United States: 1996
Original title : –
Directed by: Jan de Bont
Screenplay: Michael Crichton, Anne-Marie Martin
Actors: Helen Hunt, Bill Paxton, Cary Elwes
Publisher: ESC Editions
Genre: Disaster movie
Cinema release date: August 21, 1996
DVD/BR release date: April 20, 2022
Jo Harding was still just a child when her father was swept away by a devastating tornado. Twenty-seven years later, at the head of a team of tornado hunters, she tracks down these mysterious bad weather ravaging the American plains in order to develop a preventive detection system. This summer, the weather forecast predicts the most violent tornado to hit Oklahoma in thirty years… The hunt is on!
It is now 26 years since Twister was released on screens around the world, and what we realize perhaps a little more easily today than then is its “historical” importance. This hindsight of a few years allows us to realize to what extent Jan de Bont’s film, which in many respects undoubtedly stands out as “the” disaster film par excellence, marked the beginning of a new era. for gender.
Because even if Twister was produced at a time that seems a priori far from the heyday of the disaster film (The Infernal Tower, The Poseidon Adventure or Airport all came out in the 1970s), Jan de Bont’s film clearly helped bring the genre back to the fore in the minds of moviegoers, thanks to never-before-seen special effects and impressive sound design. There was thus a “before” and an “after”. Twisterand disaster films based on mass destruction and loaded with digital special effects began to flourish, in theaters or on video. Dante’s Peak, volcano, Deep Impact, Armageddon or even 2012 are therefore so many illegitimate children of Twisterhaving followed in the footsteps of Jan de Bont’s film by focusing their plots on different natural disasters that wreak havoc on a large scale or wipe out half the planet.
We will therefore quickly pass over the plot of Twister, extremely simplistic, just as much as on the binary oppositions that dot the film (city / countryside, instinct / technology, good guys / bad guys, and that we find even in the opposition between the characters of Jami Gertz and Helen Hunt ), to focus on the feeling and the big show. And for once, we can only salute the ambition of Twister, which set the bar higher than ever in terms of scenes of destruction, showing us just how deadly nature can be while wrapping its message in a film that’s fun, tense, exhilarating at times, and quite engrossing. The film is all the more successful in that it never tries to hide its nature as a great spectacle: from the first act of the film, it seems clear that the plot will lead us to encounter an “F5” storm, which will stand out as the climax of the film.
But the journey is more important than the destination, and with each storm that Bill (Bill Paxton), Jo (Helen Hunt) and their team encounter, the category will go up a notch, starting with an F2 and ending – logically – with an F5. And Twister to place the spectator literally in the eye of the storm, in the middle of several devastating tornadoes sowing death and desolation in their path. Conceived as a veritable “rollercoaster” on celluloid, Jan de Bont’s film turns out to be noisy, impressive and 100% fun – it should also be noted that in 26 years, its special effects have not aged (too much) and will still their small effect, even on the youngest, who will have a lot of fun with this famous sequence giving us to see cows carried away by the wind.
On the casting side, besides Helen Hunt and the late Bill Paxton, Twister will also be the opportunity to see another deceased, Philip Seymour Hoffman, in a joyful and rather unusual role. At their side, we will also find Jeremy Davies, Alan Ruck and of course Cary Elwes, who had no equal to play this typically 90’s deceit that we hardly take seriously.
Thirteen years after a first Blu-ray edition that left us a little unsatisfied, Twister therefore reappears on High-Definition support, this time under the colors ofESC Editions. And on the image side, it’s all good: the preservation of the silver grain in no way spoils the High Definition rendering of the film, rich in a very satisfactory level of detail. The pretty photo from the film signed Jack N. Green (On the road to Madison) is respected and the colors are natural and perfectly saturated. On the sound side, the VO in Dolby Atmos (which will be decoded in Dolby TrueHD 7.1 by non-compatible amplifiers) imposes an extremely effective soundtrack, offering clarity, breadth and a multitude of small sound details all at the same time. This mix proves to be faithful to the spirit of the film, and offers subtle sound effects, in particular on the climax of the film. The dialogues are also presented in a clear and balanced way: an optimal sound experience, especially considering the age of the film. That said, nostalgics who have discovered the film in VF will probably all turn to the French version of the film, encoded in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1which is clear, precise, powerful and perfectly distributed, with excellent spatialization effects, especially during tornado scenes of course.
On the supplements side, we will first find the supplements that have made the trip since the 2009 Blu-ray: we will therefore start with a Audio commentary by Jan De Bont and Stefen Fangmeier (in charge of special effects), which will be accompanied by an interesting making of retrospective (29 minutes), which will begin with a discussion with director Jan de Bont and then evolve towards the creation of special effects and the casting. We will also be entitled to a featurette a little older – and very promo-oriented – returning to the filming of the film (14 minutes). We will learn in particular that a real storm that hit the set the night before the start of filming. We will continue with a topic more specifically focused on digital special effects which made it possible to create the tornadoes of the film (8 minutes), to end with a documentary made in History Channel devoted to tornadoes and “real” tornado hunters (45 minutes). But that’s not all : ESC Editions also offers us a unpublished interview with Gilles Penso (19 minutes), which will allow the co-director to Phil Tippett – Of Dreams and Monsters to come back to the career of the too underestimated Jan de Bont, before engaging with the genesis of the film, its shooting and of course its special effects, signed ILM. Very complete and interesting.