This review is sponsored by

Details At A Glance

Category Action Theatrical Trailer(s) Yes, 1
Rating Other Trailer(s) Yes, 1
Year Released 1996 Commentary Tracks None
Running Time 108:26 minutes Other Extras Cast & Crew Biographies
RSDL/Flipper RSDL (48:30)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Movie
Region 2,4 Director Jan De Bont

Columbia Tristar
Starring Helen Hunt
Bill Paxton
Jami Gertz
Cary Elwes
Case Transparent Amaray
RRP $34.95 Music Mark Mancina

Pan & Scan/Full Frame None MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Dolby Digital 5.1
16x9 Enhancement Yes Soundtrack Languages
Region 4
English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Soundtrack Languages
Region 2
English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
German (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Italian (Dolby Digital 5.1)
French (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
Macrovision Yes
Region 4
English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking No
Region 2
English for the Hearing Impaired

Plot Synopsis

    Twister is a special effects extravaganza. Bill (Bill Paxton) and Jo (Helen Hunt) chase tornadoes around the United States in an attempt to study their characteristics, to try and develop better methods of predicting tornadoes. They are accompanied by a bunch of wise-cracking colleagues. For some reason, I fail to be convinced that meteorologists can have such way-out personalities.

    For some unknown and unnecessary reason, a love triangle is thrown into the plot. You see, Bill and Jo were married, but now they are in the process of divorcing because Bill wants to marry Melissa (Jami Gertz). Inexplicably, the three of them go chasing tornadoes together. Melissa doesn't like this.

    For another unknown and unnecessary reason, a bad guy, complete with an entourage of sinister black vans that drive really close together, is also thrown into the plot. Jonas (Cary Elwes) has "sold out to the media" and is also chasing tornadoes, but for profit, not for science.

    Fortunately, the human story takes up little screen time, with the majority of the movie dedicated to the special effects. The special effects are sensational! Your home theatre will be assaulted like it never has been assaulted before by this disc!

Transfer Quality


    Warner Advanced Media Operations were responsible for the compression of this disc, for both the NTSC and the PAL versions of this disc. The disc was released under the Warner Home Video label in Region 1, but has been released under the Universal label elsewhere in the world.

    This is a sensational transfer.

    The transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 2.35:1. It is 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer was razor sharp and crystal clear throughout. Shadow detail was excellent, and there was no low level noise to speak of. The only minor criticism I will make of this transfer is that very occasionally, under conditions of extreme stress, there is just a hit of graininess about the transfer, such as during the opening sequence. This disc has been encoded with a very high bit-rate. The first layer is encoded in the 9.0 to 10.0 Megabits/second range, and the second layer is encoded in the 8.0 to 9.0 Megabits/second range. The opening sequence in particular, is a DVD compression torture test, and this disc nearly handles it flawlessly.

    The colours were vivid and well saturated at all times.

    There were no MPEG artefacts seen, other than the hints of graininess mentioned previously, and some very slight motion blur at times. Film-to-video artefacts went unnoticed. Film artefacts were essentially non-existent, though there was an odd-looking defect at 2:28 which may have been some sort of reflected light in the camera lens.

    This disc is an RSDL disc. The layer change takes place at 48:30, which is during Chapter 15. This layer change is minimally disruptive.

    English for the Hearing Impaired are the only subtitles present on this disc. The packaging incorrectly states that there are English, Portuguese, Danish, Finnish, Swedish, Norwegian, Dutch, Polish and Czech subtitles on this disc. They are not present. Subtitles must be selected from the main menu. They cannot be activated whilst the movie is playing. This is very irritating.
[Addendum 16-June-1999: The subtitles that are available for selection from the main menu are dependent upon the region code that your DVD player is set to. If your DVD player is set to Region 4, then the only subtitle selection that is available to you is English for the Hearing Impaired. If your DVD player is set to Region 2, then all of the above subtitle selections become available.]
[Addendum 16-August-1999: Columbia Tristar have reprinted the slick for Twister. It now indicates that only English subtitles and soundtrack are present on the disc. The disc, however, is still the same disc, with the same selection of subtitles and audio languages when the player is set to region 2 as it had previously.]


    This is a reference-quality soundtrack, and is the best, most aggressively enveloping 5.1 mix I have ever heard.

