Vanquishing a Volcanic Disaster
Professor John Shepherd (Xander Berkeley) is taking an expedition to study an Icelandic volcano over the break and former student Brianna Chapman (Amy Jo Johnson) wants to be part of it and won't take no for an answer. Not only are they stunned when the dormant volcano they were ascending starts to erupt but others from all around the globe are also exhibiting signs of impending volcanic activity. As John and Brianna try to collate their data to present to the government their fear that the Earth's core is swelling and every volcano is going to erupt bringing an end to every living thing on the planet and they must also try to come up with a plan to prevent the disaster for happening. For John he also finds himself dealing with some personal issues as his marriage to Natalie (Reiko Aylesworth) is in ruins but would love to make it work again.
On paper "Magma: Volcanic Disaster" sounds like another one of those made for TV movies which draws on audience's enjoyment of volcano based disaster movies and there is undeniably a side to it which seems stereotypical. To start with we have the usual characters from the scholarly expert who discovers a disaster is coming, the student type who ends up becoming close friends and also the ignorant government types who refuse to heed the warnings. Then there is the disaster itself from the Earth's core swelling to every volcano on the verge of eruption meaning there may not be a day after tomorrow for anything which lives and breathes. And of course we have the race against time to save the planet from its impending doom.
But to give "Magma: Volcanic Disaster" the little bit of credit it is due it doesn't just try to entertain with special effects, action and volcanoes erupting every few minutes. There are a few scenes where it genuinely tries to explore some human emotion from John's feelings towards his estranged wife to also his feelings when a long time colleague who is wheelchair bound decides to die doing what he loves rather than in a hospital bed somewhere. These are just minor moments but the likes of Xander Berkeley, Amy Jo Johnson and Reiko Aylesworth who plays John's wife handles them nicely. Although there does come a point where the action, effects and the ridiculous plan to save the planet ends up becoming the only thing going on.
What this all boils down to is that "Magma: Volcanic Disaster" is mostly your generic made for TV disaster movie where a natural disaster puts the planet and its inhabitants in peril. But whilst some of these movies rely purely on the effects to carry the movie this one actually relies on actors to try and deliver characters and emotions, well in a few places.