It's tempting to point out that story often takes precedence over character in the works of author Michael Crichton, but that's letting the best-selling writer off the hook too easily. It's a lot like saying that the wheels take precedence over the engine in the design of an automobile: Either way, the car isn't going anywhere. Character and story are inextricably linked in the best storytelling, which is why so much of this big-budget special effects blockbuster falls woefully flat. Most of the characters here are really types, not people, crafted to serve the story's two purposes: explain mounds of technological and meteorological gobbledygook, or stand in awe of nature's fury (and then flee from same) when it makes its frequent onscreen appearances. Particularly annoying is the profusion of quip-prone supporting players. Unforgivably wasted among their number is superior character actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, playing a bizarre, hyperactive, and utterly distracting character named Dusty who needs Ritalin much more than a job chasing tornadoes. The romantic subplot between leads Bill Paxton and Helen Hunt isn't very involving and the attempts to personalize their professional endeavors by making her the victim of a childhood trauma and he the possessor of some Obi Wan Kenobi-like magical ability to predict a twister's path are laughable. Twister (1996) became infamous during its production for the staggering number of screenwriters hired to re-draft and polish its ailing story and the final result shows it. While visually impressive in its cutting-edge digital effects, the film displays little heart and soul, a stark reminder of the direction mainstream motion pictures are heading in the late 20th century.
by Karl Williams review