    There is only one audio track on this DVD - English Dolby Digital 5.1. The packaging incorrectly states that there are also French, German, Italian and Spanish 5.1 soundtracks on this disc. They are not present.
[Addendum 16-June-1999: The audio tracks that are available for selection from the main menu are dependent upon the region code that your DVD player is set to. If your DVD player is set to Region 4, then the only audio selection that is available to you is English Dolby Digital 5.1. If your DVD player is set to Region 2, then all of the above audio selections become available. As is the case with the subtitles, you cannot change your audio selection on the fly, but must change this from the menu which is quite an irritation, though not as irritating as not having subtitles available on-the-fly.]

    Dialogue was always reasonably clear and easy to understand, even during scenes with very high ambient noise. This is an excellent feature of this soundtrack - by its very nature, there is a lot of sound present most of the time, but dialogue is always readily made out.

    There were no audio sync problems.

    The score by Mark Mancina is nearly omnipresent, and attempts to create a sense of drama, sometimes to the extent of sounding silly.

    The surround channels had a massive workout during the nearly omnipresent storms and tornadoes, with extremely aggressive use of the surrounds, including some very highly directional cues utilizing split surround effects. You are extremely effectively placed in the centre of the storm action by the soundtrack. This is tremendously exciting, as the soundtrack creates a very convincing impression of the storm swirling all around you. Indeed, it is almost unnerving in its closeness to reality! You frequently feel as if you are about to be lifted into the air! Even when the action sequences were not in full swing, the surrounds were effectively used for background ambience, and to create an excellent sense of foreboding whilst storms were building up. During these build-ups, you have an almost irresistible urge to hang on to your chair. This soundtrack is a superb example of how to effectively use split surround to envelop the listener in the movie.

    The .1 channel received lots of signal from the soundtrack, being continuously in use during the storm sequences. It was marvellously integrated into the overall soundtrack.


    Only limited extras are present on this disc. Prior to the start of the movie, you are able to watch a Universal DVD promo. Fortunately, this can be readily skipped, even though it is actually quite a good teaser trailer.

What's Missing / What's Extra

    The Region 1 version of this disc has a Pan & Scan version of the movie as well as the widescreen version. However, given that our version is RSDL, it is probable that the picture quality of our version will be better than the Region 1 version, especially since it seems as if both layers have been maximally used.
[Addendum 11th August 2000: A special edition of Twister has been released in Region 1 which includes an Audio Commentary, some featurettes, and both Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 audio on an RSDL disc. This is now the version of choice.]


    The menu design is unusually colourful, and appears to tried to develop an international flavour by the use of icons for almost everything. This only leads to irritation when using the cryptic menu system. In a nutshell, the menus are dreadfully hard to navigate. Hopefully this is a one-off aberration. Also, not all scenes can be accessed from the scene selection menu, in much the same way as early Warners discs.

Theatrical Trailer

    This is presented at an aspect ratio of 1:78:1, non-16x9 enhanced, with Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded sound. The trailer is excellent.

Cast & Crew Biographies

    These are quite limited.


    The real star of Twister is the thrill-ride tornado special effects. Fortunately, these are frequently on-screen, and the inane and unnecessary sub-plots are frequently off-screen, so the movie is very enjoyable overall.

    The video quality is superb with only trivial faults.

    The audio quality is superb, and is of reference quality. This disc just screams "demo", and it would also be a superb demonstration of the difference between Prologic and 5.1 audio because of the incredible use of the split surrounds.

    The extras are pretty basic.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Michael Demtschyna
11th June 1999
Amended 16th June 1999
Amended 16th August 1999
Amended 11th August 2000

Review Equipment
DVD Pioneer DV-505, using S-Video output
Display Loewe Art-95 95cm direct view CRT in 16:9 mode, via the S-Video input. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Denon AVD-2000 Dolby Digital AddOn Decoder, used as a standalone processor. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Amplification 2 x EA Playmaster 100W per channel stereo amplifiers for Left, Right, Left Rear and Right Rear; Philips 360 50W per channel stereo amplifier for Centre and Subwoofer
Speakers Philips S2000 speakers for Left, Right; Polk Audio CS-100 Centre Speaker; Apex AS-123 speakers for Left Rear and Right Rear; Yamaha B100-115SE subwoofer