Max just got my favorite disaster thriller movie ever — and it’s the perfect watch before ‘Twisters’

Helen Hunt as Jo Harding and Bill Paxton as Bill Harding in 1996 "Twister" movie
(Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures, Universal Pictures)

As the anticipation builds for the release of the summer blockbuster "Twisters", there's no better time to revisit the classic that started it all. "Twister" has just landed on one of the best streaming services, offering a perfect opportunity to experience the truly thrilling story that set the standard for disaster movies. 

Being such a fan of this movie, I’m always happy to watch it again, and I’ll never get sick of it. There’s so much to enjoy, from the tornadoes tearing through lone buildings, to cows flying around, to trucks exploding on the road. It might sound random, but the chaotic action sequences will make sense when you watch it. 

And, my love for this movie grew even more when I first experienced the "Twister" ride in Orlando, Florida, which brought the intense and immersive storm scenes to life in a way I'll never forget. 

"Twister" will always be my favorite disaster thriller, and watching it can provide important context for the upcoming standalone sequel. Whether you're a long-time fan or a newcomer to the storm-chasing adventure, streaming "Twister" on Max is the ideal way to prepare for the new chapter in this world. So, if you're curious, here are all the details on this suspenseful disaster movie. 

What is ‘Twister’ about?

Twister (1996) | 4K Ultra HD Official Trailer | Warner Bros. Entertainment - YouTube Twister (1996) | 4K Ultra HD Official Trailer | Warner Bros. Entertainment - YouTube
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"Twister" is a classic disaster movie centered around a team of storm chasers led by Dr. Jo Harding (Helen Hunt) and her estranged husband, Bill Harding (Bill Paxton). The team aims to test a new weather research device during a severe tornado outbreak in Oklahoma. The device, called Dorothy, is designed to release sensors into a tornado to gather valuable data to improve the warning system. However, to successfully deploy this new device, the team needs to get dangerously close to the tornadoes they are chasing.

As you can imagine, the team encounters a series of increasingly powerful and destructive tornadoes. These sequences are marked by thrilling special effects, which were groundbreaking at the time of the movie’s release (but may not hold up as much now). It’s a truly thrilling movie that shows the intensity and unpredictability of tornadoes. 

The success of "Twister" back in 1996 helped popularize storm chasing and raised public awareness about the dangers of tornadoes. And now almost 30 years later, we have the standalone sequel “Twisters”, which focuses on a new group of storm chasers who want to test a revolutionary tracking system. Don’t worry though, because the “Twisters” trailer proves it’s nothing like the original (and that’s a good thing). 

‘Twister’ shows the terrifying power of nature

“Twister” is one of those movies that makes you appreciate nature, both for its beauty and dangers. This is my favorite disaster movie just because it captures the terrifying power of nature in such a realistic and intense way. The special effects are incredibly well-done for its time, making the tornadoes feel real and their destruction truly impactful (obviously they’re not the best quality effects ever). The high-stakes action scenes, like cars being tossed around and houses being ripped apart, keep me on the edge of my seat every time I watch it. 

What really draws me in, though, is the human element. Following Jo and Bill's journey, their passion for storm chasing, and their personal struggles makes me genuinely care about their mission and their safety. It’s not often we see a character’s personal development in a disaster movie since many genre efforts are solely focused on pure destruction and mayhem. In this case, there’s a deeper romance caught up in the wind. 

So, I can safely say that “Twister” has everything you need for an exciting action thriller. While it might not be totally realistic in certain scenes (especially when Jo and Bill are so close to the tornado and somehow don’t get sucked up), it still remains a summer crowd-pleaser. 

The Rotten Tomatoes rating should be higher

Helen Hunt as Jo Harding and Bill Paxton as Bill Harding in 1996 "Twister" movie

(Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures, Universal, Paramount)

The Rotten Tomatoes score for "Twister" should be higher because the movie excels in multiple aspects that make it a standout in the disaster movie genre. Of course, every critic has their own opinion, but this movie deserves so much more love. And while the 63% rating isn’t exactly bad, it doesn’t truly do this disaster flick justice. 

But, a Rotten Tomatoes score shouldn't always be the defining factor of whether something is worth a watch. 

As mentioned before, I believe “Twister” successfully combines thrilling action with a compelling human drama. The relationship between Jo and Bill adds depth to what would be an otherwise simple story, making us emotionally invested in their journey. Their mission to improve tornado warning systems through the deployment of the Dorothy device actually gives the narrative a meaningful purpose (rather than just aimlessly chasing tornadoes the whole movie). 

However, despite my love for this disaster film, I have to agree with some critical reviews just for the sake of being honest. And those mainly revolve around moments of poor script writing that tell you exactly what’s going on rather than show it. Some effects are predictable and clichéd too, but for a 1996 movie, they’re easy to put up with when you’re so engrossed in the action. 

Stream this movie before ‘Twisters’

It's definitely worth streaming "Twister" before the highly anticipated "Twisters" comes out on July 19 to fully appreciate the legacy and impact of the original. "Twister" set a high bar for disaster flicks, and watching it can provide context for the new movie and enhance your overall viewing experience by exploring the roots of the story and characters.

I know that I’ll be watching "Twister" again for a nostalgic trip back to a classic '90s blockbuster. It’s a good reminder of the excitement and suspense that made the original a beloved hit. 

Stream “Twister” on Max now, and once you’ve done that, check out the best disaster movies currently on Netflix

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Alix Blackburn
Staff Writer, Streaming

Alix is a Streaming Writer at Tom’s Guide, which basically means watching the best movies and TV shows and then writing about them. Previously, she worked as a freelance writer for Screen Rant and Bough Digital, both of which sparked her interest in the entertainment industry. When she’s not writing about the latest movies and TV shows, she’s either playing horror video games on her PC or working on her first novel.