Friday, January 18, 2013

Christmas TV Movies Special: Christmas Twister

So, over Christmas I was staying with my parents and they don't have cable, just an antenna. So there are only so many channels to watch.

Which is the best explanation I have for how we ended up watching two ION Television Christmas specials. I wish I had some better reason, but they were on and that was it.

And I like to review movies, so here you go.

Christmas Twister

It was 11 p.m. when we caught the first few minutes of this one, and I have to admit that it was at least compelling (or terrible) enough that we stayed up until 1 a.m. watching it because we had to finish it.

That's about the best thing I could say for it.

About halfway through the movie, we were still blissfully under the assumption that it was made in the early 2000's, maybe even the late 90's. The basic plot is that global warming (I'm pretty sure nobody used the term climate change) has created a new weather pattern, which is causing tornadoes to hit Texas outside of tornado season.

Our hero, Ethan (Casper Van Dien), is the only scientist who believes this is real, and he predicts that on this particular day in December they're going to get a series of deadly tornadoes. The cocky weatherman (Richard Burgi) is in climate change denial and isn't having it. He broadcasts a report that they're all clear and everybody can get back to whatever fun they're having.

Of course, Ethan's wife (Victoria Pratt) is the newscaster for the same station, and so he keeps trying to convince her to broadcast a warning to save people and you've got the standard Jaws "we don't want to create a panic over nothing/this is a business decision/this guy is just a crackpot who wants to be right" storyline going on as well.

All of this, especially the half-cocked global warming is going to kill us all/global warming isn't real conflict, would have been acceptable and maybe even a little forward thinking if the movie had been ten years old.

But no, it was brand new. We were watching one of the first airings. I'm certain it was rushed into production after the more damaging than normal tornado season in 2011. But everything about it was rushed and half-done, and there was a lot of inexplicable stuff in there. How does a girl so stupid she's never heard of the Fujita Scale (if not by name, at least having heard of an F3 or F5 tornado) but has an internship with a tornado expert and storm chaser like Ethan? I get that she's an audience surrogate character designed so that the experts can patronizingly explain what's going on, but couldn't they have done that with an intern at the news station instead of an intern at a science lab?

In addition, the second she asks the dumb question of "what about an F6" you know the climax of the movie is going to be an F6 tornado, and I don't feel like I'm spoiling anything by telling you that. I'll just also say that after they describe it as "like a nuclear bomb" the destruction that it causes makes no sense whatsoever.

Also, there's a point in the climax where everybody is freaking out that the tornado may turn and head for a major power plant. It does, and then nothing happens.

Who in the world thought this script was ready for production? There's a dog that wanders through the plot for no reason, the teenage daughter wants to have a redemption arc but doesn't manage because she wasn't that bad and doesn't really end up doing anything that good either. Some of the actors do the best with what they've got to work with, including Pratt and Burgi. Some of them are better left unmentioned and made me want to hurl the remote at the television.

The effects are mostly terrible, but par for the course with this kind of made for TV disaster movie. The logic and physics that they ignore are ridiculous, and not even so ridiculous that they're funny.

If you're a fan of laughing at bad movies, then you might want to give this one a shot. But I don't think it'll even live up to the standards of bad disaster movies. I have a hunch it's going to be largely forgotten, even by enthusiasts. It's value is mostly in a "I can't believe I watched that" kind of thing.

Since this was longer than I planned, I'll get to the next movie next week instead of combining the two. Something to look forward to! /sarcasm