Flimsy plot, but amazing special effects
The M.O.W. - wrote on 08/01/08
"Jo Harding" (Helen Hunt) lost her father to an F5 tornado, the most dangerous of its kind. Now she is a scientist out to find out what makes these bad boys tick.
While out with her team, she runs into her soon-to-be ex-husband, "Bill" (Bill Paxton), who left the storm-chasing biz to work as a weatherman. "Bill" is pretty much an expert of how a twister reacts, and can tell what it's about to do by just looking at it. However, what he wants is for "Jo" to complete signing their divorce papers.
While having some small-talk, "Jo" reveals to "Bill" that she had built a new tornado examination device that he designed, but never brought out of the planning stages himself. The machine, which has small plastic balls filled with sensors, was nicknamed "Dorothy," named after the character from "The Wizard of Oz."
Then the predictable happens -- a tornado touches down, and "Bill", along with his new love Melissa (Jami Gertz), join in on the chase. However, they are not alone, as a competing group of storm-chasers, with a much bigger budget, is also chasing the same storms.
When it comes to the story itself, there are many plot holes. First off, the other team is obviously the bad guys when we first meet them -- heck, even their cars are the villainous black. Personally, I'm surprised they aren't given black hats to really make it obvious.
Another thing that is obvious is that "Bill" and "Jo" still care for each other. It would have been nicer if one was presented as one is still in love with the other, while the other slowly realize they are still in love.
A huge problem with this story is character development. "Jo" and "Bill" appear to have the most development, but the rest have little to none. I didn't connect to any of the supporting cast, nor did I connect with the two lead characters at all. Between the frequent tornadoes, there was ample opportunity to develop the characters, but those were totally missed.
The performances from the cast, with exception of the bad guys who are poorly developed and not really seen long on-screen, are pretty good. The team the movie centers around gives the audience a pretty good feel of their relationship as a team. I felt as if these people have known each other for quite some time.
What truly carries this movie is the incredible special effects, which are better for a sound system like the ones in movie theaters. They are quite believable storms thanks to the use of high-powered fans for the wind and the computer graphics. They really nailed the power of tornadoes in this film.
The rest of the visuals are not as memorable. Most of the film's scenes take place in the cabin of the cars used by the team members. They also have shots taken from the air where there is nothing around for miles except crops or trees.
The director, Jan de Bont was handed a script with a weak plot and incredible special effects and a pretty good cast. However, all he could produce was a special effects movie.
This movie would be best viewed in wide-screen format, and stereo surround-sound. Only the special effects makes this film worth seeing, and that is the only reason I can recommend it.