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DVD Review: Twister (Two-Disc Special Edition)

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Twister is now one of my favorite pointless movies of all time. The plot is non-existent and the characters have absolutely no substance, but it doesn't matter. The picture and sound on Warner Brothers' recently released two-disc special edition will rock your home theater. As any DVD collector knows, you have to have a few titles in your collection used for the sole purpose of showing off your system. Trust me, Twister will impress everyone!

In the film, Bill and Jo Harding (Bill Paxton and Helen Hunt) are husband and wife meteorologists who are leading a group of storm chasers following any and all tornadoes they can find in Oklahoma and Kansas. However, the couple is in the process of getting a divorce. Bill has only tagged along on this particular expedition so he can get his wife to sign the final papers, which would allow him to marry his fiancée, Dr. Melissa Reeves (Jami Gertz).

twister.jpgThe team hopes to gather enough information to create an early-warning system for tornadoes that will prevent deaths like that of Jo's father. Following the team around is another scientist named Dr. Jonas Miller (Cary Elwes) and his team of corporate-funded scientists. Miller and his crew even drive around in threatening looking black vans. Again, all this plot stuff is just filler. Pay attention to the great sound and computer graphics. Watch the cows fly by!

The supporting cast of Twister is pretty impressive. Philip Seymour Hoffman is great as Dustin Davis, one of Jo's over-the-top, gung ho assistants. Alan Ruck is another of Jo's team who's hard to miss; and Sean Whalen, Todd Field, and Joey Slotnick all stand out as actors who bring more life to their parts than Hunt and Paxton.

Perhaps realizing that he didn't have much of a story to work with, director Jan De Bont keeps the film moving faster than a tornado. The film is a constant feast to the eyes and ears. There is always an alarming sound or an animal or a house whizzing by to keep the viewer's mind off the sluggish story.

Twister is notable in multimedia history for being the first film ever released on DVD in 1996 and the last to be released on HD-DVD. This two-disc special edition marks the third time Warner Brothers has released the film on standard-definition DVD and it looks great. The picture is very clean and vivid.

The audio is where this edition of Twister really shines. The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio is excellent. Channel localization is good, transient response is fast and clear, voices are natural, and the bass is prodigious. For regular Dolby Digital 5.1, it doesn't get much better than this for demonstration material to amaze family and friends.

The Twister two-disc special edition comes with several special features. Some have been released on previous versions while others are new. Disc one contains an audio commentary with director Jan de Bont and visual effects supervisor Stefen Fangmeier that was included in earlier editions. Also included are two theatrical trailers, English and French spoken languages, English and French subtitles, and English captions for the hearing impaired.

Disc two holds most of the special features. First is a new documentary, "Chasing the Storm: Twister Revisited," that includes comments from the director, star Bill Paxton, and several of the filmmakers today. The featurette "The Making of Twister" helps to explain the creative process behind the film; "Anatomy of a Twister," gives some further information on the film. Then there is a forty-five-minute History Channel documentary on twisters, Nature Tech: Tornadoes; followed by a music video, "Humans Being," with Van Halen; and, finally, a video game promo for a race-and-crash simulation called "Flat-Out: Ultimate Carnage."

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