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Backdraft (BLU-RAY)


On Blu-Ray: 
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
Running Time: 
138 minutes
Special Features

Over 40 Minutes of Deleted Scenes, "Igniting the Story" -Director Ron Howard, Academy Award®-winning producer Brian Grazer and others discuss the evolution of the film from script to screen,"Real-Life Fireman, Real-Life Stories" -Get an insider's perspective on what it takes to be a firefighter in this round-table discussion with the crew of Station 73, Santa Clarit, and much more

Being a firefighter can be dangerous work, especially when there’s a backdraft fire that can appear out of nowhere in an instant. Though with a lot of fires start to happen around town, Lt. Stephen "Bull" McCaffrey (played by Kurt Russell) of Engine 17 don’t think any of them are natural fires. Only wanting to fight fires Stephen has other troubles appear in his life when his young brother Brian McCaffery (played by William Baldwin) decides that he wants to try to be a firefighter again. These two brothers butt heads in how they see they are living their lives and how they see themselves as firefighters, while at the same time trying to help Donald "Shadow" Rimgale (played by Robert DeNiro) the arson investigator figure out who is starting all the fires around town.

Backdraft is a good movie, I liked it back when it first came out and I liked it now on Blu Ray. This is one of those movies that it takes all the combinations of a good director (Ron Howard), good actors, and a good plot for it to work. Take out any one aspect of those and the movie would be a flop. There have been other firefighter films and shows that try to do something similar to Backdraft and so far most of them have failed. Again, this comes down to one of those 3 parts being missing from them that make them not work.

Kurt Russell does a good job in playing the older brother who is obsessed with fighting fires while also being mean to his young brother. One of the things that I liked about this character Stephen is with how he was so obsessed with putting out fires that it was like the opposite side of what an arsonist is. Then there’s Robert DeNiro. Got to say that I’m a fan of his so I have a hard time finding many movies that I don’t like him in. Sure some of his newest movies coming out now are not his best performance but Backdraft came out when he was still in his prime and it shows. As for the rest of the cast, well William Baldwin was a good pick for the baby faced younger brother who just can’t catch a break, woe is me character, but his acting was just good enough to make the character alright. Maybe another actor would have done better but I guess having just well enough worked well enough that it’s good to watch. Then there’s the supporting actress Jennifer Jason Leigh who plays Jennifer Vaitkus, the ex-girlfriend to Brian and Rebecca DeMornay who plays Helen McCaffrey the wife of Stephen. Both of these women have roles that show them loving their men but at the same time hating their jobs. Neither want to see them get hurt on the job but know they can’t do anything to stop them.

Most of all I think what makes this film good is that the fire is the villain of the story. Sure there’s the arsonist that is running around starting them, there’s even Donald Sutherland who plays the character Ronald Bartel who is a convicted arsonist who loves fires so much he’s called it ‘The Animal’. However, Backdraft is not centered persay on the arsonist as the villian, though they have their role, which is to have an actual person to root against, but the fire takes center stage. With most firefighter movies/shows, the first is just a side product that gets mentioned, here it was being shown that this is what makes these guys what they are and it made the film worth watching. Though it don’t hurt any that Ron Howard is the director.

Having this Blu Ray anniversary edition of Backdraft that has been ‘remastered in high definition to get the most from your HDTV’ was not that impressive to me. Ok, sure the picture was better than then what I was expecting but it’s still a film that was made before HD was out so as much as it’s been cleaned up, there’s still aspects of the film that can be seen that are not the greatest of qualities. There’s still a little noise to some of the darker scenes, which there’s a lot of black in a film that has fires everywhere, but it’s not so bad that it does anything to count against the film. Sound quality was great though, making it easy to hear without having to turn the volume up or too loud forcing me to do the volume up/down dance.  Though the best feature about this new Blu Ray edition is the bonus features. Getting an introduction by Ron Howard, the deleted scenes, and the making of the fires were my favorite of the features. Backdraft might not be one of the must see movies before you die, but it is worth watching.


Lee Roberts
Review by Lee Roberts
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