Twister (1996): Bill and Jo Harding, advanced storm chasers on the brink of divorce, must join together to create an advanced weather alert system by putting themselves in the cross-hairs of extremely violent tornadoes.
Like my review of Into the Storm earlier this week? Well, get ready for MORE TORNADOES. Twister was a big budget summer blockbuster from 1996 that still has a loyal following because it achieves in its main task: with 90s special effects, mind you, Twister successfully showcases the power and danger of nature and the awe-inspiring destruction of the tornado. On top of that, two of the top actors of the time played the leads characters, and played them very well. Paxton was overacting at some points, but there is an absolutely fantastic performance from Helen Hunt. However Twister is a tale of two stories. Two extremes, I should say. There is a fantastic and highly believable story here explaining why these storm-chasers are doing what they are doing, however for some stupid reason there is a terribly bad villain figure to offset it with little to no reason or explanation for why he is the way he is or why he hates the other guys so much. There is a great romance here between Hunt and Paxton that is very touching and honestly one of the better romances I've seen in a big summer blockbuster where usually the girl is the damsel in distress, but to offset it there is a horribly written and acted third wheel in the form of Paxton's fiancee. One of the most quintessentially crappy 90s characters that could possibly exist, I wish so much that she isn't in this movie in any way, shape, or form. But we can't have everything we want right? So let's jump in!
First off, the positives. Most of the acting here is terrific, with Helen Hunt putting in one of her better performances for this movie. She is one of the better female actresses of the 90s, and this movie reminds us why. The supporting cast is great as well. Jeremy Davies (Saving Private Ryan) Alan Ruck (Ferris Bueller's Day Off) and Sean Whalen (Men In Black) all show up here for good roles. There is also a gem of a performance from the late and great Philip Seymour Hoffman. He plays one of the many supporting storm chasers, and his character, Dusty, is made great based on his performance alone. In one of his very early performances, a rather young Hoffman goes all out creating a totally crazy persona. It is fun to watch and further reminds you of the greatness of Philip Seymour Hoffman. Most of the writing is great as well. The main plot is fantastic and has some great scenes scattered through out. Additionally, this movie really captures the sheer terror of tornadoes. From the first scene involving an F-5 tornado to the second-to-last tornado of the movie in particular, (which was the inspiration behind the Twister ride at Universal Studios) this movie can be quite scary. And it also ensures that you see the destruction a tornado leaves in its wake. These scenes can leave you breathless if you allow yourself to be swept up in it. Ha! See what I did there? Finally, the tornadoes are filmed beautifully. The effects are honestly just as good as a more recent twister flick, Into the Storm. Which is kind of really sad if you're Into the Storm. After all there's only 18 years separating the two.....
Now while the story is good, there are some corners cut to get from point A to point B. That's fine. Not a big deal to have something like a two-way radio suddenly appear in the new guy's truck so he can talk to the people in other vehicles. (Though seriously where did that radio come from?) But there are two huge huge HUGE flaws in this movie. Both of them are egregious mistakes (I know big word right? Look at me go!) That must be addressed. One is the "villain" of the movie. Played by Cary Elwes, the entire concept of Dr. Jonas Miller makes literally no sense and has no reason to be in this movie. He treats the "good" guys poorly for literally no reason, even though he proceeds to copy everything they do, his origin makes no sense, and his fate is totally out of place in the 113 minute flick. I hate movies that have bad guys simply for having bad guys, and that's exactly what he is. But Twister makes its mistake then sticks to it, featuring him quite a bit. Entirely too much. Additionally, to counteract the wonderful love story is the fiancee of Paxton in the movie, played by Jami Gertz. Horribly acted and horribly written, and just overall awful. A quintessential example of horribly written 90s characters. I say this because her character uses a lot of the big trends of that year, making her character appear dated today. However I didn't buy for a second that Paxton's character would ever get anywhere near her much less ask her to marry him. And she has way too major a role here for me to be happy with it.
See that's the problem. That's why Twister gets docked a lot of points. They don't just have their mistakes show up a little. They show up a lot throughout the movie, and it really does take you out of it quite a bit. Were it not for them this movie would be flirting with the 9 range, but because they are there this movie gets docked to the 6-7 range. Oh well.....everyone makes mistakes. Sigh.....
The Critique: A fascinating story backed by some mind-boggling mistakes makes this movie almost good. Still, if you like tornadoes, you will greatly enjoy this movie.
The Recommendation: If you like tornadoes but you haven't seen this movie at some point in your life, you're doing it wrong.
Rewatchability: Moderately High
The Verdict: 6.5/10 Almost Good
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