Twister (1996)


run time: 113 mins
rated: PG
considered: Action, Adventure, Drama
starring: Helen Hunt, BIll Paxton, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Cary Elwes, Jami Gertz, Lois Smith, Alan Ruck

movie summary: Deep in the heart of Oklahoma there are groups of people who live and breathe for the next opportunity to put their life on the line chasing mother nature’s unknown beast, the tornado. Jo Harding (Helen Hunt) loses her dad to a tornado when she is a young girl, when she grows up she marries a fellow storm fanatic Bill Harding (Bill Paxton) and together they form a group of storm chasers . The group’s goal is to create a device that will get sucked up into a tornado and take readings to provide data to help create a new system of preventing tornadoes.

Their jobs take a toll on their marriage so they separate. Bill tracks Jo down in the middle of tornado season to get the divorce papers signed, while bringing along his new finance Melissa (Jami Gertz) to meet the gang. Jo wishes he came along because the group has finally engineered a machine named Dorothy that will capture information about a tornado once it gets picked up. Bill is shocked to learn that his dream invention has come to life so agrees to tag along for one day to see if they can pull it off. Once the group hits the road they run into Bill’s former college roommate Jonas (Cary Elwes) who makes fun of Bill’s new career as a meteorologist , which ignites Bill’s desire to beat him.

Jo and Bill hit the road to track down a small-sized tornado that forces them into a ditch and destroys their truck. The pair realize they need to be smarter next time, stop arguing, and drive back into the battle zone to catch more potential tornadoes. In Bill’s red truck with Melissa in the back seat, the trio break away from the group and end up on a road with two tornadoes that spin the truck around in circles but doesn’t cause any damage. Melissa freaks out while the former couple embrace and celebrate what they just experienced. The crew catches up to them and points out how close Wakita where Jo’s aunt lives.

Everyone drops in to eat, change, and shower at Aunt Meg’s (Lois Smith) house before hearing reports of a F4 tornado that has touched down a few miles away. They run out of the house to chase down the storm which leaves Jo and Bill are alone again in the front of the pack. Their romantic spark is starting to rekindle after surviving a near death experience once again at the top of a hill. Later that night at a drive in, Jo is signing the divorce papers while Melissa contemplates their relationship. Without any warning an F4 tornado rips through the big screen and destroys the town the storm chasers are in. After surviving with minor injuries the group learn the storm has grown bigger and wiped out the whole town of Wakita. They rush to Aunt Meg’s house to rescue her when Jo finally realizes how to make Dorothy fly.

The next morning the crew prep Dorothy 3 & 4 and load them on Bill’s truck. Jo and Bill chase down the F5 tornado (one of the biggest ever) and drop one of the machines in its path. Thanks to flying debris the operation fails but the tornado has shifted its course and headed right towards them. Bill manages to drive away but soon they turn around to launch the truck into the tornado to get their machine into the twister. The massive tornado shifts its course once again and moves towards Bill and Jo, who are now on foot. Time is running out as they make a shelter inside a barn to survive the oncoming twister.

my thoughts: Twister came out when I was in the sixth grade and we were studying the weather in science class. I was fascinated with this movie and loved the idea of being a storm chaser. It is amazing to think people do this for a living every day, some for recreational purposes while others do it for scientific research. For a film in the mid 1990’s there is an amazing supporting cast for Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton. There’s Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Jaime Gretz, Cary Elwes, and Alan Ruck. The movie is all about chasing tornadoes, which is played up to be the bad guy in the movie, but if that wasn’t enough because there’s a love story thrown in to add some drama between the characters. Bill and Jo make an attractive couple on-screen with a deep passion for chasing storms, but spend a lot more time arguing then chasing tornadoes. Poor Melissa is thrown into the mix as a third wheel character who is gone by the mid way point of the movie. The other characters all have their roles within the storm chaser group and bring their own unique skills to help sell the story as real as possible.

In 1996 there wasn’t a lot movies that featured green screen and CGI work, Twister blew audiences away with amazing tornado special effects. I never did see this movie at the theatre but I beat it was awesome. I wouldn’t mind if Hollywood did a remake of this film sometime in the future. Today’s CGI would make this movie look like an amateur home video. I’m sure the new version of the movie would be in 3D and many pieces of debris would fly out of the twister and into your lap.

Interesting fact for movie collectors, Twister was the first movie ever released on DVD.

my star rating: 8 out 10

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One thought on “Twister (1996)

  1. Twister is one of my favorite movies. Despite the corny dialogue, it’s a fun action flick with good characters. Gotta say I love the special effects as they are and wouldn’t hope it to be remade. I can imagine the twisters having more screen time with CGI, but I think the action and story flows well the way it is. If you ever visit Universal Studios Orlando, check out the Twister attraction. It’s a great show! 🙂

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