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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Tornado Valley
Tornado Valley
Image // Unrated // May 11, 2010
List Price: $27.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Justin Felix | posted April 24, 2010 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

[Reviewer's Note: Unfortunately, Image Entertainment sent DVD Talk a screener copy of Tornado Valley replete with periodic yellow text announcing it's a screener during the film along with a transition from color to black and white. Since this disc clearly does not represent the final product, only the film itself will be reviewed here.]

As I write this review of Tornado Valley, a soon-to-be-released direct-to-video disaster film from Image Entertainment, tornadoes are very much a part of the news. Ferocious - and deadly - twisters have popped up in Mississippi, a reminder that Mother Nature can certainly whip up a frenzy. Tornadoes are very real and very powerful, of course, which is what has made them such successful fodder for the big screen. Perhaps the most notable big budget event flick to capitalize on these twisters was the not-very-creatively titled Twister from 1996.

Tornado Valley starts off as if it were a clone of Twister. The first 11 minutes of the film occur 25 years in the past, with its heroine, at the time a young girl, surviving a deadly tornado strike. In Twister, Helen Hunt's character's father is taken away by a tornado in the opening sequence. In Tornado Valley, Liz McAdams (the young girl)'s mother is sucked away by a storm.

Actually, this extended prologue is perhaps the best part of the film. It develops in quiet intensity, with a nice sense of dread established. Even the score manages to be a propos in its sparseness. Sadly, the film clearly lacks the budget to deliver when it comes to the tornado, an unconvincing CG creation. A scene where Liz watches her mother's final moment, which is set up to be a devastating moment for the character's psyche, is completely undercut by a chuckle-inducing effects sequence.

Flash forward a quarter of a century, Liz (Meredith Monroe) is now a super-smart tornado expert with a PhD. She has a daughter of her own, and is recreating herself as a television weather reporter. In some ways, she's reminiscent of the late Brittany Murphy in Megafault, and like the Helen Hunt character in Twister, her personal life is just a bit in shambles.

Unlike Twister and Megafault, however, Tornado Valley, despite its cover art emphasizing a tornado, doesn't offer very many thrills. The aforementioned twister in the prologue is the only time the film shows a tornado until the climax. The middle hour or so involves talk-heavy scenes between Liz and her family, Liz and her estranged storm chasing husband Matt (Cameron Bancroft), et cetera, et cetera. While there's concern about two storm systems colliding, the plot developments are all rather boring, to be honest. Things liven up during the climax; however, like the prologue, the tension is undercut by some weak special effects work and a syrupy conclusion.

I appreciate how this film doesn't try to be one of those disaster-of-the-week types like Megafault with its wall-to-wall destruction. I also really like Meredith Monroe's performance: she has a nice screen presence and a striking countenance. However, the movie itself just isn't particularly interesting. I'd ultimately suggest Tornado Valley is worth a Redbox rental, but only if you're curious about it.

The DVD

Video:

See Reviewer's Note at the top of this review.

Sound:

See Reviewer's Note at the top of this review.

Extras:

See Reviewer's Note at the top of this review.

Final Thoughts:

See Reviewer's Note at the top of this review.

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