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Backdraft (HD DVD) [HD DVD]
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Product Description

Universal Backdraft - HD DVD
Academy Award-winning director Ron Howards heroic action-thriller about the adventurous lives of professional firefighters now includes hours of bonus features that take you behind the heart-pounding pyrotechnics and Academy Award-nominated special effects! Kurt Russell and William Baldwin star as two feuding firefighter brothers who must set aside their personal differencesin order to survive the burning, churning infernos set by a maniacal arsonist.

A somewhat contrived screenplay doesn't stop this thriller from serving up some of the most spectacular fire sequences ever committed to film. Like any Ron Howard production Backdraft is impressively slick and boasts a stellar cast, including Kurt Russell and William Baldwin. The actors play sibling rivals who have been at odds since the death of their firefighter father years earlier. Robert De Niro is the veteran fire inspector who is tracking a series of mysterious and deadly arsons, and Donald Sutherland is effectively creepy as the former arsonist who understands the criminal psychology of pyromaniacs. Rebecca De Mornay, Scott Glenn, and Jennifer Jason Leigh are featured in supporting roles. Backdraft is a triumph of stunt work and flaming special effects. --Jeff Shannon

Customer Reviews:

  • Great movie! Highly realistic.
    i have heard many people say that alot of it was fake and most of it could not happen but I have talked to firefighters including my father who have said that it is all true up until the end in the chemical building. It is a great movie i recomend it to everyone. It deserves 10 stars!...more info
  • excellent movie
    A lot of drama and some really cool action scenes make for an excellent movie. Ron Howard is a very talented guy and this is one of his earlier breakthroughs. There's an element of artistic license in the way that Howard depicts the fires and firefighting; he also showed artistic license in his portrayal of mental illness and John Nash's life in A Beautiful Mind. Other reviewers have criticized the Backdraft script and claimed that the only good things in this movie are the fire sequences, but I disagree. I think the whole thing is good, and the final "faceoff" scene with Scott Glenn in the massive fire is classic. The movie has a bit of a 1990s feel, which may date it slightly, but I think that's part of the appeal. Kurt Russell is the king of cool, and he's perfect for this role. Another cool movie of his that not that many people know about is Dark Blue, which is about the LAPD and LA riots. Author of Adjust Your Brain: A Practical Theory for Maximizing Mental Health....more info
  • Fire has it's own character
    `It lives, it breathes and it hates'. This is the description made by Robert DeNiro's character in Backdraft, stating the volatile nature of something we all fear, but rely on; Fire.

    Backdraft is a different movie, filled with characters who are flawed and angry with one another. There are many messages that go along with this movie. I'm not sure where Ron Howard was going with the relationships of the characters, maybe no where and that's ok. Why try so hard to make the relationships go somewhere in such a short amount of time when we can clearly tell that the issues between them are a result of a lifetime of hardships and disagreements. These are not the kind of disputes that get resolved in a short period of time, if ever. You can take away what you want from the movie in that respect.

    The movie centers around Brian McCaffrey (William Baldwin), who returns home to Chicago after years of failed business ventures to make sure he doesn't follow the family line of becoming a Firefighter. After giving in and completing the Fire Academy, he is placed in his brother's company, one of the toughest. His brother Steven (Kurt Russell) is still a bit annoyed with him for not deciding to become a fireman right off the bat (Chicago firefighters have a stout tradition for family continuance and stubborn old fashioned fire fighting that has no room for progressive tactics). He seems determined to make sure Brian either stays with it and becomes as good as he is, or quits. Brian takes it personally at every turn. Sibling rivalry ensues.

    Subplots abound as we learn that fire stations are being closed for political purposes and Brian finds he has feelings for childhood friend (Jennifer Jason Leigh). DeNiro plays Donald Rimgale, the Fire Investigator that is looking into the Backdraft murders (a phenomenon that causes a fire in a closed room to subside after using all the oxygen, but explodes when O2 is reintroduced from the open door), high level politicians and businessman are being killed with this method and it becomes an MO. DeNiro is solid in his role as the Arson investigator, spouting lines about loving fire and understanding it's nature. Kurt Russell is good as he swaggers through his role, a character who attacks fire, knowing for some reason that he won't ever be killed by it. Baldwin seems lost as usual, but the character himself is somewhat lost trying to decide what to do in his personal struggle. Leigh doesn't seem interested in her role but manages to get through and Rebecca De Mornay plays the small role she has as Steven's estranged wife with great world-weary realism. Scott Glenn, mercilessly put in a shaved down role, is good as well. The best character though is Donald Sutherland, playing Ronald Bartel, a pyro-psycho who is locked up in a mental institution. He comes up for release occasionally and Rimgale goes in and repeatedly proves just how insane he still is, no matter what he tricks the doctors and release board into thinking. Sutherland is obviously having the most fun with his part. His character is called upon to help find out who is behind the Backdraft murders.

