As many long-term readers will know, one of our missions here at the ISCFC is to review every single SyFy Channel original movie. We’ve already done quite a lot of them, have found good and bad (mostly bad), but the number left to review is still vast. To that end, here’s “Ice Twisters”, an extraordinarily generic “okay, this is definitely SyFy” effort from 2009 with a hefty array of people who wish they were famous enough to be “That Guy” actors.
The thing about doing the same thing over and over again is you get pretty good at it. The setup is slick and almost perfect…perfect, if you were thinking of having a nap and didn’t want to miss any important information. A group of climate scientists have figured out how to make it rain, and they’re doing a field experiment, in a field, with a couple of big military-style tents filled with important tech stuff. It’s a success! At the same time they’re celebrating, famed Michael Crichton / Stephen King-esque thriller writer Charlie Price is doing a book signing in a small town, of his new novel “Ionos-Fear”. I’d say there’s a strong chance of that being the movie’s working title, as it’s badass – but as we get a dissatisfied “fan”, we get tons more information about him. He’s a former scientist himself and his books are full of elaborate plans to save the day that aren’t always scientifically accurate. As that unhappy reader leaves the bookshop, the scientists say that they’re getting weird readings from a small town about 15 miles away, nowhere near the area their experiment was supposed to cover…
If you can’t tell every single thing that’s going to happen from that, then I’m not sure you’ve ever seen a movie before (much less a SyFy one). It takes a few minutes and even if it’s something we’ve seen a million times before, it’s really well done. I think my favourite of all the SyFy tropes is “a scientist finds himself close to a disaster related to his area of expertise, coincidentally” – okay, this time it’s a scientist turned author, but it’s still the same and still great.
There’s a weird-ish B-plot too, which had me wondering if it was some last-minute addition to bump the time up. On the road is a young couple who might not be an actual couple (maybe they’re students, or a student and his teacher – it’s hard to tell and they’re both too old to be college students. Oh, SyFy, why do you test me so?) They’re on their way to do a “day in the life” style piece on Charlie, which doesn’t sound too weird, but the thing is, they don’t come close to the other half of the plot til after the hour mark. They drive through some beautiful mountainous country, visit the town which got hit by the ICE TWISTER and then find an abandoned local TV station to broadcast their footage of the disaster.
Charlie is old friends with Joanne, someone high up in (MADE UP FEDERAL DISASTER AGENCY) so the bulk of the action is him, her and the scientists trying to figure out just how their tampering in God’s domain went wrong, while the top brass want to keep the experiment running, no doubt for nefarious purposes (honestly, I didn’t pay tons of attention to this part). It’s so super-generic, with the only difference being there’s not much of a romantic subplot between X and Y. If you’ve seen any SyFy movies, you’ve definitely seen something very similar to this.
The effects are quite decent, I suppose – things fly through the air and at least most of the time it looks like they’re actually flying through the air. Kudos must also go to the person who scouted out the shooting locations, too, as they did some fine work. A nice small town, beautiful mountains, believable destruction…enthusiastic thumbs up to that person. A big thumbs down, though, to the person who worked on the logic. There’s one scene where our couple are running towards a car, with a person inside it, and they’re close enough to be heard over the rapidly incoming twister. The car gets sucked up into the air, and the people are fine. Cars weigh a lot more than people, you guys (even me, and I’m way heftier than anyone in this movie).
Everything else is fine, I guess. The acting is dependably bland, with X trying a little too hard perhaps, and the bad guys not seeming quite bad enough, but otherwise it’s okay. It’s really difficult to summon up much of any feeling either way towards “Ice Twisters”. It does feature a welcome return for ISCFC favourite trope “haha all our friends are dead”, as the main couple remember all their fallen comrades, so there’s that.
Rating: thumbs in the middle
(because thumbs down would imply I hated it – I didn’t, I nothinged it)