What hath Twister wrought? A bevy of copycat, thar-she-blows natural-disaster films, the first to hit the theaters being this half-baked volcano picture. (The Flood washes up in spring, Volcano is due later this year and, on TV, NBC's Asteroid miniseries hits Feb. 16 and 17.)
Dante's Peak, hewing closely to the Twister model, has as its hero a scientist (Brosnan) who circles the globe in search of, as he puts it, "volcanoes with an attitude." Hearing that Dante's Peak, a volcano dormant in Washington State for 7,000 years, is acting huffy, he heads for the Northwest. When the big hill finally blows, boulders fly, gray ash rains, and lava flows (though Peak is stingy with the lava). Also caught up in this mess is the fetching local mayor (Hamilton), a single mom who heats up Brosnan's personal thermostat.
Thanks to its predictable plot and boneheaded dialogue ("It's just like riding a bicycle," Brosnan assures a long-abstemious Hamilton about sex), Peak never reaches a peak among disaster films. Some special effects are nifty, but nothing matches Twister's flying cow. As for the actors, this kind of film is more physically than dramatically challenging—though Brosnan and Hamilton manage to charm in their courtship scenes. (PG-13)