    The biggest character of the film though is the fire, and it is astounding. Even though the movie is over 11 years old, it holds up today. With a combination of real fire exaggerated with computer affects in some spots, the visual result is frightening and actually looks alive in some scenes. All in all, the movie is good, although there are a lot of elements squeezed in to make it somewhat epic, and even though it doesn't quite reach that status, it is a good all around movie with great action, emotion and special effects.
    ...more info
  • Who cares about realism?
    This film is one of the best I have seen in a long time. Having been a fan of the score for quite some time (easily Hans Zimmer's best) I though I should really see it. And... wow.

    Firstly, the transfer is pretty good. There are better out there, but the special effects hold up and, yes, you can see everyones pores when they sweat. Minor grain, but nothing too distracting. Much better than what I have heard about the dvd transfer!

    Moving onto the film itself, there seems to be outcries from firemen's sons who say it is not wholly accurate. But, is accuracy the point of a film? I found it very engaging, and came away from it wanting to know much more about what a "backdraft" it (look on wikipedia - it is a real. The acting was really good - thank God it was not Brad Pitt in the end - and the message came through.

    I would recommend this film to anyone, because anyone can watch and enjoy it....more info
  • Backdraft
    Great flick . . . a classic. Likely the most realistic depiction of fire I have ever seen...more info
  • Good movie just to watch
    The movie is one of the best attempts about fire fighters. Not everything is true in the movie, but you need just to watch the film. How many people would have been interested in just seeing a blank screen in the action shots. You have to be able to keep the audience in the movie. I'm career fire fighter and I would recommend people to see the movie. Thanks...more info
  • Backdraft
    This is an awesome movie about firefighters. It shows the dangers that firefighters have to go through and you can appreciate what they do....more info
  • Recommended
    Ron Howardfs breakout mega-film of the early 90fs. A huge hit in the theatres, you would think a movie about big fires would translate well into HD c and it does. Like all our reviews, we skip the plot reviews because we want to know whether you should buy this movie in HD DVD or just use an upconverted SD DVD. I donft want to dote on character development (which is heavy in this movie) becasue it matters not to the HD quality. So, in short, this Universal release is a very cool movie about Chicago firemen as told through the voice of two firefighting brothers. Firefighters are unique civil servants in that they lack authority some other civil servants possess. This makes a firefighter a true hero. Obviously, then, Backdraft asserts itself as a tribute to these unique heroes.

    Having watched many recently produced movies on HD DVD and many movies produced more than 20 years ago movies on HD DVD I am beginning to see a major difference in the pre-effects days in Hollywood. Backdraft is probably one of the last great action/drama movies that does not rely on effects to make things look perfect. The transfer to HD is grand but what remains is that late 80fs/early 90fs movie quality. We still have to deal with the 2 minute musical interlude to show activity: building a house, falling in love, or learning how to be a firefighter. Backdraft probably looked awesome in a theatre (I have to admit I never saw it in the theatre). The explosions and fires still hold up, and thatfs what this movie is about, but having been indoctrinated into HD with movies like Transformers where the action occurs all around you, and not just in front of you on the screen, even on a 56 TV the anamorphic 70mm looks kinda dinky. You have to respect the fact, however, that the fire in this movies is real and not digitally added. While this retains the uniqueness of the movie, it limits the directorfs ability to make a truly immersive picture. I am confident, however, that when shooting the film, cinematographer Mikael Salomon probably never said, gGee, I wonder how this will look in HD from a couchh. All old skool movie making aside, the HD picture was great - with no discernable flaws (as were exhibited in Dune, our next review).

    Like most of the movies I like in HD, what makes this movie special in HD is the audio mix. Its a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix (No true HD for you Dr. Jones!) Where the cinematographer was limited the engineer really made this HD transfer shine. The fires engulfed us not with its images, but with its roar and grumbles. Additionally, the subtle environmental effects added that special favor to this movie.

    The extras are forgettable. Universal, regreattable, spent no time on the menu system either which is the typical polished silver Universal HD DVD menu.

