Friday, January 22, 2016

#1,985. Stormchasers (1995)

Directed By: Greg MacGillivray

Starring: Surindra Bhandari, Howard Bluestein, Hal Holbrook

Trivia: Winner of a Gold Camera Award at the U.S. International Film & Video Festival

Before Jan De Bont’s Twister, before the Discovery Channel’s Storm Chasers series, there was this 1995 IMAX film. Directed by Greg McGillivray, Stormchasers captures the excitement as well as the intensity of tracking down a major storm, all in an effort to collect data that might help researchers and scientists better understand these forces of nature and, if possible, save the lives of those in harm’s way.

Both in the air (the film opens with a wind glider heading into a storm, then later we join a military aircraft as it flies into the eye of a hurricane) and on the ground (Professor Howard Bluestien of the University of Oklahoma and some of his students travel the Midwest’s Tornado Alley looking for twisters), Stormchasers follows brave men and women as they risk their lives to understand what it is that makes these storms tick. Narrated by Hal Holbrook and with a score composed by Patrick Williams, Stormchasers is jam-packed with thrills.

I have to admit that I get a charge out of watching movies like Twister and Stormchasers, and I’d love to be part a group like the ones presented in this documentary, whether it be climbing aboard a plane to check out an impending hurricane (these segments date back to 1993, when Hurricane Emily plowed into the Outer Banks of North Carolina) or hauling ass to catch up to a thunderstorm (in one of the film’s most impressive scenes, we watch a tornado form in the clouds, then touch down). Though it does spend some time explaining the science behind these storms (with CG reenactments to show us what causes them to spring up), Stormchasers is at its best when following those who throw caution to the 120 MPH wind.

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