Fulvue Drive-In.com
Current Reviews
In Stores Soon
In Stores Now
DVD Reviews, SACD Reviews Essays Interviews Contact Us Meet the Staff
An Explanation of Our Rating System Search  
Category:    Home > Reviews > Action > Disaster > Dante’s Peak (HD-DVD)

Dante’s Peak (HD-DVD)


Picture: B+     Sound: B+     Extras: C     Film: C



After making some mature and even remarkable films that were sometimes hits like No Way Out, White Sands and remakes of The Bounty and The Getaway, Roger Donaldson turned to more commercial popcorn films for a while like his silly hit Cocktail.  First he made Species, a film that was a very populist variant of the Alien franchise then made one of the films in the second disaster cycle (which early digital effects made possible) with Dante’s Peak in 1997.  It was never a great film, but has a sort of cult following because of home theater aficionados and now it arrives on HD-DVD.


Pierce Brosnan (James Bond at the time) and Linda Hamilton (looking for another hit after the second Terminator film hit) play the couple in danger, battling a volcano about to erupt.  It is a dumb, bad film, but throws all kinds of visual and sound effects at you constantly and did it with some technical distinction.  Fairing decently in theaters, the film is a somewhat long 109 minutes and wants to imitate the shallow hit Twister very much.  It sadly succeeds, though it did not make as much money.


So what did work?  The visual effects were not too bad for their time, though they do not hold up so well now, but the combination of Conrad Buff’s editing and Andrzej Bartkowiak’s cinematography made this look more top grade than the effects and the 1080p 2.35 X 1 VC-1 digital High Definition image looks good here once again as it had in its time on 12” LaserDisc and DVD.  Then there is the sound, which has a good 5.1 mix and has been issued on stand-alone DTS 12” LaserDisc and DVD that were popular demos in their time.  James Newton Howard’s theme and John Frizzell’s score are not that good, but the DTS version staring the theaters (where it was exclusively DTS) was meant by Universal to show off the digital format in its introductory days.


This version is sadly only in Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 and it sounds good, but not quite up to where it did in DTS.  Too bad both were not included, but DTS is something Universal is not interested in supporting much these days.  It is also too bad they did not offer this in Dolby TrueHD, which their HD-DVDs are heading towards offering exclusively.  You do get a few extras, including the original theatrical trailer, a making of featurette and fairly good full length audio commentary by Donaldson and Production Designer Dennis Washington.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


 Copyright © MMIII through MMX fulvuedrive-in.com