    Did I like this movie? Yes. Did I like the HD transfer? sure. Would I recommend it? Yes, but there are about 50 other HD DVD movies I would get before this one - unless, of course, this is one of your all-time favorties....more info
  • Great Special Effects
    The story alone is very good (the culprit is not quite who you would expect), but the effects are great. This does for fire what "The Abyss" does for water. The "monster" has a life of its own and can be captivating. The personal level interaction is very good and sibling rivalries are presented well. Touches many emotional aspects while still entertaining technically. This should be in your top 100 "must see" movies....more info
  • Terrific Action-Melodrama!
    Viewed in the context of a post 911 world, this terrific film directed by Ron Howard becomes even more meaningful as a detailed portrait of the lives and lifestyles of a group of Chicago firemen trying to come to terms with as series of violet arson/murders plaguing the metropolitan landscape. And, given Kurt Russell's appeal as an action hero, this gorgeously filmed epic take on the look and feel of a travelogue into a fiery Hell! The cast is uniformly superb, ranging from Russell as the older brother whose intimidating presence is so troubling for William Baldwin, who is trying to join what amounts to the family business, and one their hero father died in the line of duty participating in.

    Also terrific here is Scott Glenn as one of the senior firemen on Russell's squad, and Jennifer Jason Leigh as Baldwin's long-lost love now working for an ambitious local city council member. Robert DeNiro appears as an eclectic and somewhat iconoclastic specialist trying to piece together the forensic evidence, and Donald Sutherland makes a cameo as a Looney-tunes firebug who absolutely thrills at the sight, smells and sounds of the backdraft. And of course, the quite lovely Rebecca DeMornay does an interesting turn as Russell's estranged wife, trying to come to terms with how to live either with or without him.

    The story is quite absorbing, as are the series of vignettes bringing us deep into the world of the individual firemen. As a result, we come to quickly care about what happens to these characters as they suit up and slip down the pole to the waiting fire-truck, en route to yet another inferno. The drama works very well, and the action sequences are both realistic and spectacular, and the way the characters are developed and presented adds immeasurably to the story line. This is one sure to stir up your juices and get you going. This one get two thumbs way up! Enjoy!...more info

    This movie was released in theaters on May 24 1991 starring Kurt Russell as Stephen Bull McCaffery, William Baldwin as Brian McCaffery, and Robert DeNiro as Donald Shadow Rimgale. As a firefighter son Brian McCaffery always knew that one day his father wouldn't come home from fighting a fire. His brother Stephen whose nickname is the Bull has already started to follow in his fathers foot steps has already become a firefighter. Now Brian has graduated from rookie school and ends up at the same firehouse that his brother Stephen is. It doesn't take long before the two realize that they can't work together in the same fire house. However, there's a problem growing in the South side of Chicago as a series of Suspicious fires start to surface which forces Brian who still remembers how his dad died to join the investigative office to find out why and how these fires are getting started. As the evidences starts to mount it take Brian to an area where he doesn't want to go. Now a few thoughts on this movie! This is one of those movies where you start on the edge of your sit and you never move. The action and drama in this picture was fantastic. This picture also was great without a leading lady. Based on this, I give this movie 10 weasel stars. ...more info
  • Great when alight but far too watered-down between infernos
    Backdraft has some of the most impressive fire scenes ever shot and some daring stunt work (three of the leads, Kurt Russell, Scott Glenn and William Baldwin, are actually billed as stuntmen), but unfortunately it's wrapped up in a trite two-brothers-at-each-other's-throats plot that keeps it from being anything more than a high-priced soap opera with burning buildings. And, it has to be said, it looks a lot less impressive on the small screen than it did on the big one. Despite the ostensibly impressive ensemble cast, some of the supporting performances are weak, with Jennifer Jason Leigh proving big time that she really can't play `normal' while Donald Sutherland's Hannibal Firelighter is too Looney Tunes to convince even in his brief screen time, while Baldwin is a considerably less compelling leading man than Russell but gets the lion's share of the screen time anyway. The result is a modestly entertaining but entirely predictable studio picture that plays everything but the conflagrations safe.

