A lot of people criticize Ron Howard for his directing style, calling him safe and predictable. Regardless of what you think, he has delivered a plethora of quality pictures over the last twenty years with a consistency few directors can lay claim to. From "Cocoon" to "Apollo 13" to "A Beautiful Mind," many of his movies are mainstream classics, and "Backdraft," his 1991 thriller, is no exception.
"Backdraft" stars Kurt Russell, William Baldwin, Robert De Niro and Scott Glen as firefighters who brave the heat on more than one occasion after a skilled arsonist begins killing people. His approach: superheat sealed rooms in a way that cause backdrafts when their victims enter - oxygen is suddenly sucked into the room, causing it to ignite and explode.
The movie succeeds on many levels, the most impressive of which being the special effects. The fire really is the main character, and Howard really captures it as if it were a living person. The acting is also quite good, as Russell and Baldwin bring a high level of intensity to their roles. De Niro is also quite good in a smaller role, and Glenn plays an excellent fireman with suspicious motives.
"Backdraft" still holds up quite well, and is now out on a 2-disc Anniversary Edition. The two discs, both of which contain a variety of special features, offer a series of rather dull deleted scenes and several much more interesting behind-the-scenes featurettes and interviews. The interviews offer a lot of insight into the decision making process of how to make "Backdraft," including the choice to go with real special effects rather than computer graphics. The examination into the creation of the fire and the stunts are also quite interesting.
If you're a fan of "Backdraft" but don't own the movie, this may be a good one to pick up. The special features are nothing spectacular, but certainly make this the set to buy if you don't already own the DVD.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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