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movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Twister

Starring: Helen Hunt, Bill Paxton
Director: Jan De Bont
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 113 Minutes
Release Date: May 1996
Genres: Action, Drama

*Also starring: Gregory Sporleder, Sean Whalen, Cary Elwes, Jami Gertz, Lois Smith, Alan Ruck, Jeremy Davies, Todd Field

Review by Andrew Hicks
3 stars out of 4

There's one predominant theme I've picked up on in the multiple other TWISTER reviews I've already read in magazines, newspapers and even this newsgroup -- that, although it has some of the most incredible special effects ever recorded on film, the melodramatic scenes that tie those sequences together are laughable and unoriginal. And, after seeing it for myself, I have to agree, which makes me unoriginal while hopefully still laughable.

Bill Paxton plays a former storm chaser who now wants to start over with a new wife, new career, even a new car. But when he brings the final divorce papers over to his wife, Jo (Helen Hunt), the signing is interrupted by the sighting of a tornado. So Jo and her colleagues pack up and drive after the storm and Bill has to follow along because, hey, Jo still has the divorce papers. Chasing the one tornado, and eventually being trapped right under it, is enough to get Bill back into the game, leaving his fiancee, Melissa, to ride in the van with a slob named Dusty while he and Jo go chasing afto deploy Dorothy, an

invention of Bill's that looks like one of those Regina Steamer Carpet Cleaners with a bunch of metallic bingo balls inside. The bingo balls are actually sensors which, when scattered around the inside of a tornado, will send back measurements of wind velocity, speed... and who the hell cares? It's just a plot device to get Bill and Jo underneath five separate tornadoes over a period of twenty-four hours. Most of us go through life without ever being witness to one tornado, but I don't mind idiots like these lowering the odds by taking five blows in the same day, and I'm not talking about [insert any oversexed stud's name here].

So Bill, Jo and their entourage track down tornadoes all over Oklahoma in an attempt to get close enough to dump Dorothy in the tornado's path, which obviously won't happen until the very end. The whole while, evil scientist Jonas (Cary Elwes) has stolen Bill's idea by creating the DOT3, which does much the same thing except with cubed sensors instead of the more conventional round ones. How do we know he and his boys are evil? They drive black vans... and they have corporate sponsorship. "Jonas loves money, not science," Bill sneers, as if other people don't look down on rednecks who get off chasing tornadoes.

The Jonas situation is supposed to bring some level of man-vs.-man conflict into the movie to offset the man-vs.-nature conflict, but it's sure resolved fast, and in a definite man-vs.-nature way. Then there's the constant annoyance of Bill and Jo, who fight for the required amount of time until the tornadoes come along to relieve them of their plot obligations, and then make out at the right time to conveniently tie up the plot obligations. All the subplots in the movie are lame and ridiculous, but we don't care. It's like the FRIDAY THE 13TH movies ( ) we sit through all the mindless crap to get to the good stuff.

Luckily, the good stuff is indeed good. The filmmakers knew that humans are fascinated by natural disasters, and that enough special effects sequences showing those natural disasters could carry the movie, so that was the rule they followed. All the effort went into the tornado scenes, which is painfully obvious but easily overlooked and forgotten every time we do get to the good stuff. TWISTER is no JURASSIC PARK but it does offer genuine scares aing effects sequences. Unlike JURASSIC PARK, though, there is nothing entertaining outside of the intense action scenes.

Copyright 1996 Andrew Hicks

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