Plot: Ex-tornado chaser turned TV weatherman Bill (Paxton) is trying to get his tornado-hunter wife, Jo (Hunt), to sign divorce papers so he can marry his girlfriend Melissa (Gertz). But Mother Nature, in the form of a series of intense storms sweeping across Oklahoma, has other plans. Soon, he has rejoined Jo's team of stormchasers as they attempt to insert a revolutionary measuring device into the very heart of several extremely violent tornados.
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While perusing NetFlix®, I stumbled across a film I had enjoyed, but had never gotten around to reviewing: the natural disaster flick Twister. Settling in, I figured now was the time to watch and review this fun action-packed disaster film. Would it still be as exciting as it was in 1996, or have special effects jaded me too much by this point?
The cast does a decent job with what they are given to work with. Bill Paxton isn’t exactly leading-man material (he’s much funnier as the wannabe bad boy in True Lies (1994)), but he exudes a passion for storm chasing in this film that draws the viewer in. Sure, his “human barometer” persona is a bit of a laugh, but he manages to make it work anyway.
Helen Hunt, who has shown she translates well from the small screen (Mad About You (TV)) to the big screen (As Good As It Gets), has a chance to show viewers a new version of her on-screen persona (obsession), yet still retains that brash charm that has won over viewers before and since.
Cary Elwes, who would later find a resurgence in his career thanks to, of all things, a serial killer horror flick (Saw (2004)), plays his (at the time, anyway) typical role of comedic prankster, ala The Princess Bride (1987), but tosses in a bit of villainy to make him a weak villain viewers will probably laugh at more than worry about.
There’s quite a few more familiar faces among the Twister cast. Jami Gertz is perfect as an uptight sex therapist (insert joke here), but her story soon falls by the wayside as the real villains of the film, tornadoes, take over. Philip Seymour Hoffman is fun as a hard-rocking country bumpkin named Dusty, and even Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986) alum Alan Ruck pops up as the map-wielding Rabbit.
But the real stars of Twister, just like those of another Michael Crichton-penned thriller, Jurassic Park (1993), are created entirely with special effects. And, just like in Jurassic Park (1993), those effects are still as impressive today as they were back when the film was in theaters.
This time around, instead of dinos, our intrepid heroes are faced with something even more deadly – tornadoes. Ranging from a relatively tame F2 to a raging F5, these tornadoes are horrors of nature – and horribly exciting to watch in Twister. Whether they are throwing around cows or chewing their way through a drive-in movie theater, or chasing our heroes through a Heartland-of-America cornfield, these beasties are both scary and impressive. And, thanks to the solid special effects, the viewer easily gets caught up in the thrill of it all.
Sure, critics bashed Twister for it’s reliance on special effects to make a movie, and yes, it does do a lot of that, but the human interaction, brought out mostly by Hunt’s charming tough girl persona, doesn’t get totally lost amidst these behemoths of CGI.
To be sure, Twister isn’t without it’s faults, but, if you’re looking for a wild action-packed leap into tornado country, you can’t do much better than this. So sit back, grab some popcorn, and ready yourself for another entertaining Twister ride.