Look, I expected little to nothing from "Metal Tornado." Right up front, the title says it all and what to expect. However, given its pedigree as a SyFy made-for-TV movie, I did expect something lame and campy. Unfortunately, Gordon Yang's directorial debut fails to deliver even a shred of self-awareness and instead bombards viewers with right around 90-minutes of straight faced tedium, that, to top things off never begins to push the boundaries of its milquetoast PG rating. What it does offer is an unintentionally sentient, metal tornado and a lot of people talking on phones.
The premise for the film, as expected is made up of some wishy-washy, pseudoscience from a scientist desperately trying to stop the film's human villain, Jonathan (Greg Evigan) the CEO of a massive energy company from proceeding forward with a revolutionary form of green energy. Naturally, the goateed capitalist ignores common sense and proceeds, unleashing a vortex of electromagnetic energy that forms the basis of our titular un-natural disaster. Fortunately for the citizens of this innocuous town, the metal tornado is as lazy the film it calls home, showing up here and there, with the uncanny ability to enter an unintentional "silent mode" for the sake of "dramatic tension. General stores are menaced, a logger is harassed by his chainsaw, and a farm hand gains a scrape from flying debris, and...well...that's as exciting as "Metal Tornado" gets.
Luckily for viewers ready to throw in the towel after the first act, a hero arises, in the form of Lou Diamond Phillips as a brilliant scientist named Michael Edwards who works for Joanathan (yes, the film that I can recall, never gives him a last name). If there's one thing Michael does well it's look stressed and talk on phones, which is the one comical element of "Metal Tornado" that kept me full enraptured from start to finish. There are far more characters having imperative conversations on phones than scenes of the tornado wreaking havoc. It's a forgone conclusion that the acting in this Saturday night primetime blockbuster comes close to below average, with Lou Diamond Phillips collecting another paycheck in another SyFy movie. If I ever watch "Metal Tornado" again though, I'm going to try to imagine this is the same character from "Stand and Deliver" and he's finally putting to use all that calculus Edward James Olmos taught him.
I truly expected more from "Metal Tornado," I expected a bad movie yes, but one that I thought surely knew by its title alone it was supposed to be campy or exploitative. Instead, I got a lame PG-rated non-event populated by Lou Diamond Phillips and the dad from "My Two Dads" who wasn't Paul Reiser. In hindsight, "Metal Tornado" would have been a much more engaging film if Reiser was the corporate villain, playing a distant relative to "Aliens'" Carter Burke. Still, at the end of the day, the sheer mediocrity and ineptitude of the movie is enough to make it worth one mocking viewing.
The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer is a few notches above TV broadcast quality at best. Compression artifacts are mild but noticeable, while detail is average at best. Colors are on the natural side of the spectrum, while contrast is higher than desired, but not as obvious since the film is almost always heavily lit.
The Dolby Digital English 5.1 audio track is rather flat, sounding more like a slightly "enhanced" stereo track. Dialogue is more dominant than effects or score, but never so much so anything is truly lost. An English stereo track is also included.
"Metal Tornado" fails to deliver even on a pure camp level. The titular tornado is incredibly disappointing and the film's final act just drags along to an obvious, uninspired conclusion. Still, there are enough moments of stupidity and poor production quality to satisfy one's urge to mock something decidedly bad. Rent It.