MSRP $14.99
STUDIO Arc Entertainment
• Trailer

The Pitch

It’s more like a roving magnetic vortex, but who cares when your movie is called Metal Tornado?

The Humans

Lou Diamond Phillips, Nicole DeBoer, Greg Evigan, Gordon Yang

The Nutshell

When energy corporation Helios World attempts to harvest clean energy from solar flares, a design flaw unleashes a magnetic tornado into the Pennsylvania countryside. An intrepid astrophysicist (Lou Diamond Phillips) will stop at nothing to keep the tornado from destroying Philadelphia.

"Good job, everyone. We've successfully set up this company for failure."

“Good job, everyone. We’ve successfully set up this company for failure.”

The Lowdown
Metal Tornado. Say it aloud. Sounds great, doesn’t it? Just rolls off the tongue. It sounds like a cavalcade of crystal steeds galloping out of your mouth and into the ears of headbanging metal fans. It sounds like caramel wishes bathed in chocolate dreams. Sounds like a great fucking movie title. How could it disappoint? After all, the DVD’s amazing cover art boasts “nothing can prepare you for this”.

As it turns out, nothing could prepare me for how monumentally boring this flick is. How do you get a title as bitchin’ as Metal Tornado and write a film that is seventy-five percent phone conversations? This Canadian made-for-TV production completely drops the ball by taking itself too seriously and writing strictly within its tiny budget.

“Welp, guess I can’t ghost ride the whip anymore.”

Sure, Gordon Yang’s direction is devoid of style and bland as all get-out, but the screenplay is this film’s arthritic backbone. The dialogue is full of tongue-twisting technobabble, with gems like “geosynchronous collective satellites” and “d-layer penetration of the ionosphere”. The words “metal tornado” aren’t even spoken in the film, because the characters are content to call it a “roving magnetic vortex”.

The film is only rated PG, and it’s appropriately tame. One action scene features several yokels cowering in a gas station while cans of six bean medley fly through the air. “It’s like a mass possession of inanimate objects!”, cries a woman. “There has to be an explanation!”, a man shouts back at her. Folks, a kid just got knocked unconscious by a can of beans and is now bleeding on the floor. Surely, there must be more relevant topics of conversation.

“Say ‘where my hose at’ one more goddamned time, lady.”

The most egregious offense is that the majority of the film feels like several repeating scenes:

  1. The tornado causes minor damage and/or injury.
  2. Characters talk on the phone about the tornado.
  3. Corporate dickhead doubts the existence of the tornado.

Repeat ad nauseum, rearrange order as necessary.

This happens more times than I care to count, until the characters realize that this thing is eventually going to get out of the boondocks and destroy Philadelphia.

The film never allows itself to let loose and become an enjoyable B-movie. Nobody pushed the concept far enough during preproduction, resulting in a film that never engages. The DVD cover promises scenes of mass destruction, featuring Lou Diamond Phillips running away from the tornado as it chases him down a city street. This never happens. The only time our hero crosses paths with the tornado is while he cowers under a bridge in the middle of nowhere; the titular vortex whooshing past like a loud sneeze. The stakes always feel low, despite the fact that one of these tornados rips up the Eiffel Tower. “It was too late for Paris”, a character laments.

Meanwhile, in France...

Meanwhile, in France…

Speaking of characters, most of them sound so Canadian that you’d swear they were chugging maple syrup just before the cameras started rolling. One exception, though: Lou Diamond Phillips delivers a surprisingly decent performance, reciting the ridiculous techno-dialogue with aplomb.

LDP might make a good anti-tornado, but the titular twister is a sorry excuse for a force of nature. It’s a huge column of lightning and metal debris rendered in god-awful CGI, becoming a mess of garbled pixels by the film’s climax. Also, one of these unstoppable tornados forms in a scientist’s basement and kills him during the film’s opening scene, and we never see it again.

The main twister is fairly fucknormous by the thirty-minute mark, yet hardly any character has seen it. Meanwhile, it’s crunching through rural Pennsylvania like a goddamned kaiju and people are looking all over, going “It must be here somewhere!”. It’s a wonder any of these characters drove themselves to work that morning.

"Honey, come give poppa diamond a hug."

“Honey, come give poppa Diamond a hug.”

Needless to say, I think all of you can skip Metal Tornado. It’s criminally bland and boring, despite Lou Diamond Phillips’ best effort to pull this sputtering mess up onto its feet. It’s full to the brim with bad CGI, awful dialogue, a baffling script, and more telephone conversations than a telethon. I can sum my feelings up thusly: if I wanted to listen to an hour of people talking on the phone about a metal tornado, I would’ve made Metal Tornado.

The Package

There’s not much to see here, folks. The transfer, while crisp, is really lackluster. The movie is lit in a pretty flat manner, so the transfer looks flat and desaturated. The detail is fine for a standard definition transfer, but it’s hardly a reason to watch the film. The audio tracks (DD 5.1 and Stereo) are serviceable and clear, but won’t be winning any awards. The only special feature on the disc is the trailer, which is given its own submenu. It’s listed under “Special Feature”.


Out of a Possible 5 Stars