Twister: Special Edition (1996)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 5-Mar-2003

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Disaster Main Menu Audio & Animation
dts Trailer-Piano
Theatrical Trailer
Audio Commentary-Jan De Bont (Dir) & Stefan Fangmeier (Special FX Co-ord)
Featurette-Making Of
Featurette-Anatomy Of The Twister
Music Video-Humans Being-Van Halen
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1996
Running Time 108:26
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (48:29) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Jan De Bont

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Bill Paxton
Helen Hunt
Jami Gertz
Cary Elwes
Case ?
RPI $36.95 Music Mark Mancina

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English Audio Commentary
English Titling
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Twister, one of the original DVD 'demo discs', has been given the Special Edition treatment. Hang on, because this tense, nail-biting, special effects extravaganza will blow you (and your home theatre speakers) away! Be warned: whereas the original DVD shook your house, this disc will shake your entire neighbourhood!

    The story is pretty simple: Bill (Bill Paxton) was once married to Jo (Helen Hunt). Both driven by separate but compelling motives, they were tornado chasers. Bill has ended their stormy relationship, and separated from Jo. Bill wants to settle down and marry quiet therapist, Melissa (Jami Gertz). Along with a small team of merry men and women, Bill and Jo are once again united in Tornado Alley, Central USA, in an attempt to prevent the loss of life through the study of tornadoes. There is also a rival group of profit-driven scientists, led by Jonas (Cary Elwes), who Bill and Jo must compete with. Both teams have invented a tracking device that requires them to go suicidally close to a tornado to launch it - a deadly, and ultimately tragic, competition ensues.

    This movie has an immaculate pedigree. It is directed with the same frantic pace and sense of urgency as Speed by Jan De Bont, co-written and co-produced by Michael Crichton, and executive produced by Steven Spielberg. While there are a number of big name actors in this movie, the real stars are Industrial Light and Magic's digital tornadoes who literally rip the screen apart. With a tight (albeit flawed and cliché heavy) script, excellent pace, wonderful cinematography and editing, and brilliant stunts, visual and sound effects, this DVD demands to be in any home theatre collection.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality


    The R1 version of Twister SE was released in 2000 to replace the original 1997 DVD (which was a very early R1 DVD release). Three years had passed, and authoring and compression technology had advanced, and it was accepted that while the original DVD was considered by many to be a 'demo disc', it could be improved with a dual-layered disc, some more extras, and a DTS soundtrack. Also, despite the THX 'seal of approval', many complained of the MPEG artefacts and the excessive edge enhancement of the original R1 release.

    However, these problems did not plague the original R4 DVD. Indeed, the original R4 DVD has, as Michael D called it, a "sensational" transfer. A few years ago I purchased the R1 SE, never expecting it to appear in Australia. After all, our disc didn't need 'fixing'. Its arrival in R4 is a real bonus! Oh, and this transfer is "sensational" as well. Indeed, after comparing the two, I prefer our transfer. Apart from the innate superiority of PAL's resolution, and the lack of NTSC's 'pulldown effect', our transfer looks slightly sharper. Another three years have passed, this time between the release of the R1 SE and the R4 SE, and more advanced authoring techniques may be responsible. For example, consider the shot at 7:57, in the R1 SE, the character Melissa's teeth are smeared when she smiles, but in the R4 SE, her teeth are clearly defined.

    The transfer is presented in its original aspect ratio of  2.35:1. It is 16x9 enhanced.

    As with the original, the image is a little grainy at times. The sharpness is very good. There are a number of dark scenes in this movie, and the shadow detail and black level are excellent. For example, consider the detail in the shadowy scene at 72:12.

    The colour is well saturated, but as with the R1 SE, the skin tones appear to have a slightly burnt-orange tint.

    Brilliant DVD authoring manages to compress the awesome power of nature onto this RSDL disc without any MPEG artefacts. While there is occasionally an extremely slight shimmer on a few objects, such as window blinds, film-to-video artefacts, such as aliasing, are never a problem. I note that this shimmering seems to affect the R4 SE only. For example, the hay stack at 7:27, and on the hat worn by the character Dusty at 7:41. Film artefacts appear infrequently throughout, but they are tiny and unobtrusive.

    Very occasionally, there is the odd hint of edge enhancement.

    Only English subtitles are present on this DVD, and they are accurate. Interestingly, the movie's exposition titles are provided by a subtitle stream, as opposed to the R1 SE, which has the titles, such as "June 1969", 'burnt in' to the image.

