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The Gratuitous B-Movie Column 5.5.14 Issue #305: Metal Tornado (2011)
Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz on 05.05.2014

The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Issue #305: Metal Tornado (2011)

MAYhem: Week 1

Hello, everyone, and welcome once again to the internets movie review column that hopes everyone had a great Free Comic Book Day (I did), The Gratuitous B-Movie Column, and I am your host Bryan Kristopowitz. In this issue, issue number three hundred and five, MAYhem begins with a review of the 2011 disaster flick Metal Tornado starring Lou Diamond Phillips.

Metal Tornado (2011)

Metal Tornado, directed by Gordon Yang, is one of those low budget natural disaster movies where the natural disaster in question is man-made. However, unlike other man-made natural disaster movies the man-made natural disaster in Metal Tornado is not a malfunctioning super secret military weapon. Instead, the disaster is a byproduct of massive corporate malfeasance. The company's heart was in the right place, sure, but the need to make money takes precedence over everything else.

The movie stars Lou Diamond Phillips as Michael Edwards, an astrophysicist working for the Helios World Corporation. Helios World, run by Jonathan Kane (Greg Evigan), has created a machine that can capture and then process energy from sun flares. Using what amounts to a series of satellites in space and a array of solar panels on the Earth's surface, the energy from the flares is meant to bounce off the satellites and travel down to the solar panels and then into a giant underground battery, where the energy can be transformed into electricity. If the technology works it could put an end to the world's dependence on fossil fuels for energy. Along with his girlfriend and fellow scientist Rebecca (Nicole de Boer) and hard nosed scientist and buddy Greg (Frank Schorpion), Edwards tests the machine for the first time. The test, for the most part, runs smoothly right up until the collection of energy in the solar panels. Something malfunctions, and only 98% of the energy goes into the underground battery. The remaining two percent is unaccounted for. Kane and Greg are happy with the 98% results; Edwards is concerned. Where did that two percent go?

So then some stuff happens, Edwards and Rebecca and Greg start going over the data, and what appears to be a blue tornado shows up and starts consuming every metal object in its path. After several blue tornado attacks and a quick investigation, Edwards believes that the blue tornado is a "rogue magnetic vortex" created from the missing two percent of energy. As expected, Kane wants to keep this news under wraps as it could affect his upcoming press conference about the machine. Greg is hesitant to believe his friend's assertions, too, mostly because he doesn't want to ruin everything he and Edwards have worked on for years. So then some more stuff happens, Edwards enlists the help of his uncle Ron (John Maclaren) to try to figure out what the heck is feeding this vortex thing, and the Helios World lab in Paris, France starts up its own machine, which then malfunctions in the exact same way as the American one.

Of course, none of this stuff would have happened had anyone at Helios World, including the douchebag Kane, had listened to Stephen Winters (Todd Duckworth), a former Helios World scientist who had gone off the deep end doing research on the sun flare project. At the beginning of the movie Winters, in his basement lab, creates his own blue magnetic vortex that decapitates him (off screen. This is a PG movie after all). Winters wife tries to contact Helios World right after her husband's accident but no one is willing to listen (Kane's secretary half-heartedly takes a message). Winters' wife does eventually get to talk to Edwards about what her husband found out, and what she does tell helps a bit, but I'd imagine that had she been able to talk to someone important earlier the little Pennsylvania town that Helios World is based in wouldn't have been destroyed. Oh, and Paris would have been saved, too.

Metal Tornado is one of the best low budget natural disaster movies I've ever seen. For one thing, it never drags, even when the scientist characters try to explain "in technical terms" what's actually happening. The overall timing of the movie is a little weird, as Phillips' Edwards keeps telling people that he's so many minutes away from them (it almost seems like there's 40 hours in a day), and it takes a little too long for the main characters to engage in a "race against time," but those really are just minor quibbles. Phillips, de Boer, and to a lesser extent Evigan make you forget about those small issues and keep you engaged in the story.

