Twister (1996) / Adventure-Thriller
MPAA Rated: PG-13 for language and some violence
Running Time: 113 min.
Cast: Bill Paxton, Helen Hunt, Jami Gertz, Cary Elwes, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Lois Smith, Alan Ruck, Sean Whalen, Scott Thomson, Todd Field, Joey Slotnick, Wendle Josepher, Jeremy Davies. Jake Busey (cameo), Alexa Vega (cameo)
Director: Jan de Bont
Screenplay: Michael Crichton, Anne-Marie Martin
Review published January 11, 2007
Incredible sounds and special effects are the big draws in this popular popcorn movie attraction, and it's a good thing they are worth the price of the viewing, as the in-between banter among the characters would be paltry entertainment otherwise. Despite its screenplay by veteran Michael Crichton (Jurassic Park, Runaway) and his wife Anne-Marie Martin, and an exec producer in Steven Spielberg (Gremlins 2, Back to the Future Part III), the characterizations are amazingly simple, the camaraderie forced, and the plot is too ridiculous to take at face value. Yet, despite its weaknesses, director Jan de Bont (The Haunting, Tomb Raider 2) is able to still deliver when it counts. Perhaps over time, the special effects will eventually look dated, muting the one major asset of the film, but until then, it is still an impressive, sometimes even awe-inspiring action flick that will hold the interest of most, even if it makes you wince whenever the characters have to talk to one another. Thankfully, those times are sparing.
Bill Paxton (Apollo 13, True Lies) stars as Bill Harding, a former storm chaser who is traveling with his fiancee, Melissa (Gertz, The Lost Boys), back to familiar stomping grounds of Oklahoma in order to get the final signatures for his divorce from his former wife and partner, Jo (Hunt, Rollercoaster). Upon arrival, Bill is elated to see that Jo went through with the creation of his invention, dubbed "Dorothy", a device built to release hundreds of sensors into a tornado's center, which will greatly assist in the ability to predict patterns and warn people to get out of harm's way much sooner. Bill just came for the signatures, but finds himself going along for the ride as Jo and her gang chase the latest tornado, and when it turns out their nemesis, a corporate hack named Jonas (Elwes, Days of Thunder), has stolen Bill's idea, he has little recourse but to stick around for a while.
With plot clichés in abundance, and a very bad subplot involving a rival crew, Twister certainly will test the patience for those viewers expecting something more intelligent from such a science-based premise. The commercialism of the film is often quite blatant, as the ultimate solution to their "Dorothy" problem is solved through advertising for Pepsi products. Contrivances abound throughout, such as a scene where a gas truck is flung out from the tornado, landing just a hundred feet from our protagonists, and they emerge completely unscathed despite driving straight through the aftermath of the explosion. The underlying incredulity of it all requires suspension of a hefty amount of disbelief. If you can come to terms that this is a dumb movie, these sorts of things will most likely cease to bother you, as the sights and sounds soon envelop you so completely, even the trite shenanigans of the main players offer up their own blend of fun.
©2007 Vince Leo