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They Might Be Giants … Movie Review

disaster volcano special effects

During the emphasis on disaster films in the 1970s, a few others followed in the wake of The Poseidon Adventure and The Towering Inferno. Earthquake (1974), adhered to the recipe of using a large cast and contrasting human dramas with a disaster, but the characters (played by Charlton Heston, Lorne Greene, and Ava Gardner, among others) are much less compelling than those in the classic San Francisco. Earthquake was released in an audio format called Sensurround that supposedly created a tremor or two for the patrons in the theaters. Meteor (1979) put together a more impressive cast (Sean Connery, Natalie Wood, Henry Fonda) but disappointed in its special effects.

More recent excursions into the realm of disaster epics have diminished the focus on a large group of characters. Volcano (1997), for example, follows the efforts of Tommy Lee Jones and Anne Heche (as a government man and a Cal Tech scientist) in stopping the killer flow of lava from a volcano under Los Angeles. The emphasis of the special effects is as much on the technology of preventing more carnage (they eventually topple a building in the path of the lava) as on the volcano itself. Dante's Peak (1997) adopts the same scientists-predicting-and-coping-with-disaster formula. Finally, the career of Jan De Bont seems to be making him one of the current masters of disaster in cinema. De Bont's Speed (1994) generates great tension (and made a star out of Sandra Bullock) with the premise of a runaway city bus that must stay above fifty miles per hour or set off a terrorist's bomb; Twister (1996) earned its spectacular grosses on the strength of its impressive special effects. The weak premise of Speed 2: Cruise Control (1997) made Keanu Reeves look smart for passing on the sequel and Willem Dafoe look dumb for playing yet another psychovillain.

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