Missing a movie on premier night annoys me, especially when its due to illness. Still being in a lot of pain watching a movie I already have mixed feelings on doesn’t usually bode well for the films review. Sad fact, but being uncomfortable watching a film does have add bias. I really – really – debated this one.
I love the original (yes, thats intentional) Twister for all its flaws. It got me and a rag tag bunch of my friends decide to try to storm chase that summer. No we didn’t catch anything and we thought it would be a good idea at the time. I also didn’t want to like this because of how “real” they were trying to be with the storm. How not hollywood they were with some shots and how hollywood they were with others. I had friends in Joplin. I had friends in City of Heroes who would have to log off for tornado warnings. I have friends, people I care about deeply, still in Tornado alley. I follow the real deal here as well, and I cried last year when someone trying to make the world a better place by chasing, died with his son and partner. I never met him, but I understood him (Tim Samaras if you are so interested).
So I really wanted to hate this movie. I have plenty of reason (Hollywood and a hundred years of history) to hate it. So did I?
This is normally where I talk about the writer and director. The writer, John Swetnam, has little to his credit beyond Step Up All In. The director, Steven Quale, has little to his directing background beyond Final Destination 5. He has however, worked on numerous other films including being second unit director on Avatar. Neither of them do anything particularly new or different here worth commenting on. Ultimately their biggest success is not beating us over the head with environmentalism. It was a risk that the movie began to edge towards and changed it’s mind. Their second biggest success is writing children who felt like children. It was a touch cliche at times, but I at least felt like I was listening to and watching teenagers at the appropriate moments (mostly).
No one in this movie is in danger of winning an Oscar. Let’s be blunt here. This is a disaster flick. This is Twister brought up to the science and tech that we’ve learned in the near 20 years since Twister (has it really been that long?). Richard Armitage (The Hobbit) plays the tough but caring dad. Sarah Wayne Callies (Walking Dead) is the weather geek. Max Deacon (Not much to credit) and Nathan Cress (iCarly) play the rebellious but loyal teen siblings. Matt Walsh plays the final stereotype of the man willing to do anything to get his shot. There are absolutely no surprises in any performance as they play their stereotypes to a T. Ultimately it means I don’t care if any of them live or die since there are no surprises in them, nothing to make them “more”. There’s really never a sense of true risk.
From am FX standpoint, we have Twister. Honestly, twister did some of the effects better 20 years ago. That is not good. Oh the damage to structures is good. Very realistic and uncomfortably so from anyone, like me, who has watched plenty of video from various storms tearing apart schools, hospitals, and other places people may be hiding. The plane sequence is as nonsensical in the final product as it is in the trailer and looks nearly as fake. Even the sound clips here are the metal equivalent of the Wilhelm Scream. Not good.
What is good? The impact of the storms. If the storms themselves aren’t the best, the actual damage path shown after, Some of the destruction we bear witness to, and the camera work. The movie is a riff on Found Footage. It’s all told through cameras, but apparently everyone has steady cam rigs which means every shot is clear, crisp, and not shaky. THIS IS GOOD. It allows the movie to be watchable. Had i had another Cloverfield, Paranormal Activity, or Earth to Echo here I think I’d have left. Its done. The use of steady cam allows this to be watchable.
I don’t hate it. I found myself enjoying what they did.
There is ONE shot, one shot where the entire audience (bout 100 folk) gasped in amazement. For that the movie got brownie points. It got a reaction out of the audience – the entire audience. If you can do that, in a positive way, then your movie succeeds regardless of any opinion levied.
It’s not a great movie and I really don’t feel comfortable recommending it, but if you read my comment above – the movie still succeeds. It certainly is not as bad as I thought it would be. It’s a touch more respectful than I thought it would be (mostly. the Matt Walsh character is a far more jerkish version of Sean Casey).
If you really want to watch and appreciate chasing? Watch the Weather Channel – they have three different shows about it and they are far more educational and at times, even entertaining. They are about the real people doing the real work. I don’t need Hollywood when the real thing is very accessible to me.
If you were at all interested – yeah go ahead. I don’t imagine you’ll hate it.
If you weren’t at all interested – give it a hard pass.
If you were the least bit curious, or after reading my review curious, matinee at BEST. Redbox/Netflix at worst.