Sunday, March 3, 2013

Twister (1996)

Links: TVTropes, Wikipedia, IMDB (6.1).

You want loud, dumb, skillful, escapist entertainment? Twister works. You want to think? Think twice about seeing it.
— Roger Ebert

While my friends revile this tornado-based disaster film, I enjoy it quite a bit... and yet, I can never quite put my finger on why. On one hand, there's a lot about this movie that irks me; each time I watch it, it's a certainty I'll be calling back at the screen "hey, funnel clouds don't work that way!" and "uh, in reality the 200 mph debris just bludgeoned them to death", as if I were watching some sort of wind-based re-imagining of Dr. Frank-N-Furter and not "Mad About You with tornadoes". But despite its very real flaws, I love this film sincerely and un-ironically. Part of it is the film's snarky-banter sense of humor; Joss Whedon was apparently an uncredited script doctor on this, and while this is no Buffy or Firefly, I think Whedon's influence shows in the dialogue and the rapport the characters have. But I think the main reason I love it comes from my inner 12 year old weather nerd, the one who knows his isobars from his isotachs and his cold fronts from his dry lines... the one who kind of wants to be a tornado chaser when he grows up, yearning both to comprehend and to be awed by the way the world can reorganize its own pieces into something so powerful. The film, for all its faults, manages to convey both yearnings in a way that respects the very real science (VORTEX and TOTO) that this movie is loosely based on. Of all the things written by Michael Crichton, I think this is the one I can respect the most: for once in his career, Crichton was willing to put his "hubris of scientists" theme on the back-burner, and let us celebrate the unadulterated joy of discovery and understanding. And, for that reason if no other, I think this film deserves love... or, at the very least, a look. Score: 3 stars out of 4.

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