    While many of the plethora of deleted scenes on the two-disc special edition DVD are trims or purely redundant, it seems that a lot of the murder mystery plot and much of Robert De Niro's lazy turn as an arson investigator also hit the cutting room floor, alongside a couple of good fraternal confrontations, but there's little to imply that a better film was left on the cutting room floor. There's a good selection of featurettes as well to make up for the original bare-bones release, though it's disappointing that the two good theatrical trailers aren't included in the set.
    ...more info
  • Another First Rate Movie By Ron Howard
    Ron Howard presented us with another first rate movie. The steller cast alone makes it wonderful. The subject is an issue we sometimes take for granted and will cause us to stop and pause and be grateful for all that our beloved firemen do for us. Call it favortism if you will because my son and grandson are both firemen but this is a truly collectiable movie I can watch over and over.The sibling rivalry is believeable as well as the marital discord for Kurt Russell because of the danger he is constantly exposed to and he LOVES being a fireman!It has all of the dirty politics and mystery of "who done it" that makes a great plot!It also gives us a chance to see how the internal behind the scenes fire department works for us.An absolute MUST SEE movie!...more info
  • Backdraft: cool, but unrealistic
    The thing about this movie, is that it is cool to finally have a movie just about fire fighting. Yeah firefighting, I'd like to see more movies about firefighting because I am one myself, that is why I realize how incredibly unrealistic the film actually is. There is no way any man or woman could walk around a smokey room without a SCBA (Self Contained Breathing Aparatus). Also, these guys aren't wearing hoods, their necks would be awefully crispy after every fire. Plus, did any body else realize that the fire didn't really spread, it kinda just sat there. Well rather is sat all around the building.

    I was reading the review before about a guy who was hanging out at his fathers fire station. Well, that's great, my dad's a firefigher too, but where he was wrong, there is such a thing as a backdraft. A backdraft occurs when a fire is contained in an enclosed room where it is not large enough to open any air holes or pockets. As the fire grows it uses up all the oxygen in the room until there is no more. And as depected in the movie, when oxygen is presented in the rooms atmosphere, an explosion, probably not as large, would occur. Although a rare occurance, backdraft is a serious threat especially in urban or large buildings. He was right however, there is a such thing as a flash over. That's when the contents in a room become so hot they burst in to flames.

    All in all the movie was entertaing and took an odd twist. For that I give it four stars, not for it being realistic for that I know it is not....more info
  • One of the best films of all time.
    I first saw Backdraft back when it was released in 1991. I was around 14 years old at the time and it made a profound impact on me. It made me appreciate the role Firefighters make and the risks they take. Even though the actions of the characters may not be perform exactly like real Firefighters do (go into a burning building with no oxygen masks on) but that is why it is called a movie. I have watched this film many of times (I mean really watched the film) and saw the pure genius of it. The way Ron Howard directs this film, shows you why he is consider by some, one of the most inspired Directors of are time. Ron took control and made the scenes of the movie come alive. With simple things like the placement of the camera and making sure that the each scene is done with the fullest potential. Even though the cast was not all Superstars, Ron Howard seem to some how make actors like Kurt Russell and William Baldwin (which I believe are these actors greatest performances to date) to perform above and beyond their norm. And the terrific performances by Robert De Niro (as usual), and Donald Sutherland as Ronald the "Insane Fire Bug" in which acts frightfully well. Also the very beautiful and talented Jennifer Jason Leigh makes supporting role in the film. Her role is disappointedly too short in the film but she does an excellent job with her character "Jennifer Vaitkus". As everyone knows the Special Effects in the film are awesome, even to this day. But if you look underneath the movie magic you find and most interesting story line and a great hero story for all. I know some people do not like this movie at all and I will never understand why. I just suggest that they should go back and really watch the film again and maybe the could see why I find it one of the GREATEST FILMS OF ALL TIME. This is one of the few movies that made me cry (at the end). If you never seen Backdraft, it is DEFINITELY worth checking out. This movie has it all.

    TexMax...more info

  • Great Movie!
    I love this Movie, being I am a Fire Fighter, I can relate to alot of of happenes. Sure you wont see Backdrafts in every fire like in the movie, But thats why its a movie. Its not going to be 100% correct all the time.
    The special effects are awsome, and the actors fit the parts perfectly. I wish they would have givin Dinero a bigger part in the movie, but ohh well. I highly suggest this movie to everyone. You will get to see what Fire Fighters do, and how they put there life on the line everyday to save lives and property. One of my favorite movies, and it reminds me why I put my life at risk to do what I love....... being a Fire Fighter....more info
  • Firehouse Fairy Tale...
    Ron Howard's Backdraft, is a film that centers on the lives of two brothers. Their father, a Chicago firefighter, was killed on the job when they were young boys. As adults, the McCaffreys, are both members of fire department. The elder brother Stephen (Kurt Russell), nicknamed "Bull", is a veteran firefighter, who prefers taking on a fire head on. His younger brother Brian (William Baldwin), is a recent graduate into the department, and though he seeks to serve out of his brother's shadow, he finds himself assigned to Bull's stationhouse. While Bull is something of a legend within the department, all is not perfect in his life, as estranged from his wife (Rebecca DeMornay), he lives on his father's old dry docked boat.

