RECORDED DELIVERY

A critical guide to the week's videos
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Indy Lifestyle Online
In last summer's battle of the blockbusters, Twister (PG) (above) CIC, 21 Mar, was notable for the fact that, though it had brash and bold special effects in common with Independence Day and Mission: Impossible, it managed to dispense with any story (however ludicrous) and/or the services of a big star. Between them Speed director Jan de Bont and Jurassic Park writer Michael Crichton literally lost the plot, but made sure that their equally disposable actors couldn't compete with the temperamental leads: computer-generated tornadoes. An ex-storm-chaser (Bill Paxton) visits his soon-to-be ex-wife (Helen Hunt) to collect the divorce papers, as she and his ex-colleagues plan another scientific research trip in the path of a twister. He gets caught up in it - the thrill of the chase rather than the vortex - and soon they're all, with the exception of Bill's wailing new fiancee, united in a rather repetitive race round the countryside to catch the big one.

The effects are dazzling, and get more and more, ahem, overblown, as the film progresses. But, if you've seen one tornado, you've seen them all, which makes it unable to generate the usual disaster-movie suspense thrills. If you like 'em big and brash, you'll probably have seen the effects in their natural big-screen home. And there's not long to wait before this year's glut of man-versus-nature films, such as Dante's Peak, explode/flood/erupt at a multiplex near you.

Top-notch acting and narratives are available elsewhere for rental this week. Sean Penn's second directorial feature The Crossing Guard (15) Hollywood, 17 Mar, includes a fine performance by Jack Nicholson as a vengeful father hunting the drunk-driver who killed his daughter, and Marleen Gorris's Oscar-winning Antonia's Line (15) Fox Guild, 17 Mar, is a quirky, feel-good tale of Dutch womanhood which doen't descend into sentimentality. Less appealing is The Great White Hype (15) Fox Guild, 17 Mar, a dreadful attempt at a satire on American boxing which, not least for the pain inflicted on the audience at the sight of a white-wigged Samuel L Jackson, should have been stopped in the first round. Also available to rent or buy for the kids is the wonderfully surreal, stop-motion animated version of Roald Dahl's James and the Giant Peach (U) Fox Guild, pounds 14.99, 17 Mar.

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