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Backdraft (SE)
DVD disk
10.10.2006 By: Quigles
Backdraft (SE) order
Director:
Ron Howard

Actors:
Kurt Russell
William Baldwin
Robert De Niro

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
After the death of his father, Brian McCaffrey joins the ranks of firefighters, alongside his older brother Stephen (who he doesn't get along with). Meanwhile, an on-going investigation involving the fire-based deaths of several civilians proves to be more than meets the eye.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Aside from a cheesy opening and a few sour spots of melodrama, BACKDRAFT is a damn solid firefighting adventure/drama. It may not be the spectacular opus it sets out to be, but it's entertaining as hell, and features enough breathtaking fire sequences to be worth your time. Flames shoot out doors, climb up walls, ripple across floors; you name it - the fire does it. It's truly an amazing spectacle, and is certainly the highlight of the film.

The plot, on the other hand, is rather dull. Well, one of the plots is... The film has actually two connecting stories - the first hour is dedicated to the previously mentioned lame plot (a boring family drama between two bickering brothers with a dead father), while the second hour focuses more on an investigation to find a crafty arsonist. They don't exactly gel together all that well, but I didn't care - I was just happy that, as soon as the second storyline came into play, the movie turned into something a whole lot more interesting. Robert De Niro and Donald Sutherland also help in that regard, adding some flavor to their disappointingly small parts. Meanwhile, William Baldwin fuddles about as the weakest actor on-screen, despite being cast in the leading role. Kurt Russell, on the other hand, certainly has his shit together, and helps balance things out.

In the end, the obvious reason to watch BACKDRAFT is the explosive action sequences. The way the film treats the fire like its own character (which albeit is a little stupid sounding), works superbly well, fully due to how unbelievably kickass the visuals look. Yeah, the movie may have Ron Howard at the helm and a shitload of famous actors playing their respective parts, but it's the fire that shines above all else... Just gotta love that fire...
THE EXTRAS
If you like featurettes, then you're in for a treat - this 2-Disc Anniversary Edition is filled with them.

DISC 1

Ron Howard Introduction (2:53): This self-explanatory extra has the director quickly go over his thoughts on the film, this new DVD, and a few other things as well.

Deleted Scenes (43:09): There are 39 deleted scenes, all of which are presented one by one with no option to select them separately (and also look terrible in terms of picture quality). The actual scenes aren't too bad, mostly involving moments of excessive character development. To be honest though, I could've not seen these and I wouldn't have been bothered.

DISC 2

Igniting the Story (15:00): This interview-filled featurette has the cast and crew go into detail about taking the film's story/script and then bringing it to the screen. Somewhat interesting.

Bringing Together the Team (19:09): The least interesting of the featurettes, this one goes over each of the main cast members one by one, explaining how they got the part, their experiences, etc. Watch the first few minutes to see if it catches your curiosity.

The Explosive Stunts (14:42): Another interview-filled piece, but luckily one that has some great behind-the-scenes footage as well. The focus here is on the intense action sequences, and how the actors alongside the technology made them come to life. Check it out.

Creating the Villain: The Fire (12:51): This is a bit like the last featurette, except it devotes a lot more attention to the actual fire, and how they made it its own entity. Very cool.

Real-Life Firemen, Real-Life Stories (8:58): A group of real firefighters sit together and discuss various aspects of their job, the impact of the film, etc. There's some worthwhile stuff here.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
Part cheese-filled family melodrama, part arson-based murder investigation, and part flame-engorged visual extravaganza, BACKDRAFT evens out to be one hell of a ride. The bickering brother bullshit didn't do much for me, but damn was it cool to see those fire effects. If you like your action slick and filled with explosions, then you'll probably dig what's offered here. This 2-disc set isn't a must own, but if you have even the slightest interest in firefighting, it comes very close.
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