Phillips, as Edwards, does some of his best low budget movie work in years. You totally buy him as a scientist and as a single father trying to hold things together. His steady demeanor through a huge crisis like a magnetic tornado sucking up metal objects is inspiring. De Boer is excellent as Rebecca, Michael's girlfriend. She has excellent chemistry with Phillips and you totally buy her as a scientist, too. And Evigan just oozes sleaze as Kane. It's interesting how Evigan makes Kane just an asshole and not completely evil (he doesn't have henchmen try to kill Edwards before he can tell the world what's going on). He actually kind of helps Edwards fix the metal tornado part, something you just don't see in movies all that often.

Frank Schorpion's Greg character is kind of strange. He's stuck in the middle between trying to save the world from a metal tornado and trying to make sure Helios World doesn't go out of business. He doesn't start actually listening to Edwards until the middle of the movie, but he is sort of redeemed when he says that the company has an "ethical responsibility" not to destroy the world. You do wish he would come around to that conclusion earlier, but, hey, he does figure it out in the end. He's sort of like Charles Hallahan in Dante's Peak but he doesn't have to die.

The only character I didn't care for was Nick Edwards, Michael's son, as played by Stephen Macdonald. Nick is your typical jackass teen who hates school, his father, and is just above everything, all attributes that I find incredibly annoying in people, both real and fictional. I also found his knowledge of computer hacking to be off putting. I also kind of wish he died at the end. He doesn't, but I wish he did. I'm sorry, it's just the way I feel.

The movie's special effects are about as good as you can get in a low budget natural disaster movie. There are a few iffy moments, sure, but for the most part you can't complain about anything that you see. Even the space animation towards the start of the movie is pretty good. I do wish, though, there was a scene where the metal tornado rips up a grain silo or some other big metal structure, just so we can see giant metal pieces flying all around up close. Or a few cut in from Paris where we get to see giant pieces of the Eiffel Tower dissolving into the air. I mean, if you're going to destroy the Eiffel Tower lets goddamn see it.

All in all, Metal Tornado is a great low budget natural disaster movie. Just about everything in it works. It issues are small and are things that you can easily ignore. If you haven't seen this Lou Diamond Phillips led movie do yourself a favor and track it down or look for it on TV. It is well worth checking out.

See Metal Tornado. See it, see it, see it.

So what do we have here?

Dead bodies: Probably thousands. Paris is destroyed.

Explosions: A few.

Nudity?: None. It's a PG movie.

Doobage: A homemade metal tornado, off screen decapitation, low budget CGI satellites in space, a high school science class, a dipshit son, science talk, more CGI animation, an "unexpected fluctuation," multiple explosions, car alarms, an out of control chainsaw, dirt bike hooey, a compass goes wacko, a hot blonde biker chick, bad cell phone reception, metal soup can to the head, crumpled up paper throwing, flying chicken wire, killer tractor, flying farm implements, computer hacking, a sunny day, security camera footage, a random traffic stop, a crying woman, flying car, the destruction of Paris, France, a motorcycle that refuses to the start, panic, splint making, an eerie calm, falling debris, a destroyed church, a massive traffic jam, a military drone, and attacking a metal tornado.

Kim Richards?: Implied. Again, Paris is destroyed.

Gratuitous: Canadian Pennsylvania, Lou Diamond Phillips, a metal tornado, multiple bits of low budget CGI special effects, a gas station full of morons, bad cell phone reception, metal soup can to the head, Philadelphia, computer hacking, a random traffic stop, "we have an ethical responsibility!," a motorcycle that refuses to start, falling debris, a destroyed church, the destruction of Paris, France, a massive traffic jam, the Pentagon, lasagna, and a happy ending.

Best lines: "Stephen Winters. Why are you calling me?," "Sir, your hair," "Ron, thanks for all of the support," "We have an anomaly with the magnetic field!," "We have just witnessed the birth of unlimited clean energy," "The Helios Project is dangerous!," "Stan, there's something weird going on!," "It's like a mass possession of inanimate objects!," "We're all gonna die! We're not going to die," "You're making a huge mistake," "So, what if the magnetic field is still out there?," "So, just how illegal is this program?," "We may have created another potential disaster!," "Dad, this is getting scary," "I think I've got a problem," "We're caught in the magnetic field!," "We've created a monster!," and "So, you gonna marry her?"