    The family drama is set against a subplot, involving a series of suspicious fires that are being investigated by the fire department's arson specialist, Lt. Rimgale (Robert De Niro). A local Alderman (J.T. Walsh) responsible for budget cutbacks to the department, is pressing Rimgale for answers. After another clash with his big brother, Brian transfers to Rimgale's arson investigation unit.

    Once this occurs, the story expands to become more than just a sibling rivalry, as the focus shifts to the investigation of arson and other matters. De Niro, Baldwin, Walsh and Donald Sutherland, who plays a crazed imprisoned arsonist, then assume more primary roles. The physics of a backdraft are quite fascinating, and the results spectacular and explosive. The film does feature some fine special effects and stunts, related to the fire fighting scenes. The identity of the arsonist, and the reasons for the crimes, may not be very credible, but the film proceeds towards a spectacular and emotional finish. In the end, it all comes back to the two brothers, and the special bond between firefighters.

    The film does have its flaws. Baldwin (28) and Russell (40) are a bit of a mismatch as brothers, with more of an age difference as adults, than it appeared when they were children. The incident where Brian mistakenly rescues a mannequin is simply ridiculous. And the attempts to attribute to fire almost metaphysical qualities, may be something only firemen can truly appreciate. While the film's focus does bounce around a bit between drama, adventure and suspense, overall the presentation is still worth seeing. The DVD however offers very little in the way of extras....more info

  • "...Some guys on this job, the fire owns them...the only way to truly kill it is to love it a little..."

    Introduction: Outside of Jaws, the one of earlier movies I remember seeing as a child, [that I wasn't allowed to watch], was probably Ron Howard's "Backdraft". I was curious about fire; How it moved, its color. You name it, I was fascinated by it and the film satisfied my naive curiosity. This might've sparked the want to become a fireman at some point of my life, but the fire is definitely what struck me as the single most compelling thing about the movie. That, and Kurt Russell. Afterward, it sort of vanished into the foreground, becoming nothing but a fond and fuzzy memory until I saw it somewhere on TBS around 2002 or 2004, showing a scene I had never seen before. That scene being Stephen McCaffrey and John Adcox talking to each other outside of a house on the stairs, but its been so long that I'm not even sure that's an actual deleted scene or a fabrication of my own mind. Sad to say, as much as I love the movie, its not one I own on DVD (our VHS is pretty much on its last leg). So when I rented it, I was reminded of how much I enjoyed this film. Sorry for misinformation on my part (despite recently seeing the film, I totally forgot some things).

    Plot: The film begins somewhere in the 1970's inside of closet where a younger Brian and Stephen McCaffrey are playing around with the firefighter attire (more or less Stephen trying to teach his brother how snap up the jacket right), when their father, Dennis McCaffrey's (Kurt Russell) firetruck --Engine 17-- is called to respond to a fire. Brian finally gets the chance to ride with his father and Axe (Scott Glenn) to the scene, while Stephen remains behind at the station. While in the process of securing the building, Brian's father is caught off guard by gas pipe rupture and is killed in the explosion. Brian, unfortunately, witnesses his father's untimely demise.

    Fast-forward several years later, a young man named Tim and a older Brian McCaffrey (William Baldwin) have completed terms their in the academy and are ready to be trained as professional firemen, at the Station 13 (if memory serves). Outside of the bar he meets Jennifer Vaitkus (Jennifer Jason Leigh), his ex-girlfriend, before following Tim to the scene of a fire. Like a ghost from fires long past, Stephen McCaffrey steps out of a burning building, the spinning image of their late father. (Something you'd think would bother Brian.) And much to his displeasure, Brian discovers that he now has to train at his brother's station instead of the desired station he wanted. The McCaffrey's relationship at best, a shaky one; The simplest things set the two off at each others throat and sometimes simply forgotten the next day. Naturally, their strained relationship is tested as the two compete against each other and the fire's their station faces, while, inspector Donald Rimgale (Robert De Niro) investigates several backdrafts, trying to determine whether or not if they're arson or accidental.

    Overview: Despite its age, Backdraft has suffered only a little wear over the span of seventeen years; There are obvious things, like some wardrobes, and the environment itself that keeps the viewer aware of how much the world has changed since then. Hell, the actors themselves let you know how much time has passed. That's hardly anything against it though. But purely on a technical level, Backdraft's special and practical effects still hold up remarkably well against some of today's highly improved effects. Like John Carpenter's The Thing, Backdraft may require multiple views to fully appreciate and understand the storylines it throws at you.

