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Jake is a storm chaser whose friend Dr. Branson has developed a machine that can help detect tornados and provide earlier warnings. Samantha 'Sam' Callen is an auditor who has come to evaluate the project and decide whether more research should be conducted or not. Jake must try and make the machine work and also convince Sam not to shut down the research. They must also dodge tornados in the meantime. Written by
Josh Pasnak <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Quickly churned out to cash in on the Twister hype, this made for TV movie offers a sub-par version of just about everything in that 1996 blockbuster. Bruce Campbell may be in it, but Sam Rami ain't the director. Too bad. The story of this film, like that of Twister revolves around a team of scientists hoping to perfect a machine that can be left in the path of a tornado and record all sorts of information about them. Similar characters and plot tangents are used here as well. We meet people who somehow claim to have instincts that will tell them when and where these storms will hit. We have civilians put in harm's way, and somehow we have a bad guy and a love interest for the main character.
What we don't have however, is a budget. The special effects of this film look like something film school students from nearby UT Austin would have come up with for class credit. Many scenes are just simply filmed after someone turned on a wind machine and watched things blow around. Any tornadoes we actually see just look like smudges superimposed on a pre-recorded shot of the countryside. In some scenes, our main characters stand only a few feet away from the devastation as its unfolding, and look like they are more concerned about when the catering truck is going to show up. There are lots and lots of dead spots throughout as this is paced abysmally.
The acting isn't terrible in some spots. Campbell will at least remind you of more interesting things he has been in. Veteran character actor L.Q. Jones is a hoot as an old codger who believes he is somehow at one with nature. Ernie Hudson is always likable. The lead actress known as "Shannon Sturges" is too pretty for her role. Few other actors seem recognizable.
Look, Twister was also a poor film, but it had the power of its convictions, a better cast, and a lot more money behind it. Tornado! is a cheap attempt at a cash in. You can make a TV movie and still make a quality project. Still I think Dark Night of the Scarecrow is perhaps the best TV film I've ever seen. Tornado! looks like the cheap quickie it is. It even tries to justify itself by trying to suggest global warming has a direct relationship to more severe tornadoes. As if viewers needed another excuse for an eye roll.... 4 of 10 stars.
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