This predictable disaster film is preposterous and overblown, though no more so than any of its contemporary counterparts. Fans of the genre, like myself will join me in asserting that it’s exactly the assumed gullibility of the audience, straining concepts, absurd action sequences, and tendency toward character melodrama that make disaster flicks so much fun. On that low-brow level of unintentional entertainment, Volcano is a keeper, never taking itself as seriously as the rival volcano flick, Dante’s Peak.
However there are so many areas where it could have been so much better. We are treated to some special effects, which are maybe what the genre is all about, but not enough of them to dazzle visually; I think we definitely need a bigger helping of lava raining explosive havoc down on Los Angeles in Volcano, 2012 style.
Tommy Lee Jones is fine in the gruff, competent professional role, but other performers don’t fare as well. Particularly wasted are the talents of Anne Heche and Don Cheadle, who appear to have been hired in order to brush up the film’s dicey credibility.
In its attempt to work in some subplots involving a compassionate doctor and her selfish husband and a gang member who antagonizes the LAPD, the film goes seriously skewed, I don’t even know why the script had these stories in it, they add nothing to the film at all.
It gets a few things right, but in trying to add in themes of redemption and constant metaphors of a “we’re all in this together” mantra, the film seems to strain to be all things to all people. Because it doesn’t just concentrate on being a good disaster movie Volcano never quite achieves the heights of cheeseball cinema it might have scaled, and that is a real shame because the foundations are definitely there.
I think the ham hock is one of those vastly under appreciated pieces of meat, it is so cheap and, when you cook it the right way, it is tender and delish and Moorish.
This is quite a wintery dish but I had it recently because we had a butternut squash come in our organic vegetable box, and I must say that it went down very well.
Any kind of ham hock will work with this whether it is gammon, bacon or a Parma ham hock.
- 1 red onion, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp coriander seeds, crushed
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
- Olive oil
- 1 butternut squash, peeled, de-seeded and roughly chopped
- 1 handful of chestnuts, shelled
- 2 good handfuls of fresh sage
- 1 good handful of pearl barley
- 1.1 litre/ 2 pints of chicken or vegetable stock
- 680g/1 ½ lb ham hock, skin removed
- Salt and pepper
- Pinch of dried chilli
- Pinch of nutmeg
In a large, stock pot type pan, slowly fry the onion, coriander seeds and the garlic in a little olive oil until softened. Then add the squash, sage, pearl barley and chestnuts. Stir in the stock, add your hock and bring to the boil, then let it all simmer, with the lid on for 1 ½ hours.
After the aloted time, take the hock out of the pan and discard the bone if there is one, break up the meat into bite sized bits and put to one side for the time being. Put half of your broth into a liquidizer and blitz until smooth, then add back to the pot along with your ham pieces. Give it a quick taste and season it with some salt and black pepper.
Add the chilli and nutmeg to your taste. If you want to you can adjust the consistency with a little extra stock. Serve in a bowl with some of your best extra virgin olive oil and lovely crusty bread.