Twister is everything that’s right with summer blockbusters. It’s loaded with comedy, likeable characters, and enough “smart” dialogue to let the audience feel like they’re learning something. The action is intense, and the special effects are classic. There’s hardly anything to complain about in this Jan de Bont weather epic.
Twister wastes no time in getting started. It’s barely 30 minutes into the film when the audience is granted the first glimpse of a tornado. The special effects, while slowly becoming dated as years pass, are still an incredible achievement for the sense of danger they bring to the screen.
The script, with partial credit to Michael Crichton, is filled with a few too many characters. Juggling a double romance in addition to the science is difficult enough. Adding in a rival storm chaser team led by Cary Elwes is one set of characters too many.
Much of the dialogue is purely explanatory. The sequence in which Bill Paxton is explaining the tornado-tracking machine, dubbed Dorothy, to his new bride Jami Gertz is aimed more at the audience than the character. It’s appropriate summer-movie set-up, and the routine of laughs to follow (especially from Philip Seymour Hoffman) are all in line with this spectacle.
By continuing to put the audience in the middle of the danger, aided by a fantastic soundtrack handled by Mark Mancina, the film never loses its energy. Realistic or not, it’s hard not to feel the tension when the main characters are swept up in the wind of their next tornado chase.
Twister is quintessential popcorn movie entertainment. It’s right up there with other brain-dead, wholly entertaining pieces such as Independence Day in terms of its spectacle and bang for the buck. High art or not, this is one of the best of the mega budget ‘90s effects pieces. [xrr rating=5/5 label=Movie]
In HD, the film isn’t everything it should have beem. This is a mildly impressive presentation, sharp with significantly improved color over the DVD. It’s not perfect though, with flesh tones that waver into shades of pink and shots with flat detail. The latter is caused by significant DNR, giving the entire movie an artifical feel. That said, black levels are rich, creating a bold contrast in many scenes, but it’s not enough to forgive the tampering. [xrr rating=3/5 label=Video]
Like its DVD counterpart, the audio mix here is a format showcase. The Oscar-nominated sound whips by the viewer in countless numbers of scenes. Deep rumbling bass shakes the room as the tornadoes approach. Debris is flung from speaker to speaker as needed. This TrueHD master is a treat for audio fanatics. [xrr rating=5/5 label=Audio]
Extras are brought over from the recently released special edition DVD. Bont and effects supervisor Stefen Fangmeier deliver a commentary on their experiences with the film. Chasing the Storm is the best of the making-of features here. It’s detailed and in-depth without an overbearing promotional tone. Making of Twister is a blatantly commercial piece, as is Anatomy of a Twister. The latter two last about 22 minutes combined.
Nature Tech is a 45-minute documentary on tornadoes, made for the History Channel. Obviously, given the network it aired, it’s in-depth on the topic, though offers nothing on the film itself. A music video and some trailers wrap up this special edition. [xrr rating=3/5 label=Extras]