Twister (Steelbook, Ultra HD 4K Blu-ray)

Two storm chasers on the brink of divorce must work together to create an advanced weather alert system by putting themselves in the cross-hairs of extremely violent tornadoes.

July 5, 2024 8 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

For those that remember the Summer of 1996 (and I’m guessing that it should be just about everyone) there were a few great movies that really raked in the cash. Starting off the summer movie season was Twister, not exactly an event movie but one that made waves at the box office. The real star of the show was the special effects, of course, but leads Bill Paxton and then “future” Oscar-winner Helen Hunt had the human element under control. The other big movie in that summer was, of course, Independence Day in which aliens started destroying all of our landmarks (notably The White House, Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty). So years ago destroying things was en vogue and it seems that not much has changed since then. Even though plenty of time has passed, Twister still stands as one of the best examples of audio in a movie (and later, in disc form).

We meet Jo (Helen Hunt) in her childhood as he watches his father killed by a class 5 tornado. Flash forward to the present and now she’s a storm chaser, hard at work on developing an early-warning system for the National Weather Service. Her estranged ex-husband, Bill (Bill Paxton) is now set to marry Melissa Reeves (Jami Gertz). All of this takes a backseat, however, when the storm season gets underway. The three are unwillingly thrown together and must work together to not only get “Dorothy” (the early-warning system) online, but see if Jo and Bill can work out their differences as well. The rag tag crew adds some comic relief to the story and includes Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Alan Ruck. Lest we forget, the “bad guy” is played by Carey Elwes, a man with similar interests like Bill but with corporate funding.

Let’s face it, Twister is all about having a good time. I spent several years in Kansas and have actually never seen a tornado, but they’re out there and I can only imagine that, next to being in one, Twister is about as real as it gets short of being out there. Audiophiles have long held the movie as one of the crowning achievements from a technical perspective and this new edition sets the bar, once again – even higher.

Video: How does it look?

The film is noted for its audio, but viewers will certainly not be disappointed in the way this looks. Plenty of darker, earthy tones are present. For every movie that’s got crystal blue skies, this one serves as their antithesis with dark, brooding clouds and giving us – as the tagline would suggest – the “darker side of nature.” The new 4K HEVC 2.39:1 image delivers giving us more detail, increased color depth and a more cinematic appearance. There’s not a night and day difference between this and the previously-released Blu-ray, but doing an A/B comparison – it’s there. Director Jan de Bont, long known for his work as a cinematographer, has crafted a fine-looking film that’s looked the best it ever has. And, yes, this version has been “tweaked” a bit by Director Jan de Bont. Honestly, I don’t know why people get so worked up over such little things.

Audio: How does it sound?

When it comes to audio, there are a few movies that simply stand out on that front. Twister is, and has been since its release on DVD, one of them and it might be the best-sounding film I’ve ever heard. Truthfully, if you’re going to try and impress your friends with how good your system sounds, put this disc in. Any scene. It doesn’t matter. They’ll be, wait for it…blown away. The film has seen a Dolby Digital 5.1 release, a Dolby TrueHD track and now a full-fleged Dolby Atmos track. The sounds that the “Mother Nature” are capable of in this movie is enough to heighten the mood. There’s an almost organic feel to some of the scenes. Vocals, as expected, are sharp and crisp. This might also be the movie that uses the LFE to their best extent. Let’s face it, I can prattle on about how good this sounds or just know that when watching this one – it’s worth its weight in gold.

Supplements: What are the extras?

  • Audio Commentaryy – Director Jan de Bont and visual effects supervisor Stefen Fangmeier collaborate on this track. There’s nothing new here and it’s the same track we’ve had for decades, but if you’ve never given it a listen, no time like the present.
  • The Legacy of Twister – Taken by the Wind – The lone new supplement comes in the form of a 15 minute featurette with Director Jan de Bont. He discusses the long-lasting appeal of the film as well as addresses the audio and video for this new 4K version.
  • Chasing the Storm: Twister Revisited – This is a 30 minute “retrospective” that takes a look back at the film and even focuses on casting, creating the disaster and so forth.
  • Anatomy of a Twister – If you’re looking for some scientific feature that tells us how twisters form, look elsewhere. This serves as more of a glorified trailer with some snippets and scenes from the movie.
  • The Making of Twister – Pretty much that. Given that the other features say the same thing, this feels a bit redundant but better to have than not.
  • Music Video – “Humans Being” by Van Halen. 

The Bottom Line

Twister didn’t win any awards for acting or screenwriting, but you know what – who cares? It’s fun. It’s fun to watch, it’s fun to listen to. Just crank it up to an 11 and be prepared to be blown away. The new 4K disc looks amazing and sounds even better. The addition of a new supplement only sweetens the deal. Any audiophile needs to have this on his or her, OK his, shelf.

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