    Unless your the type of viewer who catches onto subplots particularly quick, then you'll have no problem with solving the mystery that surrounds the secondary story of the film; The backdrafts and their seemingly unconnected victims. It throws one possibility at you after another as to who could be causing this (one possibility in particular actually had me praying it wouldn't be a certain character), but the film tends to get distracted with Brain McCaffrey's struggle to prove to his cynical brother that he can be a real fireman and the half-baked romance between himself and Jennifer Vaitkus; The only sex scene in the movie between the two characters, constantly interrupts a particularly gripping search for a fire inside of a high-rise building and ruined the entire scene for me. Thankfully, it doesn't last for long.

    However, when the film does return to the main focus of the story (the firefighting), things slowly start to click together and make sense. Thus, what was once regarded as a string of disjointed plots, come together in a near-perfect execution that will surprise or confuse you the first time you watch it. When its not throwing the audience into the thick of a fire, Backdraft focuses on the quirky personalities of Station 17 and portrays them more or less as people instead of these mythical beings admired from afar by onlookers and children alike.

    I'm no expert on a fireman's profession, but from what little I do know, Backdraft is probably the best flick done in respect to their profession and it makes them look good doing it. What surprises me though, is the lukewarm response toward the portrayal of their jobs in this film. Particularly from the so-called firefighters themselves; Some reviewers tear the movie apart over the lack of proper equipment usage or how the fire sequences themselves are portrayed. Its like, for one moment, they completely forget that their watching a movie and feel the need to critique it on the smallest things like its some sort of documentary gone horribly wrong. Now in terms of the dialogue, while some of it is indeed cheesy, I never thought it so terrible or irritating enough to criticize it. If you want to be reminded how bad dialogue can get, go watch a Steven Seagal movie.

    Performances in the film are particularly strong and some hardly falter ...sometimes (I facepalm everytime I have to watch the slow-mo scenes). As usual, Robert De Niro and Donald Sutherland give excellent performances in their small, but appreciated roles as a Inspector and Arsonist with a history. Kurt Russell and William Baldwin have a great chemistry as brothers --even moreso when they fight--, the two play off of each other quite well. Yet, the only actor that seems to do well on his own is Russell. As the eldest McCaffrey, he is a reckless firefighter, who isn't afraid to take the fire head-on (A trait that plays both to his advantage and disadvantage), yet cannot seem to get his personal life together even if he tried. Kurt Russell plays both the comic and dramatic sides of his character with such ease, its hard not to love Stephen, even when he's being a jerk. (I really can't comment on Russell's performance as the McCaffrey bros. Dad, as he was gone as soon he appeared. He played the 'father' role well, I'll say that much.) Kurt proves time and time again why he's such an excellent actor and this movie is only one example. This isn't to say Baldwin as Brian is horrible, no. He does remarkably well in this movie, but half the time he doesn't seem to be trying in some scenes and Brian was someone I could never connect with properly until the end of the movie. If a scene lingered too long on him, I was sorely tempted to fast forward.

    Scott Glenn, despite his great performance, is the most under-used actor in the entire movie; which I suppose works to his character's, Axe, advantage in some ways, still it would've been nice to see more of him. Rebecca De Mornay (Risky Business) and the late J.T. Walsh, played Helen McCaffrey and Martin Swayzak with relative ease as well; Walsh played the deplorable character you automatically hated the moment he opened his mouth without trouble. Mornay was a convincing wife and mother, fed up with her husband's reckless behavior. And while I generally liked her character, I never understood why she rejected Stephen when he tried to come back, outside of her own fears and not so much the welfare of their son.

