Written by: Ron Bricker
I never really liked the disaster movie genre. Although from a technological filmmaking perspective these movies are quite impressive (how I thought storm chasing with Jo, Bill, and Dusty was so cool), it is ridiculous to be bombarded with blatant foreshadowing that even the actors caught onto the moment they signed on to the project. The cheesy one-liners are enough to make me gag on my butter-laced popcorn. The overdrawn sexual tension between woman, man, and natural disaster is about the only thing that is really interesting about this film genre, but because I'm waiting endless hours for the couple to just do it in the back of a car while catastrophe strikes in the trailer right next door…well, I just lose my patience and sigh in disbelief that two characters do not give in to carnal embraces. Sadly, we never see the couple sex it up on screen leaving us with the disaster element, (tornado, volcano) which is the sexiest actress (lets just follow with the general trend of the disaster genre) in the films. However, at the end of the day, I do enjoy a destructive film where inhabitants test their stupidity in order escape CGI graphics. Dante's Peak and Twister are two prime examples of how the genre of the "disaster film" fails to really make any poignant points that may help us to avoid natural disaster from striking the nearest theater by you, BUT the creators are aware that this genre of film's sole purpose is to propagate female slander, thus crowning men the winner- which is just plain ole fun in the world of cinema where so much money is pumped into stupidly, garbaged films. In order to equip potential audiences the next time a disaster film crashes on your TV screens, I will prepare you with the following information so that you may amuse yourselves at the same pleasure that the cast and crew of each disaster film had while making this film.
I recently saw an airing of Dante's Peak on TV and aside from not showing grandma Ruth's sulfuric acid eaten legs and Pierce Bronson's wrist bone fracture, this miserable film was fully intact. Plenty of lava, thunderstorms, and ash, lots of it. The volcano eruption just mysteriously coincides with the burning desire between geological expert, Dalton and city mayor (and mother of two children who seem to love their grandmother more than their mother…try that for Freudian thoughts). Although it is nice to marvel at Twister which combines acting skills (we are talking about Helen Hunt, future polygamist-player Bill Paxton, and who would guess, Phillip Seymour Hoffman), flying cows, and an assortment of twisters, this film fails to really deliver any type of trust-worthy attention to consider it a decent, well-thoughtful movie. Rather, we are pitted in the hellish flames where tornadoes are spawned every half-hour in order to stir "possible" sexual tension between Jo and Bill.
Lines like "she is silent" when referring to a volcano personifies her as a she-devil. Why on earth are they referring to a volcano as a she? Perhaps the English language has reverted itself to the ancient days of Latin, then, I realized that this ridiculous film simply had a script error (or maybe trying to flash some type of "creative ecstasy") or the creators were obviously making some type of pseudo-intelligent (oh, the screenwriter just wished that) symbolism for this volcano has severe PMS and it is just a matter of time where she will turn psychopath and go on a killer rampage by unleashing her wrath full of flaming lava and powdered ash. Most viewers will not understand why the volcano is overacting like an overly jealous girlfriend (think Eddie Murphy's fat wife in Norbit) but the volcano is the active catalyst in cock-blocking the would be couple Dalton and Ms. Mayor with two children from finally connecting. Instead of us just witnessing a Casablanca love-story, we are left with this lingering romantic string which never develops because Ms. Mayor has quite a bit of obstacles to overcome in order for her to successfully land her main man:
1) Her overbearing and dumb children.
2) A mean ex-mother-in-law
3) A tumultuous volcano right next door.
What is a woman to do? I mean slinging around Terminator's arms is one thing, but to deal with unruly kids who do not show her that much love (please- they care more about the new man next door and grandma more than her!), an old-hag who in the midst of trying (and I am making quite an overstatement) to pack stuff up and escape safely strolls down memory lane while looking through a photo album?–this single mom has a lot of her plate. Then, not to mention the enormous volcano which is wreaking havoc upon her tiny town which, honestly, being a mayor is not worth shit in this case. Let me present to you, a perfect example of how the woman simply cannot have any control in her life. The volcano merely represents another female figure obstacle which she cannot overcome in order to land her main man who is obviously checking her out. The volcano not only demonstrates how her kids betrayed her, how her fellow townspeople no longer follow her guidance by, well-bailing out of town, but also how she never seemed to follow her true feelings in getting herself some Dalton lovin'.
Twister is one of my guilty pleasure movies. It was one of the first films to pump up the juice on CGI graphics; however, aside from that, it is completely and utterly unrealistic to understand how the two main characters managed to escape unhurt from an F5 tornado by strapping themselves to a well (and why when they looked up to see the insides of the tornado that they did not get debris in their eyes). Husband-wife teams are always fun in films, especially those that belong to the comedy genre, but what is a film to do when you have a former married couple and the presence of a new fianc ée? Well, nothing really. Fiancée is some type of psychological/counseling work but she does not function too well in this story, although she does represent the normal person (us watching attentively) in pondering what the hell are these two doing with their wild chases to lift Dorothy into orbital storm space.
Although Twister does not seem to fall into the same hole as Dante's Peak in referring to the volcano as a cock-blocking, vicious woman, we do witness some signs of gender-bending usage of Dorothy, the twister reading mechanism that Jo and Bill created (that Jonas later stole and became a sellout by leaving the team for some cooler, better paying job). Bill's testosterone fused dispute with Jonas regarding copyright and intellectual property of Dorothy played out like two young adolescents fighting over the girl who kissed both of them at the same time. Intellectual property is a big topic nowadays; however, from what we have seen up until the last fifteen minutes, we know that Dorothy is well–a piece of shit because they don't know how to elevate those sensors.
Jo and Bill were a happy, married couple; but for whatever the circumstances, they did not stay together. The tornado functions less as a cock-blocker, but more as a catalyst for igniting their mutual obsession. The biggest one is their long lost love. For Jo, it is what she loves and hates (if an F5 tornado swooped up your father, wouldn't you feel the same), and for Bill–well, he is just following his manly instincts in chasing the craziest female that ever sprawled across Wikita. Bill and Jo share these glances which to the normal eye seem amorous, but it is really the love of chasing the the object well—presents itself in the film as being feminine but is really an object (the tornado, my god!). It is only at the end of the film where they realize that Dorothy mated with the F5 and that they finally lost their tornado virginity by viewing its insides, that they finally got a grip on reality and realized—lets just give this marriage thing a second try and forget about those ten divorce papers of signing for another ten years… UNTIL we go chase the other big one!
What can we possibly learn from these disaster movies? Well…nothing…really!–Except for maybe the fact that we need to treat natural disasters as a woman because they will more than ever 1) prevent us from achieving our romantic conquests and/or 2) never allow us to get anywhere in the world by continuing to bog down us like an avalanche (no pun intended by placing another disaster element here). The two films analyzed here are examples of how the woman is personified as a vicious and fast-moving force that will sweep everything in its path like a woman on a rampage. Twister and Dante's Peak are perfect examples of this but, if you ever want to revisit the recent disaster film genre you can always make the case that The Day After Tomorrow only encourages the awkward incestuous relations between father-son duo Dennis Quaid and Jake Gyllenhaal. Trust me, thinking in those terms make that move a LOT more tolerable.