THE DARK SIDE OF NATURE.
When Bill Harding and his girlfriend (Bill Paxton, Jami Gertz) go to see his soon-to-be ex-wife (Helen Hunt) to get the divorce papers signed, they get caught up chasing tornadoes in Oklahoma. The visual effects may look cheaper by today’s standards, but this is still a hugely entertaining (and well-made) disaster movie. Much like the bus in the director’s previous film, Speed (1994), there’s just no stopping Mother Nature here; the filmmakers skilfully build tension and it’s fun following the adventures of Hunt’s storm-chasing team. The two stars are very likable together and it’s easy to ignore the stupid and unbelievable aspects of the formula.
1996-U.S. 114 min. Color. Widescreen. Produced by Michael Crichton, Kathleen Kennedy, Ian Bryce. Directed by Jan De Bont. Screenplay: Michael Crichton, Anne-Marie Martin. Cast: Helen Hunt (Jo Harding), Bill Paxton (Bill Harding), Cary Elwes (Jonas Miller), Jami Gertz, Lois Smith, Alan Ruck… Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jake Busey.
BAFTA: Best Special Visual Effects. Razzie: Worst Written Film Grossing Over $100 Million.
Last word: “When I was researching this originally, and I started reading about the Tri-State Tornado of March 18th, 1925, which still holds all the records – a tornado that stayed on the ground for 3 1/2 hours, two miles wide and traveled through three states: Missouri, Illinois and Indiana – a couple years ago I tracked with a buddy of mine, Scott Thomson, who played Preacher in [‘Twister’], we went and we tracked the trail. We went to all these historical societies in towns like Murphysboro [in Illinois], that looked like Hiroshima when this thing went through, and we talked to old timers and… You know, it doesn’t make any difference how many of these warning systems they have. There’s a significant event like that, that’s almost a biblical event, and the old timers, you know what they say down there: ‘If it happened once…’” (Paxton, CraveOnline)