Twister – DVD Review

Twister
Available at Amazon.com

Can you really make a summer blockbuster without a superhero or supervillain in it? Better yet, without even a main antagonist? Well if you make a film that was written and directed by people that have created blockbusters before, and it’s the 1990s, the answer to those questions would be “yes”. Twister is not your typical summer blockbuster, but it still was back in 1996. Now over 10 years later it still has made a mark on movie and DVD history.

In Twister, Helen Hunt stars as Dr. Jo Harding, who leads a team of tornado chasers on a day that promises extreme storms, and even maybe a chart-topping F5 twister. This day destined to rewrite the science books also happens to be the day Jo’s husband and former tornado-chasing partner Bill Harding (Bill Paxton) shows up with two unwelcome items: his therapist fiance (Jami Gertz) and a set of divorce papers. Soon his duties shift from divorcing Jo to helping her with record -breaking technology to create a better warning system.

Even though Twister was written by legendary Michael Crichton and his wife, the plot is still relatively thin. They try to force the drama too much with some unneeded subplots like the competition between the two “storm chaser” teams. Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton have okay chemistry together, but it’s still a little hard to believe them as a couple. Surprisingly, the supporting cast is strong and easily recognizable with Philip Seymour Hoffman leading the way. The wacky supporting characters are somewhat interesting, but that is besides the point.

The real story and main character is the tornado. This is a CGI-heavy movie, but it still holds up well even after more than 10 years. The special effects are amazing and will be the only reason who should watch this film. Director Jan de Bont of Speed fame keeps the pace of the film fast and almost creates a roller coaster ride experience. That is one of the main positives of Twister.

Twister is known for its special effects. It’s not the greatest film ever. In fact, everything about this movie, from the acting to the plot, is average at best, except for two things: sound and picture. So if you just sit back and enjoy the ride, and don’t think too much about it, you will be entertained by Twister.

The video is given in 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen color, which is enhanced for 16:9 TVs. The video is still top-notch. It is one of the best things about this film. But the picture appears to have only been slightly remastered for this “special edition” version. So that’s a slight disappointment.

The audio included is available in either English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround sound or French Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround sound. There are English SDH subtitles available as well. The dialogue ad music come out loud and clear, and like the video this is one of the better things about this film.

Audio Commentary
This is a full-length commentary with the director, Jan De Bont, and Visual Effects Supervisor, Stefen Fangmeier. It is pretty informative, but it would have been nice to see some of the actors involved in this. This is the same commentary track found on the previous DVD edition of this film.

“Chasing the Storm: Twister Revisited” Featurette
This runs 29 minutes and it’s a new featurette that includes new comments from the director, Bill Paxton, and several other people behind the film as they talk about the film today. It’s pretty interesting and a good addition to the DVD.

“Nature Tech: Tornadoes Anatomy of a Twister” Documentary
This runs 8 minutes and it’s a documentary from The HISTORY Channel all about how a twister develops. Really it’s everything you want to know about tornadoes in real life. It’s short, but informative.

“The Making of Twister” Featurette
This runs 13 minutes and it’s a HBO First Look production. It talks more about the creative processes behind the film. This can also be found on the first edition of this film.

“Human Beings” by Van Halen Music Video
Just a standard music video from one of the songs in the film.

If you own any other edition of Twister, it’s probably not worth it to buy it again for a slightly remastered picture and only a couple of new featurettes. If you don’t own this movie yet, this is probably the version to get if you are a fan of the film. But I wouldn’t recommend a purchase for casual fans. If you haven’t seen the film, though, it’s worth a rental but I wouldn’t go as far as recommended a purchase.

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Warner Home Video presents Twister. Directed by Jan de Bont. Written by Michael Crichton and Anne-Marie Martin. Starring Bill Paxton, Helen Hunt, Cary Elwes, Jami Gertz, and Philip Seymour Hoffman. Running time: 113 minutes. Rated PG-13. Released on DVD: May 6, 2008. Available at Amazon.com

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