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Mike Wilder brings you movie reviews. Each week a Selection of reviews for new releases and older films plus movie comparisons.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

A tale of two films and one plot Part 3: Volcanos

A tale of two films and one plot
 Over the years, film studios produce some amazing and original films. But occasionally, studios produce similar films at the same time. This doesn’t happen all the time but sometimes films with almost identical plots are made and released very close together. But in these circumstances, is it worth seeing both films? Is the more expensively made film always the best? And do the stars of the film make a difference. I decided to go back and watch some examples of these back to back. Starting with whatever film was released earlier and comparing my viewing experience.
Part 3: Volcanos

Dante’s Peak
Date of US release
7 February 1997
25 April 1997
UK/US Rating
When a volcano erupts it is a race against time to save the populations of people living in the area.
Budget (Estimated)
Lifetime gross
Chart position of the year
Academy award nominations
Academy award wins
IMDb rating

 The third of my comparisons feature two more disaster films. The first released was Dante’s Peak, directed by Roger Donaldson. This film focused more on the human side of the disaster. The film’s stars were Pierce Brosnan, Linda Hamilton, Jamie Renée Smith, Jeremy Foley, Elizabeth Hoffman, Charles Hallahan, Arabella Field, Tzi Ma & Grant Heslov.
The second film released was Volcano, Directed by Mick Jackson. This version of the disaster relied more heavily on effects as the main focus of the film. The human side was also added but seemed like it took a back seat in the story. The film stars Tommy Lee Jones, Anne Heche, Don Cheadle, Keith David, John Corbett, John Carroll Lynch, Marcello Thedford & James MacDonald.
So which is better? The stats clearly show that Dante’s Peak is the clear winner in every category. But for a viewing experience is it really better?
For movies with very similar plots surprisingly these films are quite different. Dante’s Peak is set in a small town at the base of a dormant volcano, however Volcano is set in downtown Los Angles. You may realise that there are no volcanos in this location so film makers created one! After a few earth tremors a volcano appears out of the Tar Pits next to Wilshire Boulevard. This may seem a little farfetched but after a little research on the net, these really do happen. This is something really worth knowing before viewing the film.
The cast in the films include some of the most well known in faces in movies. Dante’s Peak has Pierce Brosnan back then the current James Bond and Linda Hamilton from the first two Terminator films. While Volcano has academy award winning Tommy Lee Jones and the Emmy award winning Anne Heche. It also stars Don Cheadle a future Academy Award and Emmy nominee. It is the strength of these actors that makes both of these films work. Dante’s Peak is the more emotional of the two focusing on the personal loss of the tragedy, while Volcano is the more effects heavy and action filled of the two. The effects are pretty good in both films, however Volcano’s effects look a little dated in places while Dante’s Peak uses footage of a real volcano.
With Volcano you suspend your belief and sit back for the ride, however Dante’s Peak for the most part has the element of realism and threat and this goes a long way in making the movie work. While neither of the two films set the box office alight that year (the top film was Titanic), both are good entertainment.
So out of the two which one wins?
Once again the figures get it right, Dante’s Peak wins this one, mainly due to the realism felt while watching.

Coming Next Month

Part 4: Body Swapping

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