1997 was the year of Titanic. No one else won any Oscars, no other movie even got watched. Or that’s what most people’s memories seem to say. Titanic is an iconic movie, a great love story and a groundbreaking disaster flick. Despite all it’s technical achievements though, a real movie buff knows that not only was Titanic not the best movie of 1997 it wasn’t even the best disaster movie of 1997.
That distinction lies with a sadly lesser known film called Volcano.
Volcano follows Tommy Lee Jones (so it’s already a win) as Mike Roark, the head of the Los Angeles Office of Emergency Management, as he tries to keep millions of people safe from the eruption of a volcano that suddenly appeared in downtown L.A.
I have to take a moment because I just love the plot that much.
Roark, Anne Heche’s Vulcanolgist Amy Barnes, and co-worker Emmit Reese (played by Don Cheadle years before he came to America’s attention) have to divert a deadly flow of lava through the streets of L.A.
And in THIS traffic?
It has incredible special effects (for the time and even by some of today’s standards) and never got the recognition it deserves. That’s probably due in large part to Dante’s Peak exploding into theaters just a few months before the release of Volcano.
Volcanoes were really “in” in 1997.
Not just dealing with the urban planning nightmare of surprise volcano, the movie also touches on elements of civil unrest, racism, parenthood and other themes.
Also Tommy Lee is at his grumpiest best which is always fun.
It’s really not even close, but with the success of Titanic so well-documented I’ll have to be contented with my own grumpy rumblings.