Panavision - 2.35:1
2.24:1 - 16:9 - 1.37:1
Written by: Michael Crichton & Anne-Marie Martin
Directed by: Jan De Bont
Starring: Helen Hunt, Bill Paxton, Jami Gertz, Cary Elwes, Lois Smith, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Alan Ruck
I remember last year that Twister was being touted as a film we should never expect to see on DVD due to the amounts of movement and the detail present in the tornado sequences. Well, I'm pleased to say that really wasn't the case, and Warner Bros. released Twister in their first batch of DVD titles. Just in case you've been hiding in the woods for the past couple of years, Twister is about a group of storm chasers who hunt down tornados. The films features some terrific tornado effects sequences and Helen Hunt intermixed amongst all the contrived narrative. The film is a no-brainer, but it's loads of fun and the effects scenes are definitely worth the price of admission.
Warner Bros.' DVD contains both widescreen and standard versions of Twister, each presented on its own side of the disc. Twister was filmed in anamorphic Panavision, and shown theatrically at a 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The letterboxed version (which is also enhanced for 16:9 widescreen TVs) duplicates this framing with an approximate 2.24:1 aspect ratio, while the standard version is a cropped, pan & scan presentation. Both versions were transferred under auspices of the THX Digital Mastering Program (and a THX trailer appears before each version). Overall, the transfer for the letterboxed version looks great. The picture is sharp, and the colors are accurate. Some minor artifacts did appear here and there, especially during the opening scenes (such as the cloudy "title" sequence), but they were not at all bothersome since they were generally close to unnoticeable on my player and setup. In fact, some of the sections that I was sure would be problematic - in other words, the actual tornado sequences - looked wonderful. I consider myself to be overly picky at times with regard to transfer quality, but I had no qualms while watching this DVD (by the way, if you've only seen scenes from Twister on the store demo discs, the actual DVD release looks much better). In comparison, the standard version of Twister is unwatchable - not because of any transfer-related problems, but because of the dreadful cropping that was done to it. Approximately 40% of the original image is lost due to the cropping, and the film features some of the most drastic panning & scanning moves I've seen in a long time. All the artistic integrity of the director's original vision is lost - shots spread out across the wide screen are now close-ups, and the former close-ups become incomprehensible extreme close-ups. If you insist upon watching the standard version, you are really missing out on everything the film has to offer. For such a blown-up image, the image transfer for the standard version is still very good, although some scenes seem a little grainer in places and the same artifacts are present.
Each version of Twister also features an outstanding audio transfer. The DVD contains both English and French language 6-channel Dolby Digital 5.1 surround stereo soundtracks. The soundtracks have an extremely powerful mix, and the tornado is brought full-strength into your living room. The French soundtrack did seem minutely "brighter" than the English, no doubt due to the slight difference in the mix necessitated by the dubbing. The audio can be switched with your remote or through the menu selections.
Twister is accompanied by English, French or Spanish subtitles, all of which can also be changed with your remote or through the menu selections. This DVD is also closed-caption encoded.
The interactive menu functions on the disc are identical for both movie versions. "Jump to a Scene" allows for a selection of 9 scenes you can access by picture or description, in addition to a "start movie" and "end credits" button. Next up is "The Cast," which features two-page biographies and film highlights for stars Helen Hunt, Bill Paxton, Jami Gertz, Cary Elwes and director Jan De Bont. There is a selection for the original theatrical trailer, the one which is completely black and features quick flashes of scenes. This 2m03s trailer is letterboxed at 1.71:1 on the widescreen side, is cropped on the standard side, and features a shot of a giant truck tire flying towards the viewer's face that wasn't in the final cut of the film. Although the trailer sounds great (it's in surround stereo), the print is a bit grainy and dirty. "Film Flash" recommends that you watch Executive Decision, Outbreak, Poltergeist or The Wizard of Oz if you've enjoyed your Twister viewing experience. Finally, you are presented with menu selections to change the language and subtitle options.
The Twister DVD is encoded for Region 1 players only (U.S., U.S. Territories, Canada), and is packaged in Warner's standard plastic and cardboard "keep case." The inside flap contains a full listing for all 34 chapters, and the packaging includes a two-sided insert card with "DVD Care Tips" and a "Regional Coding" world map.
Review by Jeff Krispow
Original Review: 05/20/97
Last Updated: 08/22/97