I thought it would be inevitable. First, take the talents of director Jan De Bont (Speed), writer Michael Crichton (Jurassic Park, ER), and stars Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton. Then combine them with the special effects of George Lucas' Industrial Light and Magic (the company responsible for Star Wars and Terminator 2) and executive producer Steven Spielberg, and you should have ingredients for a classic, thrilling movie. But, while Twister may achieve blockbuster status, it fails to reach an effective emotional, dramatic, or horrific level.
Instead it's a special effects show. Not that there's anything really wrong with that C the effects and visual images this film produces are some of the most amazing ever seen on celluloid C but one wishes that the movie's plot and direction could reach that same, awesome level.
Hunt and Paxton play storm chasers C scrappy scientists who chase down tornadoes in order to learn more about them. The reason behind this obsession? Hunt lost her father in a Level 5 tornado (the largest) when she was just a kid. From that point on she's had a love-hate relationship with them, awed by their power, but feeling that she must help others avoid their extreme destruction. Meanwhile, Paxton is a "human barometer" who instinctively knows where a twister will turn. He's the ex-husband of Hunt's character, but throughout the film (in a surprisingly good metaphor) he too has a love-hate relationship with her.
The ironic part of this film is that while the twisters themselves are extremely unpredictable, the plot is not. It is a simple story with no twists and turns. The plot is the major fault of the movie C the characters chase one tornado after another, until, of course, they face the "mother ship."
The other fault is the direction. When it comes to visual images and special effects sequences, there is no one better than De Bont (who worked as a director of photography on Die Hard), but we are never really terrified or emotionally driven as we were in Jaws or Jurassic Park. This could be due to the fact that the tornadoes are not living, breathing creatures, but still something C brilliant editing, haunting music, for example C is missing. Also, De Bont relies on cheesy dialogue and stupid clich"s.
Steven Spielberg once said that a successful film makes you forget everything around you and become totally involved in what is happening on screen. Despite its efforts, Twister fails to achieve this level. Granted, these are some amazing special effects which make it an incredible visual experience. What's unfortunate is that while the action and effects sequences are brilliant, the movie is not
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.