    Lastly, the score, composed by Hans Zimmer, suited the every scene in the film to a tee. Emotional or action-packed, Zimmer doesn't fail to play on the emotion of a scene and intensify it tenfold. Granted, there was that all too familiar "Zimmer" theme that reappears in the films The Rock and Pirates of the Pirates of the Caribbean - The Curse of the Black Pearl, but that can be easily overlooked. Overall, Backdraft is a excellent Multi-genre Adventure film that never fails to deliver on what it promises the viewer. Performances are strong and the fire sequences are some of the best around. You won't look at fire the same way in a movie again. However, it is among the many "Love it or Hate it" films, so depending on your person, you may or may not love this film. I highly recommend it to anyone curious enough to watch despite its flaws. ----- [5 out of 5] - September 24th, 2008...more info
  • Reply to Gary F. Taylor
    Nothing personal Mr. Gary F Taylor, but the condition they portray in the film IS a Backdraft. Maybe your father was a firefighter, that does not make you one, I AM a professional firefighter. A flashover is when the temperature of a room reaches the point that it causes all of the pyrolytic gasses of the contents of the room to spontaneously ignite, this usually occurs between 1000 and 1400 degrees F. A backdarft is a fire that has darkened down due to a lack of oxygen. When oxygen is suddenly introduced to said room the built up, superheated fire gasses explode or "combust in a rapid and uncontrolled manner".
    The scene of the rookie opening the door without first checking for heat and being caught in the sudden explosion is a TEXTBOOK EXAMPLE of a backdraft.
    Beyond that, yes the movie is unrealistic, IT'S A MOVIE! What movie is NOT unrealistic in at least some aspect? It is entertainment NOT a documentary! From an entertainment standpoint it was very captivating.
    So how about quit trying to be something you are not and just ENJOY THE MOVIE!...more info
  • Over exaggerated action for a dangerous profession
    I'm going to try to make this short and sweet,and although for the most part I am a fan of many of Ron Howard's films,this one is a bit of a dud.True,the special effects and fire scenes give this film some pizzaz,but not enough to warrent it a 3,4 or 5 star rating.I am in the fire profession myself and I can tell all of you that the action scenes are almost 100% unrealistic and phoney.If any of the things were attempted in real life as seen on screen,Kurt Russel and his crew would have died early on in the begining of the film.The acting was mediocre at best(mostly due to the poorly written script)and really...the best and most interesting characters and parts in the film were portrayed by Robert Deniro as the Fire Inspector and Donald Sutherland as the convicted pyromaniac.Not nearly enough time was spent on them or in the film for that matter.It in fact was probably the most realistic part of the movie at all.All in all,if you want some medioce entertainment and a "macho" portral of Firefighters this one does deliver.Personally,of all the Ron Howard films made,this is my least favorite and is at the bottom of my list.I pretty much hated this film.Not only for its inaccurate portral of the firefighter profession,but because when it came out,every macheesemo guy out there who had something to proove wanted to be a firefighter and the job market was flooded with recruits that had the wrong idea about what being a firefighter is really all about.Its not about rushing into a burning building to be the hero.Most firefighter who are heros are "dead" heros.Firefighting is ranked amongst the most dangerous professions and is for a very good reason.Backdraft is full of hot air and allot of blow hard B.S.To date,there has been no good or accurate depiction of a Firefighter put to film.Maybe one day?...more info
  • Universal Provides Us With A Much Needed Double-Dip, Backdraft Is One Of Those Films That Deserves A Slot On Your Shelf
    MOVIE: In a much needed re-release Universal gives us an incredible 15th Anniversary set for Backdraft. Backdraft is a movie that we see so often nowadays, but Ron Howard executed it in such a way that it remains as one of the best of the "real-life hero tribute" films. The script is filled with contrived dialogue and some incredibly lame and cliched plot turns, but it's the fire footage that makes this film exceed above the rest. The filmmakers initially wanted to go with CGI fire, but the tests done looked so fake that they turned to the real thing. Some amazing scenes are shot in this film that we'll probably never see in a film again due to the fact that CGI has advanced so much over the past decade. The characters are likable and relatable, but the acting is a bit overdone. This isn't the greatest film ever made, but the characters feel real enough to keep a strong emotional connection with the audience, and that's the essence of good filmmaking. Many see Backdraft as the ultimate tribute to firefighters across America, and while the ending of the film sends a tribute, the movie is actually very much centered around the two brothers. Heroism and courage are not central themes of this movie, but it's more about embracing the people around you (not teamwork). The film also features the first collaboration between Ron Howard and Hans Zimmer, in which Zimmer produces one of his best synthesizer based scores. A really good film that finally gets the DVD release it deserves.

    VIDEO: Owners of the original Backdraft release will rejoice with this all-new digitally remastered transfer. The colors are solid, but I think they picture could have been sharper. There was no hazing or haloing during the fire scenes though, and that was my biggest fear.

    AUDIO: I didn't own the previous set of the Backdraft, but I'm guessing that this Dolby 5.1 mix is the same mix from the old set. If it is new, then it's a shame. The subwoofer get's a good workout and Zimmer's score is prominent but the dialogue and quality overall is not that rich or spread out.

