Dante's Peak

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Details At A Glance

Category Disaster Theatrical Trailer(s) Yes, 1
Rating Other Trailer(s) None
Year Released 1997 Commentary Tracks None
Running Time 103:56 minutes Other Extras Cast & Crew Biographies
Production Notes
RSDL/Flipper RSDL (46:36)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Movie
Region 2,4 Director Roger Donaldson

Columbia Tristar
Starring Pierce Brosnan
Linda Hamilton
Charles Hallahan
Case Transparent Amaray
RRP $34.95 Music John Frizzell

Pan & Scan/Full Frame None MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Dolby Digital 5.1
16x9 Enhancement Yes Soundtrack Languages English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
German (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Hungarian (Dolby Digital 2.0 )
Czech (Dolby Digital 2.0 )
Polish (Dolby Digital 1.0)
Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 )
French (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Italian (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
Macrovision Yes
Subtitles English
Smoking No

Plot Synopsis

    Dante's Peak is the third of the current batch of Universal releases that I have reviewed, and also the third that is of the disaster genre. Of the three titles (Dante's Peak, Daylight, and Twister), this one is the weakest.

    Dante's Peak is set in the town of Dante's Peak, a small, pleasant community nestled at the base of a dormant volcano. Pierce Brosnan (Harry Dalton) is a volcanologist who is sent to the town to check out some suspicious seismic activity in the area. Linda Hamilton (Rachel Wando) is the town's mayor, and comprises the obligatory love interest.

    Let's see now, can we guess the plot by the numbers? OK, well, the hero in these movies has to be right, whereas all the other experts have to be very very wrong. Check. Next, the hero in these movies has to develop a love interest, in this case a truly dismal one, since otherwise only men would be interested in this movie. Yep. Further, we need some sort of complication whereby the hero puts himself in harm's way to rescue someone. Done. What about sticking in a few last-minute gadgets that just happen to come in handy later on? Affirmative. And don't forget the escape timed to the split second. Definitely.

    The story gets well and truly in the way of the special effects in this movie, which would be just fine if the story was considerably less irritating than it is. Of all the characters, by far the most irritating is the mother-in-law, who could have done with a swift kick up the backside, or, even better, a good editor in the cutting room. Even the special effects are on the cheesy side. Whilst very spectacular, they just aren't quite real enough to be believable. Models are clearly models, CGI sequences are clearly CGI sequences, buildings falling apart are clearly rigged to fall apart, and clearly the volcano is plonked in artificially.

Transfer Quality


    This is another sensational transfer, and is of reference quality, right up there with the very best transfers, if not the very best transfer of a 2.35:1 movie that I have ever seen.

    The transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 2.35:1. It is 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer was razor sharp and crystal clear throughout. An excellent example of the clarity and definition of this transfer is exhibited by the end credits, which are the clearest and least artefacted of any end credits that I have ever seen. Shadow detail was magnificent, with copious amounts of detail present within the often quite dark picture. No low level noise whatsoever was present.

    The colours were superbly clear and well saturated at all times. There are shots with murky colours and shots with vivid greens, and they are all perfectly rendered.

    There were no MPEG artefacts seen. Film-to-video artefacts were essentially absent. Film artefacts were virtually non-existent.

    This disc is an RSDL disc. The layer change takes place at 46:36, during Chapter 18. It is minimally disruptive to the on-screen action.

    Subtitles are selectable on the fly, unlike the situation with Twister, which required you to return to the main menu to select subtitles.


    This is just about a reference-quality soundtrack, and is certainly one of the better 5.1 mixes that I have heard.

    There are eight audio tracks on this DVD; English Dolby Digital 5.1, German Dolby Digital 5.1, Hungarian Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded, Czech Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded, Polish Dolby Digital 1.0, Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded, French Dolby Digital 5.1, and Italian Dolby Digital 5.1. You cannot select the audio tracks on the fly and must instead return to the main menu to change audio options.

    Dialogue was perfectly clear and easy to understand at all times.

    There were no audio sync problems.

    The score by John Frizzell is standard disaster movie fare, and adds to the ambience of the movie nicely without being exceptional.

    The surround channels were used aggressively and frequently during the special effects sequences, creating an excellent enveloping soundfield. The first half of the movie, however, saw little surround activity after the opening action sequence. However, atmospheric effects were nicely used in the front soundfield for ambient sounds during this half of the movie.

    The .1 channel received lots of signal from the soundtrack during the special effects sequences, though it had little to do in the early part of the movie. It was reasonably integrated into the overall soundtrack.


    Only a limited number of extras are present on this disc.

What's Missing / What's Extra

    There are two Region 1 versions of this disc. One is a Special Edition, and hence we miss out on a lot of extras compared to this version. We miss out on;     There is also a featureless DTS version of this disc available in Region 1.


    The menu design is unremarkable. It is not 16x9 enhanced.

Theatrical Trailer

    This is presented at an aspect ratio of 1:78:1, non-16x9 enhanced, with Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded sound.

Cast & Crew Biographies

    These are well presented, and particularly easy to read.

Production Notes

    These are quite detailed and informative and are well worth the read, especially given that they, too, are easy to read.


    Dante's Peak is one of the best 2.35:1 movie transfers that I have ever seen. Pity about the movie, though. Because of the paucity of extras, if you want to own this movie, I would at least consider the Region 1 version of this disc.

    The video quality is sensational and is of reference quality.

    The audio quality is very good.

    The extras are limited, but what is there is nicely presented.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Michael Demtschyna
24th June 1999

Review Equipment
DVD Pioneer DV-505, using S-Video output
Display Loewe Art-95 95cm direct view CRT in 16:9 mode, via the S-Video input. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Denon AVD-2000 Dolby Digital AddOn Decoder, used as a standalone processor. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Amplification 2 x EA Playmaster 100W per channel stereo amplifiers for Left, Right, Left Rear and Right Rear; Philips 360 50W per channel stereo amplifier for Centre and Subwoofer
Speakers Philips S2000 speakers for Left, Right; Polk Audio CS-100 Centre Speaker; Apex AS-123 speakers for Left Rear and Right Rear; Yamaha B100-115SE subwoofer