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TWISTER
(Two-Disc Special Edition)

"The Suck Zone". It's the point basically when the twister... sucks you up.
That's not the technical term for it, obviously…

Considering the plot of TWISTER ($21) is paper-thin and the characterizations are only slightly heavier, I’d have to say these two aspects of the film probably disappeared into the suck zone. Now despite the thinness of the plot and characters, TWISTER doesn’t pretend to be great cinema, nor does it have to be. TWISTER is a popcorn movie, plain and simple… and for my money it’s a great one. What I like about TWISTER is that it offers me an opportunity to shut down my brain and be carried off by some impressive CGI tornadoes, not to mention some loud sound effects.

TWISTER stars Helen Hunt as Jo Harding, a scientist/storm chaser who is trying to gather new information about tornadoes, in order to create a better early warning system against Mother Nature’s fury. Bill Paxton portrays Bill Harding, Jo’s estranged husband and former storm chaser, who tracks down Jo in the field to finalize their divorce. However, when a series of tornadoes start touching down, Bill decides to help his fellow storm chasers deploy a new piece of hardware to gather data on the inner workings of the weather phenomenon. Of course, getting in the path of one of the most destructive forces on the planet doesn’t sit well with Bill’s new fiancée Melissa (Jami Gertz). TWISTER also features a very minor subplot involving a group of corporate sponsored storm chasers, led by Dr. Jonas Miller (Cary Elwes), a rival scientist who is trying to beat Jo and Bill to critical data on the nature of tornadoes. Director Jan de Bont stages the action sequences with flourish, and as I stated above, the CGI tornadoes will blow one away. The cast of TWISTER also includes Lois Smith, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Alan Ruck, Sean Whalen, Scott Thomson, Todd Field and Joey Slotnick.

Warner Home Video has made TWISTER available on DVD in a 2.35:1 widescreen presentation that has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. This is a very good quality standard definition presentation. Image sharpness and detail are very good for the SD level; although there is some mild softness introduced by the mixing of live action and digital elements. Colors have a realistic level of saturation and flesh tones tend to be natural. Blacks appear on the money, plus contrast and shadow detail are fine. The film elements appear clean, but there is some graininess in places. Digital compression artifacts are usually well concealed, but not always.

As one should expect from any good disaster movie, TWISTER features a kick-ass Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack. The mix is very aggressive and highly active during the tornado sequences. Sound effects swirl, bounce, ping-pong and generally draw the viewer into the adrenalin rush. The rear channels are well deployed, intensifying the swirl. Dialogue reproduction is very clean and is rarely buried under any of the other sonic elements. The bass channel is deep and adds sufficient rumble. A French 5.1 channel track is also encoded onto the disc, as are English and French subtitles.

Music underscores the basic interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the supplemental materials, which have been spread across both discs of this set. Disc one features a running Audio Commentary with director Jan de Bont and special effects supervisor Stefan Fangmeier, plus some Theatrical Trailers. Moving on to disc two, one will find the remainder of the supplemental programming. Chasing the Storm: Twister Revisited is a new retrospective documentary running nearly thirty minutes. The Making Of Twister is a thirteen minute HBO First Look Special from the time of the film’s original release. Anatomy Of A Twister is pretty much more of the same and clocks in at eight minutes. Nature Tech: Tornadoes is a 2003 History Channel special on the fury of the real world natural phenomena and runs forty-three minutes. The Van Halen Music Video for the song Humans Being closes out disc two.

Despite being light on the plot and characters, I think TWISTER is a terrific mindless popcorn movie. Warner Home Video’s third DVD edition gets high marks.

 

TWISTER (TWO-DISC SPECIAL EDITION) 


Twister (Two-Disc Special Edition) (1996)

ENHANCED FOR 16:9 TELEVISIONS 

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DVD reviews are Copyright © 2008 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.


 

 

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