Rating: 8.5/10.0


Next week: MAYhem continues with Super Cyclone (2012)!


The Gratuitous B-Movie Column: The Facebook Page!

Please check out The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Facebook page, which can be seen here. There's not much there at the moment, but, as time goes by, expect to see daily questions and musings and other B-movie hooey (this really is going to happen at some point). And it would be cool if you "liked" it, too.

The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Facebook page! Yeah!

And please check out my interview with director Brett A. Hart about the Ain't It Cool internet show and more!


Things to Watch Out For This Week: Part 1

- After the Dark: This is apparently some sort of low budget post apocalyptic deal where, after a nuclear disaster, a bunch of young people try to decide who among them gets to survive and reboot the human race. That's what the amazon description claims, anyway. I think it's interesting that the movie is about young people. I mean, how often do you see that in a post apocalyptic movie?

- Survival Code: This low budget sci-fi action flick from Canada looks freaking amazing. I think it's also cool how the main character, for no discernible reason, is an ex-MMA fighter. Why isn't he just ex-Special Forces? Has MMA become a new kind of "Special Forces" type thing?

- Axeman: I'm not sure why this low budget horror flick had its name shortened from Axeman at Cutter's Creek, which, to me, is a much cooler title than Axeman. But then, hey, Axeman is pretty cool, too. The great Tiffany Shepis is in this, as is Brinke Stevens. Definitely worth checking out.

- Who's Harry Crumb? 25th Anniversary Edition: I have no idea if this DVD is going to have any special features on it as its amazon page doesn't list any. The movie deserves a full on special edition. Perhaps Shout! Factory can get on that? Definitely one of John Candy's finest performances (we should have had several Harry Crumb adventures). Anyone else out there love this movie?


The Gratuitous B-Movie Column B-Movie Theme of the Week



TV Quick Hits

- Bad Teacher: The Series thoughts: I didn't get to see the second episode of this new CBS sitcom (freaking DVR decided not to record it) but I did see the pilot episode and, for the most part, I thought it was pretty good. It was funny and had a good cast (David Alan Grier is brilliant on the show as the principal) but I don't see how the general premise of the show is going to last beyond a few episodes. Yes, Ari Graynor's gold digging divorcee Meredith is looking for a rich husband and posing as a middle school teacher in order to do it made for a generally good pilot episode, but how many episodes can she actively do that before it becomes ridiculous? And with Grier, Sara Gilbert, and Kristin Davis in supporting roles, why keep them as supporting players? Wouldn't it make more sense to do a show that's sort of an ensemble deal, sort of like The Office or Modern Family, where the show is all about the middle school and the people who work there?

Oh, sure, we'll get all kinds of "B-stories" featuring Davis' uptight Taylor-Capp and whatever overachieving nonsense she wants to accomplish as the school's best teacher and Grier's Principal Carl Gaines trying not the cry every day, but the focus of the show will be all about Meredith's search for a rich husband. That just seems like a big mistake and a wasted opportunity. I bet the show could be turned into a full on ensemble show with little effort. Well, little effort creative wise; I bet CBS would want to renegotiate some financial deals, especially for Graynor as she would no longer be the star of the show.

And am I the only one who thought it was wrong for Meredith to show some heart in the pilot episode? Would she really stick up for the geeky kids or would she join in on the bullying? I mean, she charged her students a class fee and, well, she isn't a real teacher. She'll do anything to get what she wants. Why would she care about kids who are picked on in school, at least in the first episode?

Bad Teacher has potential. Will it end up morphing into an ensemble show? Will the network and the producers figure that out quickly or will it be too late?


The Gratuitous B-Movie Column B-Movie Babe of the Week: Nicole de Boer


Things to Watch Out For This Week: Part 2

- Savage Vengeance: The great Camille Keaton, of the original I Spit On Your Grave/Day of the Woman fame, stars in this low budget sort of remake of Grave. Directed by the equally great Donald Farmer, it was made in the late 1980's but, for whatever reason, wasn't released until 1993. I'm going to assume that the movie just ran out of money. I have no idea. While it doesn't have the greatest reputation, Savage Vengeance is worth checking out, anyway. I mean, check out the DVD case. Isn't that freaking awesome? And any movie that has a scene like the one below in it has to be worth seeing. Has to.

