Film Review: Tornado Warning

"I can predict the weather.. but not now it's only the opening scene.."

“I can predict the weather.. but not now it’s only the opening scene..”

A relatively rare TV movie that has a strange thought for physics, a strange thought for tone and a strange need to give random factual ramblings as narrative for the film.

Release Date: 2002

Running Time: 90 mins

The Premise

After losing her mother in a tornado, like all good female leads in Tornado movies, she battles against her wannabe-predictor father that tornadoes are in fact unable to be predicted. So when she is sent to document his predictions, they are forced to get along.

The Disasters Faced

Tornadoes, a stupid comedy mayor, plot holes, slow car chases and the occasional rattling of doors.

"Run away from that strong breeze!!"

“Run away from that strong breeze!!”

The Execution

Tornado Warning is very much a late afternoon TV movie. It focuses less on effects (thankfully due to the poor CGI and low-budget) and more on trite relationship. The problem that this stance brings is that you need decent acting and a decent script. The acting is fine. The leads do what they can with the script but the script itself has lots of strange inconsistencies. People talk a bit out of context and sometimes conversations aren’t fluid, with the wrong person answering a question. However, things take a turn for the better when crazed mayor Joan Van Ark enters the frame as the Mayor of the lady in charge of the town about to be hit by a F5. She overacts and gives a maniacal evil theatrical performance that is a complete shift in tone – for the better. That keeps you going for the remainder as the poor show of a tornado blows through.

The Effects

The CGI is frankly – awful. It is barely used though thankfully. What is interesting is it shoehorned in real life footage that doesn’t even vaguely match up with what’s going on-screen. There’s barely no destruction on-screen and the way things are damaged. A shelter door doesn’t blow open but a house gets blown away. A car doesn’t move yet people in front of it are swept into the sky. It’s quite frustrating and jarring.

Why it’s Worth Watching

Aside from the Mayor who is great, there’s some fact shooting that goes on and that’s quite interesting and the whole can you/can’t you predict the weather is an interesting debate. Aside from that, everyone is relatively likeable but it’s not anything that’s not been seen before.

The Drinking Game

Why one failed weather predictor needs so many news reporters following him I’ve no idea! Each time you think Huh? – drinky drinky!

Favourite Character

I came for Thea Gill, who has that calm ethereal quality to her at all times, but Joan Van Arc steals the show with her over the top “show must go on” performance. It’s such a tonal shift it’s like no one told her this film was meant to be serious!

Weirdest Moment

The very beginning see’s Thea’s parents swept away in a Tornado despite the fact the car she is sitting in and the parents’ hair are barely moving at all. One parent flies downwards under the car, one flies upwards. You assume both have died but no, daddy is alive. The whole scene is really, really weird. So is the fact someone gets arrested for voicing an opinion in a barely used coffee shop.

A promo shot before all hell doesn't really break loose

A promo shot before all hell doesn’t really break loose

Random Trivia

The big theatre in the town is in fact The Garry Theatre in Winnipeg. Also notice the parade that goes across the total of one street.

Goofy Quote

“It’s a F5!!!” *cues shot of the tiniest tornado in the whole film*

Conclusion

Poorly made, silly and confusing at times – it has its heart in the right place and the focus on predicting tornadoes is, whilst nothing new, seemingly handled with respect. It’s everything else that’s a bit of a mess. Not the worst tornado film – but not up there with the best of them.

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