Volcanos are cool.

They erupt, which is a fun word to say in and of itself, and they spew (another good word) lava wherever they darn well please. The lava slowly inches its way across the ground and anything that it touches is toast.

Kinda reminds me of an ex-girlfriend.

The summer blockbuster season is upon us, and we're starting off with a bang, Fox's Let's-Destroy-LA pic, Volcano. Basically, this sequel to February's Dante's Peak is a superior movie because of what it deals with. In Dante, the story is "It's gonna explode! Everybody run! It exploded!" In Volcano, the story is "It's gonna explode! It exploded! Now what do we do with all this lava window-shopping it's way down Wilshire Blvd.!?!?"

OK. If you take your movies seriously, don't bother with this one. But if you go to the theaters to have a lot of fun, pack the bags, bring the kids, and watch LA burn! Being an Angelino I got an extra special thrill as the destruction took place. To be honest, I live about four blocks from Lava Junction. Every building they show in this movie is really there, except one, and as soon as I saw this out-of-place building, I knew something was up. You'll understand when you see it.

Actually, I was upset that they didn't level my block. We heard the streets directly east and west of my street named, but never my street. Bummer!

The story is quite simple. Earthquake unleashes a Volcano under the La Brea Tar Pits, Tommy Lee Jones has to figure out how to save LA.

Tommy is the man. If I'm ever in a disaster, I want him to tell me what to do. I'd listen. Hell, at times you think the lava's gonna listen to him.

Tommy: "Hey you lava! Don't flow down that side street!"

Lava: "OK, sorry 'bout that. Won't happen again."

Is this a perfect movie? No. There are a lot of in-jokes for the LA audience. (I doubt anyone outside of this town knows who Dennis Woodruff is), there a number of unnecessary sub-plots, and the cheese factor is quite high, especially at the end. It also follows a lot of the basic dos and don'ts of the disaster genre, including the ultimate rule in any disaster: Stick with Dog, it's gonna live.

People do stupid things in order to get munched by lava. I mean she may have been a nice character, but by no means should she have straddled the crack. You'll know it when you see it.

And why, oh why won't anyone take anyone else's word?

"People are dying in those tunnels! Lava is flowing and killing everything in its path!"

"Hmmm.. We should check this out personally."


The other thing that bothered a lot of my friends was the loss of realism in the movie. They claim that if molten lava were inches from your face, you wouldn't be able to do anything remotely heroic other than melt. Cynics, all. This is Hollywood, it's about a volcano in LOS ANGELES. So yeah, it's gonna stretch the reality barrier a bit.

But there is just so much of this movie to love that it transcends the ucky stuff.

Basically, Volcano is Twister with a better script. Instead of wind, you got lava. Instead of the scientifically curious you got a city of poser-heads. It all evens out in the end.

As for promotions, heck. Fox was brilliant to schedule an earthquake on the first two nights of the opening. I was jolted awake thinking, "Oh Lordy-Lord. I do NOT need this right now." I ran to the window to see if I could see any flames rising from the tar pits. I didn't. At least not THIS time.

So all things considered, Volcano brings in a strong 3 4/5 Babylons. This is why we go to the movies, to be blown away. You will be blown away.

Editor's Note:

Volcano is NOT a sequel to Dante's Peak.

I live in LA and I don't know who Dennis Woodruff is.

The Lava does not talk.

All these disasters are bad for my nerves. Anyone know where I can go to escape Mother Nature?

Rated: PG-13
Directed by: Mick JacksonB
Stars: Tommy Lee Jones and a bunch of Molten Lava.