Movie review: 'Forces of Nature' fascinating

Documentary about disasters is nicely done

Published: Friday, July 2 2004 12:00 a.m. MDT

FORCES OF NATURE — *** 1/2 — Documentary on the science of natural disasters; narrated by Kevin Bacon; large-screen format; not rated, probable G (violent images).

"Forces of Nature" concerns itself with the scientific study of natural disasters — volcanoes, tornadoes, earthquakes.

Fortunately, it's a lot more fun and considerably more exciting than that probably makes it sound. In fact, it's probably one of the better documentary shorts currently being shown in the large-screen format. It's certainly one of the more educational ones.

Documentarian George Casey — a veteran of several large-screen productions — profiles scientists who are attempting to predict or forecast when or where natural disasters will occur.

The film tracks a small team of British volcanologists located on the island of Montserrat, which has been wracked with violent volcanic eruptions. They're hoping that the data they're collecting will allow them to warn residents before the next one.

Meanwhile, American "tornado chasers" are trying to discover how violent storms are "born."

And geologists in Turkey are studying earthquakes. Over the past 60 years, Turkey has been subjected to some of the most violent temblors in the world).

This is one of most beautifully shot documentaries in recent memory. The film's biggest "wow" moment comes when Casey and his camera crews use aerial photography to capture the ear-shattering eruption of ash and molten rock as the Montserrat volcano explodes to life.

The no-nonsense narration (by actor Kevin Bacon) allows the scientists to speak for themselves, and the silent moments are golden.

"Forces of Nature" is not rated but would probably receive a G, although there are images of violent storms and other natural disasters. Running time: 40 minutes.


E-mail: jeff@desnews.com

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