Review: TWISTER (1996) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Review: TWISTER (1996)

The characters and the plot may have been formulaic, but TWISTER provides enough edge-of-your-seat excitement to keep you entertained from the start till the end.

Prior to the release of TWISTER, the only other movie I could think of which involved tornado was the famous scene from THE WIZARD OF OZ (1939), where Dorothy's (Judy Garland) house got sucked away into the twister before it dropped on the Wicked Witch of the East. And then TWISTER arrived in the summer of 1996, which subsequently ended up as the best (and still is) tornado movie ever made in the cinematic history.


When Jo (Alexa Vega) was only 5-year-old, she experienced the biggest nightmare of her life after witnessing her father being sucked away by tornado while trying to protect her. Now as an adult, Jo (Helen Hunt) works as a storm chaser who primarily in charge for studying tornadoes. She is currently separated with her ex-husband, Bill (Bill Paxton), who was once a storm chaser as well, but already left the field to become a successful weatherman. Bill is now engaged to therapist Melissa (Jami Getz), and wants Jo to sign the divorce papers so everyone can get on with their life. Bill and Melissa show up in Oklahoma to find Jo, who is just in time getting busy with the worst tornado season ever occurred in decades. Instead of signing the divorce papers, Jo surprised Bill by showing him "Dorothy" (an obvious reference to THE WIZARD OF OZ, of course), a state-of-the-art device that releases thousand of tiny metallic ball-like sensors into the tornado and provides insightful data. When a tornado is finally spotted on sight, Bill couldn't resist for not joining the fun and decides to follow Jo and her equally enthusiastic colleagues to chase the whirlwind windstorm.
Directed with the same muscular energy that he has proved earlier in his 1994 feature debut, SPEED, Jan de Bont hits jackpot for the second time in the row with TWISTER. The pace is relentless and the effects-laden action is downright engaging. The special effects for the tornado sequence is convincing enough, even if viewed again by today's standard. The rest of the technical credits are equally impressive, particularly for its intense sound design as well as Mark Mancina's lively and rousing score.

Bill Paxton and Helen Hunt bring a great deal of screen gravitas and level of commitments to make their otherwise underwritten characters worthwhile as two relentless storm chasers who never quit to get what they want. Supporting actors are equally colourful, particularly for Philip Seymour Hoffman as the eccentric Rabbit who provides most of the movie's comic relief.

The first scene where Jo and Bill take cover under the wooden bridge while the truck gets sucked away by the tornado; the "flying cow" scene; the destruction sequence where the tornado rips off the drive-in theater; the spectacular sequence where Jo and Bill avoid falling debris from the sky and subsequently drive through the damaged house that rolled off frantically onto the road; and the final scene where the tornado hits the barn.

Anne-Marie Martin and Michael Crichton's screenplay is threadbare, with characters development and storyline mostly took a backseat in favour for big spectacle to do most of the job. Most of the time you will also see the characters screaming at each others, which might be annoying for some viewers.


A huge hit at the box office, TWISTER is the kind of summer blockbuster that best enjoyed at the big screen with good surround sound system. I'm glad I managed to watch this movie in the cinema when it was first released, and it was a spectacular cinematic experience.

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