I suppose it's only natural to expect an Oliver Stone movie to be "in-your-face confrontational," and that's partially why we love the guy, but WORLD TRADE CENTER displays a markedly different approach for the well-admired filmmaker. Mounted almost like a doco-style bio-pic, WORLD TRADE CENTER is at its best when it pushes us deep down under the 9/11 rubble and allows us to see what men fighting for their lives actually looks like. When the movie travels above-ground, half the material is effectively heart-wrenching ... and half of it leans a little bit towards Lifetime Channel material. (It's here that Stone wanders into wholly unfamiliar territory, and it shows -- if only a little.)
On a technical level, the movie is pretty astonishing. The final hours of the twin towers are brought to cinematic life with stunning creativity and craftsmanship, and it's plainly evident that all of the filmmakers approached the subject matter with appropriate honor and respect. (In other words, this movie is no PEARL HARBOR.)
Plus the movie boasts one of the best Nicolas Cage performances of the past ten years, and I consider that something worth watching.
Also on disc one are nine deleted/extended scenes (with optional commentary by Oliver Stone) and the trailers for for a bunch of other Paramount/DreamWorks releases.
Moving over to disc 2 we find a healthy collection of featurettes and documentaries:
The Making of WORLD TRADE CENTER is broken up into three chapters: Committing to the Story (15:13), Shooting in NY and LA (20:10), and Closing Wounds (18:08). Anyone wondering "why would someone make a movie about 9/11??" will find a few excellent answers in this finely-crafted behind-the scenes documentary. Interview participants include Stone, Nicolas Cage, Michael Pena, screenwriter Andrea Berloff, numerous producers and a few of the actual WTC survivors and heroes.
Common Sacrifice is presented in two chapters: Rescue (27:17) and Recovery (26:55). Here we learn about McLaughlin and Jimeno's harrowing story, as told by several of the on-site participants, from cops and rescue workers to medics and the wives. The first chapter focuses on the rescue detailed in the film, and the second deals with the survivors' slow road to recovery.
Building Ground Zero (25:02) illustrates how the underground sets and elaborate piles of massive rubble were created for the film -- and how much effort there was to keep the sets accurate. Visual and Special Effects (11:58) is an excellent look at the film's special effects, from the shockingly obvious ones to the more subtle examples. Q& A with Oliver Stone (13:05) is an excerpt from a London session on September 6th, 2006. Host Mark Kermode asks a few solid questions before opening the floor to an audience member.
Rounding out the second disc are the WORLD TRADE CENTER theatrical trailer, five TV spots, and a photo gallery.