- Kidnapped Souls: The fine folks at Maverick Entertainment Group are releasing this low budget sort of slasher thriller, which doesn't look half bad. The bad guy with the disfigured white face mask looks pretty weird. Easily worth renting.

- Blood Shed: Is this a ghost movie or some sort of slasher movie? Whatever it actually is, I think it's pretty cool that someone has made a horror flick that takes place in a self storage facility. It just isn't something you see all that often.

- Rookie Blue Season 4: This great Canadian/American cop show is sort of like Grey's Anatomy but with cops. With season five set to start very soon (next month according to imdb), what better way to get caught up on what happened last season? It's not like ABC is going to rerun the entire season the weekend before season five starts up. The lovely Missy Peregrym deserves some sort of award for this show. She really does.

The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Douchebag of the Week


This week, The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Douchebag of the Week goes to John Boehner, Republican Congressperson from Ohio and Speaker of the House of Representatives, for announcing the creation of a special select committee to investigate the September 11th, 2012 Benghazi attack. Well, technically Boehner has set up a vote for the creation of a committee, but with Republicans in control of the House it's pretty much guaranteed to happen. Boehner is allegedly doing this to appease the teabagger faction in the Republican Party and get Republican voters excited about the mid-term election in November. The committee isn't going to find anything that the world doesn't already know, of course, but then the job of this Republican Congress is to waste time and money on complete bullshit. And that's what this Benghazi thing has always been. Bullshit.

And where are the fucking Democrats? Why are they, once again, cowering in the corner, terrified of speaking up and saying this is all bullshit? Are the Democrats scared of the teabaggers, too?


And then there's the ultra right wing media machine, for trying to make the Donald Sterling is a massive racist story into a story about black racism. It took the machine a little longer than usual to start whining about how black rappers can say the "N" word and the liberal media doesn't say anything, but then I'd imagine it was hard for the machine to digest the fact that Donald Sterling is a racist. There's just no denying it. So the machine decided to just go with the "everyone knew it before this came out" line and then started in with "the NBA has Drake doing stuff on TV for it and he uses the 'N' word and talks about bitches! Where's the condemnation of that?" I also wouldn't be surprised if someone on Fox News brought Al Sharpton into it somehow (he hates white people, the real victims here).

Wouldn't it be great if someone in the "liberal" media actually called out the URWMM on its bullshit? I mean, yeah, that would be partisan and an attack on Middle American social values and all that, but it would be nice anyway.

Jesus Christ.

Oh, and I also want to point out that Fox News, in its complete freak-out over Esquire magazine's tweet that Sterling would probably end up with a show on Fox News, should realize that Sean Hannity still has Mark Fuhrman occasionally on his show. If you still have Mark Fuhrman on your channel in any regular capacity it isn't a terrible leap of logic to think that a fellow racist douchebag couldn't eventually get his own show, probably on the weekend. It's what Fox does.

And finally there's Donald Sterling, for not going away immediately after it was revealed that he is a massive racist. It sounds like he's going to try to fight his lifetime NBA ban and the NBA forcing him to sell the L.A. Clippers, which he has every legal right to do, but, ultimately, what would be the point? The cat is out of the bag here, Don. Shit's over. There is absolutely no scenario where you actually "win" here. It would be best for everyone if you just stayed out of the public eye for a few years, sold the team quietly to whomever has the money, and then did something else. But that won't happen, will it? You're just going to drag this out.

Come on, Don. Do everyone a favor and just let it all go. Do it for the world, man.


NASCAR and Indycar thoughts

The NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Talladega sort of morphed into an okay race after a boring first part. The only real action in the first part of the race was Brad Keselowski's spin while trying to get in front of Danica Patrick. After that it was just sort of everyone running in place until the big accident, once again caused by Keselowski, that took out Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Matt Kenseth, and a few other people. The final segment of the race was good right up until the caution on the white flag lap that ended the race. Denny Hamlin, who hasn't done much of anything since Daytona, won the race. Greg Biffle was a surprise second.

