Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Ice Twisters review

Ice Twisters is a 2009 Canadian made-for-TV movie that can best be described as an episode of Castle - if the episode was a low-budget disaster movie set in one of Castle's books.
Main protagonist Charlie (Mark Moses) is a former scientist turned disaster novel writer, who's coincidentally doing a book signing/film interview in the same general area that the FSF (Federal Science Foundation) is testing their weather drones, that revolutionary can generate rain clouds, not just seed them. Of course, the experiment generates a freak storm at the book signing, and Charlie runs into his former love-interest/assistant Joanne (Camille Sullivan) - now the main scientist behind the weather drones - and forces himself onto their investigation. After another storm Joanne wants to pull the plug on the experiment, but we soon find out that the government official in charge and the other scientist have conspired and locked them out of the drone control program. The heroes go rogue, trying to stop the drones while battling worse and worse storms threatening to destroy the entire Portland area.

"We just need to shoot through at the right angle"
The first half of the movie has a surprisingly plausible set-up, with pretty well-written dialogue. Most of the actors both do and say things you could actually accept real people doing (bear in mind I'm comparing this to movies which often have plot-synopses like this: "Stunned, scientist David Koch discovers evidence that it was a shift in the Earth's polarity that triggered the last Ice Age.. In just 24 hours." (from my newly bought 10 disaster movies DVD collection. No I don't know either if it's the ice age or the realization that only took 24 hours..)), and pretty much every scene with the main protagonist (Charlie) is laugh-inducing because of his snarky, arrogant attitude.
The one discrepancy is the government official - Frank, played by Robert Moloney - who apparently decided to show up on set ready to play the main villain in a Bond movie, and nobody dared tone him down. Which is fortunate, because his performance is by far the best thing about the movie, to such a degree that you don't even care that the movie goes off the deep end during the second half.

Romantic sub-plot development, shot by hiding in the grass..?
None of that however explains the weird creeper camera work, where the camera man is often laying on the ground or hiding behind furniture/buildings during exposition or character development scenes. It's like Mark Moses and Robert Moloney thought they were doing a comedy, most of the side-characters thought they'd act somewhere between a biopic and a (poorly acted) drama (besides the aid, who was obviously playing in an action-thriller terrorism movie..), while the cinematographer was making a slasher-movie.

Saving the earth at the University's HAARP facility, framed by the background shelves
The movie ends with the heroes (the ones who survived) walking into the sunset(rise?) and the villain being confronted with his actions - sitting by his desk silently realizing that his job and life is over.
It is cliché-ily beautiful. His performance combined with the Castle-like attitude of Moses' character and the insane disaster shots/deaths in the second part makes most of the movie genuinely entertaining to watch.
If you're looking for a realistic disaster movie, you won't find it here (let me know if you -do- find one), but if you're looking for a silly, low-budget disaster flick, this one is definitely worth considering.
For me the biggest "quality" sign for these types of movies is "would I watch it again?" and for Ice Twisters, that's a definite yes, in fact, it'd probably be one of my pics for a disaster schlock night.

"Good luck in prison"
And Robert Moloney is definitely making my list of  "Ooh, it's that guy again, yay!" actors..

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