WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Set in 1962, the United States discovers that the USSR is shipping nuclear warheads over to their Communist counterparts in Cuba, possibly setting up for a first strike. It’s now up to President John F. Kennedy (Bruce Greenwood), his brother Bobby (Steven Culp) and his personal assistant (Kevin Costner) to effectively maneuver themselves around the possibilities of World War III during thirteen days which historians would later call the Cuban Missile Crisis.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
If you're looking for a kick ass political thriller, complete with countless moments of nail biting suspense, you needn't look much further than this doozy of a flick. What I love about great non-fiction based movies is that even though we know how things eventually turn out, we’re completely immersed in the moment and captivated by the horrors of what could’ve happened. This movie basically grabs you by the cojones straight from beginning and then proceeds to take you on a rollercoaster ride of some pretty wild ups and downs as the world’s two biggest superpowers prepare for nuclear war. The script is filled with plenty of great dialogue and it was absolutely fascinating to play spectator and take a back seat while watching all of the events unfold. I had no idea that the Kennedys had to fight off not only the Russians, but members of their own cabinet as well, including both the Pentagon and the CIA.
It’s a real shame that Kevin Costner has gotten such a bad rap because of his previous acting choices, the man’s got talent if only he learned to better select his movie projects. You’ll be amazed at how much emotion and intensity he actually puts into the role. Kudos to the tandem duo of Greenwood and Culp for their dead on portrayals of the Kennedy brothers, they not only look the part but deliver some incredibly convincing performances. My only beef with the movie was the director’s decision to periodically intersplice black and white scenes here and there, only to completely drop the idea altogether later in the film. Weird. Peculiarities aside, I really can’t ask for more from a movie considering that Thirteen Days manages to incorporate some hard edged suspense, great intellectual exchanges, a terrific ensemble cast, all while keeping me intrigued for the entire running time of two and a half hours. Trust me, it’ll keep you intrigued the whole way through. It’s a fantastic movie which presents the ultimate chess match (with the fate of the world hanging in the balance) which will most definitely satisfy fans of the politically charged thriller. Check it out.
Thirteen Days marks the first release in the infinifilm series under New Line and when selected, runs in tandem with the movie while sporadically presenting little bars on the bottom of the screen which allow you to select options which take you to clips from the making of the movie, interviews with the crew, historical footage, FX shots, etc. It’s like getting a private tour guide into the making of the movie where you select what you want to know about the film. You really have to see it to fully understand how comprehensive the added material is (Hell, it even answered my question about why they sporadically used black and white footage in the movie which was to first introduce main characters). I’d suggest watching the movie first before going through the infinifilm track. Extensive explanations on how to use the feature are also included on the disc and are a great read for people new to the DVD medium. The best part about the option is that the DVD allows you to go into all of the material separately without having to go an watch the movie again with the track running. First up in a “Historical Information” track which also runs over the film and is basically a subtitle option which presents quotes and information from the story’s time period. Next is “Historical Figures Biographies” which covers practically all the major players involved, split into different categories, including leaders, advisors, military, diplomats and press which total some 19 short clips.
“Roots of The Cuban Missile Crisis” is a 48-minute documentary which ranks as one of the most comprehensive and thorough extras that I’ve ever seen on a DVD. Compiling historical news footage, clips and interviews from the era, this serves as the perfect supplement to the movie and helps shed light on the movie’s inspiration. “Bringing History to the Silver Screen” is an 11-minute featurette that is your typical fluffy look at the film’s historical basis, I’d recommend skipping this one altogether. “Visual Effects” compiled multi-angle footage for a key sequence where fighter jets travel at low levels over Cuba. You can choose from five separate stages of development and it was cool to see the progression and evolution of the FX shots. Nine deleted scenes, each running about an average of a minute with optional director’s commentary are also included and definitely worth a look. Cast and crew biographies as well the original theatrical trailer finish up the extras. The disc’s main menu does feature both sound and animation.
How they managed to squeeze all of this amazing added material onto one disc is beyond me but I can tell you one thing, this DVD is definitely a front runner in the inaugural DVD Clinic “Bang For The Buck” awards. For your cash, you get two audio commentaries, a superb "making of" documentary, deleted scenes, FX breakdowns and to top things off, the incredibly cool infinifilm option which ties everything together. New Line first revolutionized DVD with the Platinum Series but they seem to have even outdone themselves with this brand new line of discs. Thirteen Days gets high marks in almost every category and easily worth the money. Don’t miss it.