Don't breathe. Don't look back. The tornado's vision is based on movement.
An iconic film of 1996, at the height of the Disaster Movie revival. Twister tells the story of a Rag Tag Bunch Of Misfits who chase tornadoes for a living. The main duo are scientist Dr. Jo Harding (Helen Hunt) and her former husband Bill Harding (Bill Paxton). Among the many others is Dr. Melissa Reeves (Jami Gertz), Harding's current fiancée, providing a Love Triangle of sorts. Also a tale of vengeance against the tornadoes that deprived a little girl of her father. Also a villainous evil team of tornado chasers that seek to beat Our Heroes to the punch at a scientific breakthrough.Twister was popular not because of its groundbreaking or interesting plot. The love-story is hackneyed and loaded with instant characterization and tornadoes do not work that way. The real draw of Twister was its ground-breaking special effects featuring some of the most realistic and thrilling images of tornadoes ever created for film. This isn't The Wizard of Oz (though the film does feature a "Dorothy" in it...)The film went on to become the number-two top grossing film of 1996 and its special effects won it numerous awards. While remembered these days with less fondness due to the lack of an interesting plot, it is credited for spawning a whole new generation of tornado chasers. Twister was also the first film ever released on DVD AND the last film put out on HD DVD in the U.S. (though the very last HD DVD worldwide was a German release of Death Proof).Not to be confused with the party game or the otherfilm from 1989 with the same name, which happens to be a comedy.
A Minor Kidroduction: The film opens with Jo as a child, watching in horror with her mother as her father gets sucked away by a tornado.
Anachronism Stew: The first scene is set in 1969 and contains numerous errors of the time period. Jo's father mentions the tornado bearing down on his home as possibly an F5, when the Fujita scale wasn't established until 1972.
Asshole Victim: Jonas. Doesn't help that he could have avoided his death if he wasn't so damn determined not to listen to Jo's warnings.
Bill[noticing truck has drifted off the road and is about to run into a parked combine harvester]: Whoa!
And of course, "We've got cows!"
Chekhov's Truck: Jo's truck in the first tornado chase sequence, that gets picked up and dropped onto the road, is a foreshadowing of how they'll eventually need to get their project "off the ground".
Dusty:[laughing] Well, there's some good news... I mean, it did fly...
City Mouse: Melissa is very out of place among the rest of the cast primarily for this reason.
Comedy of Remarriage: The main drama of the film is about how long it will take before Bill and Jo get back together - Bill arrives at the start of the film to collect the signed divorce papers from Jo and brings his fiance with him.
Cool Old Lady: Jo's Aunt Meg. Artist, inspiration to Jo, awesome cook, beef farmer, and has just enough Bad Ass in her that she insists she'll drive herself to the hospital after a twister completely devastates her house. She only consents to being put in an ambulance after she's told that her car also ended up in a tree.
Developing Doomed Characters: While the film opens with a tornado destroying a farm, much of the film is filler with the "kooky" team and the relationship drama instead of tornadoes destroying things. Hey, they only have so much money to spend on the effects. (Though actually none of the heroes die, just the "villains.")
Disposable Fiancé: Melissa bows out when she realizes Jo and Bill have started rekindling their feelings for each other.
Face Plant: Bill slams face-first into the back window of the truck when Jo slams on the brakes while he's in the back prepping the Dorothy probe during the third chase.
Foot Dragging Divorcee: Bill Harding is only there in tornado-alley at the time because he came there to badger his wife Jo into finally signing the divorce papers. Subverted in that they wind up back together and never do get the papers signed. (She did sign them...but only after Bill's new fiancee leaves him.)
After one of the team points out to Jo they're near her Aunt Meg's house.
The team: We crave sustenance. Food. Food. Fooood! [chanting]
Jo: No. We are absolutely not going.
[next shot has them pulling up in front of Aunt Meg's house]
After Jo's truck ends up totaled on its roof after the first chase.
Jo: It's a very pretty truck [about Bill's brand-spanking-new Dodge Ram]
Melissa: [oblivious] Thank you!
Bill: Don't even think about it. [nods] No way.
