Thursday, February 17, 2011

TWISTER (1996)

Starring: Bill Paxton, Helen Hunt, Jami Gertz, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Alan Ruck, Cary Elwes, Abraham Benrubi, Lois Smith, Todd Field, Jeremy Davies, Joey Slotnick

Directed By: Jan DeBont
Written By: Michael Crichton & Anne-Marie Martin
Director Of Photography: Jack N. Green
Edited By: Michael Kahn

TV weatherman Bill Harding is trying to get his tornado-hunter wife, Jo, to sign divorce papers so he can marry his girlfriend Melissa. But Mother Nature, in the form of a series of intense storms sweeping across Oklahoma, has other plans. Soon the three have joined the team of stormchasers as they attempt to insert a revolutionary measuring device into the very heart of several extremely violent tornados.

This film is a slave to special effects. It tries to have an interesting dramatic angle that fails hard. Becoming ridiculous melodrama. Making all the more boring until the special effects scenes. Which thankfully work. As it seems no matter who starred in it. That is what the audience is coming for. Making it an event movie overall.

The film tries not to be as much as a spectacle. It tries to have a more down home feel. That reeks of Americana more then anything

It's a shame as when you are in the audience. It does make you feel like you are in the Middle of the storm.

The film has a great opening sequence. That mainly relies on sound design that is strong and the best part of the film actually. 

There is a minor subplot of enemies who aren't really needed. They are there as the film needs some kind of adversaries and to show or at least remind the audience as well as the characters how easily something can go wrong and lead to peril.

A movie where the script is written around the special effects rather then telling a story. So when in doubt of having compelling story throw in a melodramatic soap opera like love triangle. Will Bill Paxton who is going to be a national weatherman choose his soon to be ex-wife adventurous but haunted who is a storm chaser with her band of pirate like co-workers or his establishment prim and proper high class psychiatrist fiancé. Now don't get me wrong this film starts with a jolt with one hell of a opening scene but then it falters with the rest of the film like the movie cliffhanger. it is disappointing where one of the best scenes in the trailer fails to exist in the finished film. The scene from the trailer that doesn't exist here was a trailer flying towards the windshield of a truck that the audience is watching from.

This film is an all star or future star or "hey I know that guy extravaganza." At the time i remember I was shocked and happy that Bill Paxton finally was playing the lead in a big budget blockbuster a-list movie a chance for him not only to show his potential but some better quality material scripts well this film had a bigger budget but the material was just as bad as his usual at that point. The movies he was in were ones that went straight to video or cable. After some clout from the indie hit ONE FALSE MOVE,  This seems to be one of the few big studio projects where Bill Paxton was the leading man.(Other then studio ensembles like TRESPASS)  Here he shows his limitations in more of a straight laced leading role. Then again he isn't given that much to work with. Which makes him a welcome presence with little to actually do.

This was also supposed to be a comeback for Jami Gertz as you can tell that didn't exactly happen. It's nice to see her on the big screen again. Though here she seems more to play more of a stereotype and kind of the audience surrogate as well as what is keeping the two leads apart. Unfortunately the characters are more stock event movie characters. While Initially the team is fun, with a young Philip Seymour Hoffman as part of the team. Here he is over the top yet lovable. After awhile however if feels like we are forced to spend more time with then is necessary.

In fact at the time Helen Hunt was the biggest star in this movie. How long ago was that and trust me while being entertaining there was no sign that future Oscar winner Philip Seymour Hoffman was going to go onto future greatness between this and the film MY BOYFRIEND'S BACK. i'm sure he would like to strike these from his resume.

Another disappointing aspect to add with the that this was director Jan De Bont's second film after he started off so well with "Speed" an actually good entertaining film. He really hit a low tide sophomore slump with this film. While not only being ridiculous wasn't even entertaining it was slow between the storms with bantering and more embarrassing filler and then when we do see the storms in all there glory or get close to see the on-coming damage. It's not at all awe inspiring it's ok or passable probably should have known with the movie we were going down a bad road when the theme song is done by Van Halen. Not the Van Halen with David Lee Roth or Sammy Hagar nor the Van Halen between singers where they had the singer from extreme as there vocalist.

The film when it came out was supposed to be of the time, but felt more like lesser of an event movie with little peril or victims. I should know I saw it in a theater and with that great opening I say through the rest of the film pretty much bored. Rewatching it years later still feel the same.

Watching the film today it feels instantly dated and silly most of the time instead of serious. Sort of like Roland Emmerich's GODZILLA only less campy though here the film desperately wants to stay serious even through the horns and ridiculousness. It even has a scene near the ending where a character seems to go through a transcendence by seeing the eye of the storm.

Even the title doesn't offer an identity for the film. So just as the film feels bland and vague. It starts with the title of it. It is almost anonymous.

Jan De Bont still hasn't made a credible or good film since he's the eqivalent of a one hit wonder or Falco with the song "Rock me Amadeus." Still living off the notoriety of his one good piece of work and his years as a editor before he became a director. Now it seems like his style is workman like or blue collar like he shows up for the check no ingenuity, ideas or energy.

For Jan De Bont coming off such a great debut film with SPEED. This movie hurts. Maybe he seems to get into the effects more then the actual story and learning howto mix the two to further the film, and enjoyment of it. This seems to be a continual problem.At least in SPEED he seemed to know how to mix it. Here and in other projects it seems the ability has left him

Interesting that this was the first film to be released on dvd. I guess to market on superior picture quality and sound. It should have been very telling that the original director of photography and other crew members quit halfway through filming after arguments with director DeBont.


1 comment:

  1. I remember I was in like 8th grade when Twister came out. Everyone was seeing it, and it was kind of a big deal. I thought it looked kind of cool, but wasn't exactly in a rush. Then everyone was talking about it for like a year ("the cow!"). It was one of those movies you felt kind of dumb not having seen, even if it's not good (like Titanic). I kept telling myself I'd rent it eventually or catch it on TV. But ten years later I never did, and found that I had no real desire to see it. Glad to know I dodged a bullet there! ...Of course that was right around the same time I saw "Kazaam" in a theater, so what did I know?

    I agree though, poor Bill Paxton deserves better. I'm also sort of curious how involved Michael Crichton was. Now that would be an interesting cinefiles show: Michael Crichton movies.