Christmas Twister (2012)
Film review #486
Director: Peter Sullivan
SYNOPSIS: Ethan Walker, a meteorologist, detects a tornado in Texas that he believes is a herald for much stronger tornadoes that are about to ravage Texas over the coming day. His wife Addison, a local news anchor, is initially sceptical, but believes him as more tornadoes start to appear. As the storms worsen, it is a race against time as Ethan and Addison try to get their kids to safety, and convince the local TV station to warn people to seek shelter…
THOUGHTS/ANALYSIS: Christmas Twister (Also known as F6: Twister) is a 2012 TV disaster movie about a twister at Christmas time (unsurprisingly). The film starts off introducing Ethan Walker, a meteorologist who detects a tornado in the Fort Worth area of Texas, which he believes is a precursor to a much more devastating series of tornadoes. However, his modelling, which accounts for climate change affecting the frequency of tornadoes, is not used by others, and has gotten him into trouble before by causing mass panic in Chicago when no tornadoes happened. He calls up his wife Addison, a news anchor at the local TV station, to warn her, but she is initially sceptical, but more tornadoes happen, and she is convinced to help him. The film revolves around the Walker family, as Ethan tries to get their kids to safety, and Addison tries to convince the news station that the danger is real and to get the public to seek shelter. This very typical made-for-TV disaster movie offers up a disaster of relatively mild proportions, with character arcs that are predictable and without interest. The premise of the main character having the only accurate weather modelling because his accounts for climate change is a bit absurd, and his explanations are loaded with jargon that makes little to zero sense. The typical three act structure is present, but doesn’t really build the story up to a climax, and just repeats the same set-ups throughout. Probably the worst thing about it is there’s no real scale of the disaster that everyone talks about: the death count is mentioned off-hand as being about 20-30, and there’s only around three to four on-screen deaths, with only one of those being an established character. As it stands, there’s no real sense of danger to the main cast. Also, there’s the fact that nearly every building has a tornado shelter so it’s hardly a mammoth task to get everyone to safety when they see a tornado coming. Ethan going to pick his kids up from school just seems a bit pointless when the schools will obviously have tornado shelters in an area that is frequently hit by tornadoes.
For a disaster movie, there’s not a lot of destruction to see: the film uses obvious stock footage of the aftermath of a tornado, but even that doesn’t look too bad. The images of people rolling away tires and other debris in the aftermath is just so contrived it’s hilarious. Most of the film also doesn’t take place during a tornado, rather it just deals in the aftermath of them, and the danger seems to mostly consist of just rescuing people from underneath rubble. The budget of the film clearly doesn’t have the capacity to have whole scenes be blown about and destroyed, and so we are left with some mild shaking and some really bad CG renders of tornadoes that don’t really look that impressive or strong: for example, you see people within about ten metres or so running away from the tornado, which at the strength it supposedly is, would suck them up right away. Again, this makes the tornadoes seem much less threatening than they are. The characters do have their own story arcs and purposes, which I guess is a positive, but it’s all very standard stuff that you’ve seen plenty of times before. None of the “jokes” are particularly funny: the one scene with tornado chasers barely escaping with their lives ending with the line “This is gonna make us a fortune on YouTube!” made me want to just walk away from this wreck.
If you’re looking for some Christmas spirit in this film, there isn’t really any. The film’s setting in winter is somewhat important to the story, as the tornadoes appear in December outside of tornado season due to global warming etc. but there’s no other sense of it being Christmas apart from one scene with a mall Santa. The weather is basically summer, and there are no Christmas decorations or anything adorning the scenes. All in all, it just feels like a typical low budget disaster film that fails to really portray any big scope of disaster, focusing instead on a fairly typical family that aren’t ever in any real danger (because they live in an area frequented by tornadoes, so there’s plenty of tornado shelters). Don’t ruin your Christmas spirit by watching this.