    This is a RSDL disc, with an awkward layer change placed at 48:29.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


     Apart from the remastered image, for the SE DVDs in Region 1, Warners struck a new 20-bit digital master from the movie's original 6-track magnetic soundtrack master (compared to the 16-bit digital master used for the original R1 and R4 discs). However, sadly R4 consumers have been shafted again. The R1 Special Edition has DTS 5.1 encoded at a whopping 1509Kb/s, and Dolby Digital 5.1 encoded at 448Kb/s. The R4 has DTS 5.1 encoded at only 768Kb/s, and Dolby Digital 5.1 encoded at 384Kb/s. That said, this is still an awesome soundtrack, whether one listens to the Dolby Digital or DTS options. Personally, I much preferred the DTS audio, for its ability to seamless pan sounds around my home theatre, and provide a clarity and crispness when required that was beyond the Dolby Digital mix.

    The dialogue quality and audio sync are acceptable on the default English Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track, however the audio sync appeared slightly out for at least the first half of the movie. This also occurs on the R1 SE, and appears to be more noticeable with the DTS option. I will quickly add, however, that no one else I've shown this movie to has noticed this, so maybe it's just me.

    The musical score is credited to Mark Mancina, and it is suitably ominous or triumphant when required.

    The surround presence and activity is stunning. An immersive soundfield is created, while keeping the viewer firmly focussed on the screen. This is an extremely aggressive surround mix, and there are a great deal of rear directional effects, and panning from one speaker to another. Indeed, the rears are used effectively throughout for both the score, ambience, and sound effects.

    The subwoofer is also used very effectively throughout, and a nice touch is the guttural growl of the tornadoes, which gives them an almost 'monster-like' characteristic. This is perhaps one the the most LFE-heavy tracks that I've ever heard.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    While the original R4 DVD only had a trailer and cast/crew bios as extras, there are a few additions to the Special Edition. Unless stated otherwise, all extras are presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, with Dolby Digital stereo audio.


    An animated menu, presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, with Dolby Digital stereo audio.

Theatrical Trailer (1:59)

    Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, 16x9 enhanced, with Dolby Digital stereo audio.

Commentary by Jan De Bont and Stefen Fangmeier

    The movie's director and SFX co-ordinator provide an informative and chatty commentary.

The Making of Twister (13:52)


Anatomy of a Twister (8:32)

    ILM, and friends, discuss their attempt at realism through CGI.

Music Video

    Van Halen's video to Humans Being, a song that appears fleetingly in the movie.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    Twister SE was released on DVD in Region 1 in 2000. To recap my earlier comments, the image of the R4 SE is slightly sharper (barely noticeable), but the audio specs are inferior, and there is a very slight shimmer (aliasing) at times with the R4 transfer. The issues with graininess, skin-tones, audio-sync, and edge enhancement affect both versions.

    The Region 4 DVD misses out on:

    The Region 1 DVD misses out on:

    It's a close call, but I would have to favour the R1, for its superior specs. That 1509Kb/s DTS track creates an enveloping wall of sound that few discs can match, and for me, Twister SE is more of an aural, than visual experience.


    While some cynics might dismiss Twister as being merely a collection of SFX set-pieces strung together, as far as I'm concerned, it is a must-have in any DVD home theatre collection. If you have DTS capability, run, do not walk, to your nearest retailer and buy this disc! If, however, like me, you already own the R1 SE, then I wouldn't bother with the R4.

    The video quality is excellent.

    The audio is of reference quality.

    The extras are decent.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Brandon Robert Vogt (warning: bio hazard)
Monday, February 17, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-535, using S-Video output
DisplayGrundig Elegance 82-2101 (82cm, 16x9). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationSony STR DE-545
SpeakersSony SS-V315 x5; Sony SA-WMS315 subwoofer

Other Reviews
MovieHole - Clint M
AllZone4DVD - Wayne F
Web Wombat - James A - Darren R (read my bio (fun for the whole family))
The DVD Bits - Allan H
DVD Net - Gavin T
DVD Plaza - Anthony C (read my bio)

Comments (Add)
Dissapointed - Stimpy (da, what's a bio Ren?)
R1 Twister - Jace
Audio sync - Ryan Grove (biographically challenged.)
R4 was a huge dissapointment - Pendergast (Why not take a look at my bio, you might think it stinks.)
2 disk SE in R1 -