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When Jo was a cute little girl,
She witnessed the wind in a whirl.
Her father was trying
To help but went flying
When deadly gusts started to swirl.
Grown up, she now studies the weather
Which treats a large truck like a feather.
Her split husband Bill
Used to share in her skill;
They both used to chase storms together.
But now he is seeking divorce,
With his new fiancée, but of course.
Melissa seems nice,
Giving carnal advice,
But Jo doesn’t rush to endorse.
Then Bill learns of Jo’s latest cause,
A system improving what was,
Some sensors to map
A tornado death-trap;
It’s called DOROTHY, like in Oz.
Bill further learns Jonas is near,
His rival who’s less than sincere.
He’s copied for free
Bill’s idea: DOROTHY.
And Bill won’t let him pioneer.
So while Oklahoma begins
To waken with whirligig winds,
Melissa and Bill
Tag along for a thrill
To watch as a great tempest spins.
The first DOROTHY has a fall,
And Bill and Jo have a close call,
But soon they’re right back
On a double storm’s track;
Melissa’s near ready to bawl.
The team visits Jo’s rural aunt,
Who always has dinner to grant.
While there at Aunt Meg’s,
They have great steak and eggs.
They’d all like to stay, but they can’t.
The next twister found jumps about,
And DOROTHY II is knocked out,
Yet Jo is obsessed
With her funnel cloud quest,
And Bill has to stop her and shout.
Her father’s death gave her the drive
To see twisters’ power alive.
Bill tells her somehow
They must focus on now
In order for marriage to thrive.
A drive-in that’s showing The Shining
Is where their team ends up reclining,
But then a storm hits
And just rips it to bits.
The whole place may need redesigning.
By this time, Melissa’s distraught
And leaves Bill, for things are too taut.
Bill says he’s beyond
Love for storms and his blonde,
But she clearly sees he is not.
When Meg’s house is hit by a twister,
They all rush right there to assist her.
Once she’s safe and sound,
Yet another comes round,
A storm with no equal or sister.
They modify DOROTHY’s spheres
To catch all the wind as it steers.
It fails yet again,
But they’re horrified when
Jonas dies from not heeding their fears.
As the mile-wide twister swirls round,
Obstructions and dangers abound.
As Bill and Jo drive,
Trying just to survive,
The right opportunity’s found.
They let the last DOROTHY fly,
Exulting at their latest try,
But then the cyclone
Just won’t leave them alone.
They flee to a pipe shed nearby.
Securing themselves tightly there,
They watch as they float in the air.
They hold as they enter
The tornado’s center,
And it dies out, leaving the pair.
Now they have much data to share.

Many disaster movies like The Poseidon Adventure or The Towering Inferno are blown out of proportion for the sake of the film, while others like The Impossible are more realistic but focus on catastrophes that are still rare. Tornadoes happen all the time out in the Midwest, and sometimes it takes a film like this to remind those who don’t live there of the power and devastation of these storms. That’s not to say Twister isn’t rather overblown as well, with a convenient rash of tornadoes breaking out within driving distance (which is still plausible) and tons of special effects. While it received mixed reviews overall, even critics couldn’t help but praise the effects used to bring the twisters to life and iconically fly cows across the screen (or maybe the same cow).

They may not be Oscar-worthy, but Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton pair quite well as meteorologist action heroes, and both at least seem like real people. Jami Gertz also has some memorable moments as Bill’s overwhelmed girlfriend Melissa, and Philip Seymour Hoffman and Alan Ruck are great fun as the leaders of the storm-chasing entourage. Cary Elwes skillfully drops his English accent to play Dr. Jonas Miller, preparing him for other villainous roles later on. By the way, that was Alexa Vega of Spy Kids fame playing the young Jo at the beginning. In addition (Lost alert!), there’s Jeremy Davies, who played Daniel Faraday on my favorite show. It’s a small role as one of the members of Jo’s storm team, but when I saw this film after Lost, I said “Oh, my gosh, it’s Daniel!” (He’s the one who gets up from Meg’s table to let Melissa sit down.)

The final twister is truly spectacular in its enormity, tossing around everything from houses to oil tankers, but because it’s so big and powerful, it strains credulity that no one but the bad guy got hurt. I mean seriously, with all that debris flying around, none of it hurt Bill and Jo as they were running through the heart of it? It’s one of those action movies that conveniently protects the main characters from all harm, but the scenes of destruction are believable enough to make up for that. The drive-in scene and the collapsing house scene are both edge-of-your-seat sequences so impressive that they were recreated for the theme park attraction down at Universal Studios. Twister is a whirlwind of a movie with plenty of thrills and laughs, a memorably greasy breakfast scene, and remarkable visuals that have kept me from ever wanting to move to Oklahoma. No offense.

Best line: (Melissa, on the phone during a twister) “I gotta go, Julia; we got cows!”

Artistry: 5
Characters/Actors: 7
Entertainment: 9
Visual Effects: 8
Originality: 7
Watchability: 10
Other (language): -3
TOTAL: 43 out of 60

Next: #187 – Frozen

© 2014 S. G. Liput

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