[cut to Bill's truck with Dorothy installed in the back]
Hate Sink: You can't really boo a series of tornadoes, so that's what Jonas is there for, the smug idea-stealing corporate-funded bastard. Jo tries to hate the tornadoes, though. She feels that she's seen that first tornado "miss this house, and miss that house, and come after [me]!"
Literal Metaphor: Melissa tells Bill, "When you told me you used to chase tornadoes, I thought it was just a metaphor!" It wasn't.
Love Cannot Overcome: Melissa breaks up with Bill before he goes chasing after the final tornado because, in her words, "I can't compete with this."
Made of Explodium: Jonas' chase car, already impaled with a cell-phone tower and picked up by the tornado, explodes spectacularly when it hits the ground. Not only do cars in tornadoes not explode that way but the Special Effects Failure is as blatant as it gets.
Major Injury Underreaction: Even though she and her dog have just been rescued from a house so badly damaged by an F4 tornado that the structure collapses shortly thereafter, and she herself has suffered numerous injuries related to same, Jo's aunt continues to insist that she can drive herself to the hospital right up until Rabbit informs her that her car is in a tree around the corner. While this seems silly, it's also plausible that she's suffering from shock or a concussion from the experience and thus isn't thinking logically.
Plus, when they give the Dorothy probes wings by using every aluminum can they can find, all of the cans are Pepsi. Which may not be that big of a stretch when it comes to soda brand loyalty, but it's unlikely that every house in the general vicinity of an area that uses "Coke" as a generic term would be Pepsi drinkers.
Protagonist-Centered Morality: Jonas' villainy is largely an Informed Trait. He does nothing legally wrong (unlike the heroes), and is only guilty of being a tremendous douche. Keep in mind though, this was a mid-90's film, and selling out to "The Man" was a mortal sin in 90's pop culture. No wonder he took a cell tower to the chest.
Punch Clock Villain: While Jonas is just a Jerkass, his team seems to actually have some sort of respect for Jo's team, and their skill at storm chasing. Jonas' driver notes just before his death that Jo and Bill would never lead them into harm's way.
Ragtag Band of Misfits: The team run by Jonas are corporate sponsored, and all drive matching black vans, wear uniforms and act professional. The team run by Jo, on the other hand, drive their own cars, dress in street clothes and act insane.
Reality Is Unrealistic: The film received some flack from film critics for the number of tornadoes to appear in a short time frame. While this is unusual, the current record for tornadoes in a single 24 hour period is 206. This was in 2011. Before that, the record was 148 in 1974, which the movie, made in 1994, likely used for their reference point. While a large number of tornadoes at once is unusual, storms that spawn multiple tornadoes aren't uncommon either.
Real Place Background: Jo's aunt Meg lives in Wakita, an actual town in northern Oklahoma. Shooting took place in the actual town and several buildings were demolished to give the look of the community getting decimated by a tornado.
Theres No Kill Like Overkill: When Jonas' van gets picked up by the tornado, only his driver seems to have been impaled by the cell tower, leaving a Hope Spot open that he's still alive... then the vehicle is shown flying to the ground and exploding in a mushroom cloud, leaving no doubt that, yep, he's a goner.
Jonas, who pointedly ignores Jo and Bill's warning about his vehicle and the placement of the oncoming Twister just because they don't like each other. He even ignores his own driver who expresses the same concern and has even less motivation to see them both die a windy death.
Jo's father at the start of the movie. You're safe in the storm shelter, but you look at the door and see it rattling. What do you do? If you answered with stay the frell away, congratulations! You're smarter than he was. His wife and daughter do exactly this and live.
Trailer Park Tornado Magnet: Notably averted here, of all movies. Although tornadoes devastate several farmhouses, two towns, a drive-in theater and a whole bunch of empty fields, they never once whack a trailer park.
True Companions: If the lunch scene at Aunt Meg's house doesn't show that the stormchasers are this, nothing does.
Villainy-Free Villain: Jonas, for daring to accept funding for his experiments and "copying" the design of a tracking device he probably helped develop in the first place. Really, the only thing that makes him a villain is his rudeness. It becomes doubly silly when you realize that most storm chasers out there would kill to receive actual funding, and that there's a corporation out there wealthy and interested enough in storm chasing to fully outfit a team of 20 people with state-of-the-art equipment!