There wasn't all that much action in the middle part of the race. It seemed like no one wanted to make a move. Several teams had engine issues, but that didn't lead to anything beyond a few guys blowing up. The Hendrick teams sure seemed worried about whether or not their engines would last the entire race.

A.J. Allmendinger did a great job and had another top ten finish. Paul Menard, who started second, had a great day and finished sixth. And Kyle Larson and Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. both had great days with top ten finishes. Where the heck did Larson come from? And Stenhouse, didn't he get clipped in one of the earlier wrecks? Where the heck did he come from? And Landon Cassill had a good day, running up front at the end and finishing 11th.

Kansas is up next for Sprint Cup. The series will be racing this Saturday night for the first time at Kansas under the lights. Will racing at night in Kansas improve the show or will it not matter at all?

Once again I missed the Nationwide race. Elliott Sadler won that one. I'm going to have to wait two weeks to try to see the next Nationwide race, which will be at Iowa on May 18th. That's a Sunday, the day after the Sprint Cup All-Star race. I will definitely see that goddamn thing.

Over in Indycar, "anticipation" is building for the Grand Prix of Indianapolis this coming Saturday. Most of the Indycar owners and drivers and the road racing nerds are all foaming their pants at the thought of this race. The new course layout is supposed to provide more passing areas and is allegedly faster than the old track. It'll be interesting to see what kind of crowd shows up for this event. If 50,000 show up I'll be surprised. The race is set to air on ABC on Saturday afternoon at 3:30 PM EST.

Kurt Busch revealed his sponsor and paint scheme for his Indy 500 attempt. Something called "Suretone" will be on the side pod. I think the silver painted car looks okay but I was kind of hoping he'd have something a little more "out there." Busch passed his Indy rookie test last week, so all of his future track time will be about gaining speed and knowing what to do when the car starts to go away on him (and it will once the tires get some laps on them). 1995 Indy 500 winner Jacques Villeneuve is also ready to go for the 500, too, as he passed his rookie orientation test alongside Busch. Based on a yahoo article I read both of them are going to have to gain speed quickly as the pole speed is expected to increase from last year (that's what Michael Andretti told Kurt Busch).

And it was also announced last week that Juan Pablo Montoya will compete in two NASCAR Sprint Cup races this year for Team Penske. Montoya will race at Michigan June 15th and then at Indianapolis for the Brickyard 400 in July. I'm surprised that Penske isn't adding Montoya to the two Sprint Cup road races, too (Indycar doesn't race on either of those weekends). Wouldn't it be awesome if Montoya won the Brickyard 400? Out of the two races he's set to run I think he can win Indy. He'll probably do okay at Michigan, but Indy? I think he can do it.

It's going to be quite the Saturday this Saturday. Indy road course in the afternoon, and then Sprint Cup under the lights at Kansas. And then the following weekend it'll be Charlotte, Iowa, and Indy 500 qualifying. Hopefully none of it sucks.


Well, I think that'll be about it for this issue. B-movies rule, always remember that.

If there's anything you want to see reviewed here in this column, feel free to offer a comment below or send me an e-mail. I'm always on the lookout for new stuff to watch.

And don't forget to sign up with disqus if you want to comment on this article and any other 411 article. You know you want to, so just go do it.

Metal Tornado

Lou Diamond Phillips- Michael Edwards
Nicole de Boer- Rebecca
Greg Evigan- Jonathan Kane
Stephen Macdonald- Nick Edwards
John Maclaren- Ron
Frank Schorpion- Greg
Jon McLaren- Shane
Sean Tucker- Sheriff Joe Riley
Todd Duckworth- Stephen Winters

Directed by Gordon Yang
Screenplay by Jason Bourque and Andrew C. Erin, based on a story by Travis Stevens and Gordon Yang

Distributed by Arc Entertainment

Rated PG for disaster action/peril and minor language
Runtime- 90 minutes


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