Jan De Bont directs Bill Paxton, Helen Hunt and Cary Elwes in this disaster movie where scientists chase tornados hoping to test a new gizmo that will help them predict their destructive movements better.
Twister was the big one of the summer of 1996. And while it never was going to win any acting gongs or screenplay plaudits, it delivers on its trailer’s promise in spades. For two hours you get to see apocalyptic weather from some dizzyingly close perspectives. Coming from the director of Speed, he engineers sequences where vehicles race and pursue and escape massive, swirling behemoths of devastation over and over again. Twister is a one trick pony that loves performing its impressive trick. Even though it is an FX extravaganza, De Bont doesn’t push the CGI to breaking point like many of his mid-nineties peers. It was a new technology that had severe limitations as to what it could convincingly recreate on the big screen. Spielberg and Cameron knew it was better to augment practical FX that survive at the forefront in the spotlight for prolonged periods with this new magic wand. But swirling masses and crazy debris actually fitted well within the burgeoning effects method’s wheelhouse. So here we get hurricanes and flying cows a plenty. It is a testament to the calculated orchestration of the set pieces that De Bont manages to put us in the path of danger again and again, every time making us squeeze our palms tighter as the peril unfolds. A rare lead role for Bill Paxton in a blockbuster, here the usually quirky scene stealer plays things straight and square jawed. He makes a fine fist of being a budget Kevin Costner or cut rate Harrison Ford… Meanwhile, lots of recognisable faces drive the other jeeps and RVs, none of them making quite as indelible an impression as Bill might have in a showy support.
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