Twister

Released: May 10, 1996
Budget: $88 million
US Box Office: $242 million
Global Box Office: $496 million

Director: Jan de Bont
Cast: Bill Paxton, Helen Hunt, Cary Elwes, Jami Gertz, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Lois Smith

Synopsis: Competing teams of researchers chase tornadoes in the name of science.
Best Quote: "We've got debree!"

Review: 2.5 stars

Instinct. You can't buy it, only good guys have it, and it sure as hell comes in handy when going head to head with natural disasters. When it comes to tornadoes, Bill Harding (Bill Paxton) has more instinct than he knows what to do with. The "human barometer" is certainly fun to root for, but his supernatural instincts keep us from ever really worrying whether or not things are going to turn out alright. That's because in Twister, the good guys are good, the bad guys drive black cars, the nerds love computers, and the tornadoes are windy. Half the appeal of this movie is its refusal to pretend that it's something that it isn't. Those looking for one dimensional characters, heroics, and sweet explosions are invited to join in the fun, anyone looking for acting, symbolism, or a deeper message would be wise to steer clear.

For a movie so predictable, you may be wondering what (if anything) sets Twister apart. For one, it introduces America to the Fujita scale as a new way to measure natural disasters. Lacking the sex appeal of the Richter scale, the Fujita system makes up for it with simplicity and ranges from F0 dirt-devils to the F5 "finger of God." The other thing this movie has going for it are the tornadoes themselves. Localized and short-lived, the tornadoes have to be sought out by Paxton and co. if there is to be much action. It's refreshing to see our heroes going after nature in a disaster flick instead of always running for their lives…it's just a little more badass.

Twister does deserve credit as a key component in the revival of the disaster movie. As a special effects vehicle, this movie paved the way for better CG-driven films that really put the whole silver screen to use. Though not for everybody, this one gets my recommendation for anyone seeking unrefined disaster movie goodness.