    SPECIAL FEATURES: The special features are really short, I went through them in one day. Even though they are short, they are great to watch and are informative. When you play the film you will see a short introduction from Ron in his scruffy beard mode. The best featurette was the "Igniting The Story" one in which we go through the script to screen process. We interview some key people about bringing the movie to life, and surprisingly Hans Zimmer gets his own section about the score. I was so happy to see Zimmer in there discussing his work because composers usually never get any screen time in the special features. The other featurettes cover the casting, stunt work, using fire as a character, and then real-life accounts from real firemen. A great set of features with new interviews mixed in with interviews from 1991.

    BOTTOM LINE: Buy this set whether or not you own the old one or not. While not the best work we've seen from Ron Howard, it's definitely one of those movies that takes you on an exciting and emotional ride. It also has the honor of being the definitive film about fire fighters unlike the most recent and forgettable Ladder 49. ...more info
    Ron Howard delivered a long overdue paean to firefighters with BACKDRAFT, a movie that went for the throat, and seldom let up. Kurt Russell and William Baldwin were both excellent as sibling firefighters, but Donald Sutherland ( in a small role ) was simply wonderful ( and quietly frightening ) as a pyro. The graphics, stuntwork, and set design in this film are incredible. If you liked LADDER 49 ( which was made over a decade after BACKDRAFT ) you'll probably love this movie....more info
  • The fire rages on in this thriller.
    Stephen McCaffrey (Kurt Russell) and Brian McCaffrey (William Baldwin) are both firefighters in the same unit. They are also brothers whose father died in the line of duty as a firefighter. Never having been on great terms with each other, they now have to work side by side, while Stephen is in charge. And the fires they fight are becoming more and more frequent and more and more dangerous because of the lack of firefighters thanks to the cities cut in manning due to supposed money issues. To top it all off, the fires are beginning to look a lot like an arsonist that is targeting certain individuals within the city.

    While Backdraft might not be the best thriller out there, it is still a good one. Having not seen this movie since the theaters, I was caught in suspense until the ending because I had no clue who the arsonist was. Sure I had my guesses, but I was never sure. Kurt Russell was amazing as Lt. McCaffrey and as the brother of Brian. I could totally see Kurt being this firefighter for real. And even though Robert Deniro has a small role in this film, it is of course done with perfection. I could've done with a lot more of his character for sure. Willy Baldwin, he was ok. I'd much rather see him act than Stephen Baldwin for sure. Even the fire itself seemed like an actor itself in this movie the way Ron Howard filmed it. With it's creaks and groans and screams and sizzles, it just seems alive. I tell you what though, I'm still not a Donald Sutherland fan...heh. The only time I liked him in this movie was when he was up for parole and Robert Deniro started questioning him. That's when he shined, but other than that, I thought his acting was too goofy. Also, while I said Backdraft is a good thriller, sometimes it just feels a little cookie cutter. The way the investigation of the arsonist was being handled seemed like a straight rip off from Silence of the Lambs. And the bickering between the two brothers seemed kind of like "As the Firefighters turn..." And some of the actors just seemed wrong for their parts like Jennifer Jason Leigh and Rebecca De Mornay. They are ok actresses and all, but I don't know, they just didn't seem to fit in here. Maybe it's just me. One thing though that I did truly enjoy was the interactions between the firefighters. They seemed a lot like a family like I would imagine a firefighter unit to be. Joking around with each other when off duty, and working like a single person (most of the time) while on the job. Everyone just seemed to mesh really well with each other when it came to the firefighters.

    In the end, I would say give this a rent, because I don't really see much second time viewing when it comes to this movie. Good movie though.

    P.S.- I didn't even know this was a Ron Howard film until I saw his brother Clint Howard playing a Pathologist. Had to check then..heh....more info
  • Iron Chef!
    It's sad that when I hear the Backdraft music I think about Iron Chef now, but I'm sure the royalties helped add some cash to the music rights owners.

    This movie surprised me. I wasn't expecting to enjoy or be moved by a firefighter movie. I like Kurt Russel and was surprised at how much I liked his character in this film.

    The performance by De Niro was small, but good. Even the Baldwin wasn't too annoying.

    I think what made me love this movie was the story. I didn't catch onto the twists and turns until the end when it all becomes clear. I enjoy the fact that the movie holds realism and doesn't sell itself out and become some BS feel good movie.

    Highly recommend this film....more info
  • "You Go...We Go!"
    This is one of my favorite movies of all time. I still have a lot of memories of being thrilled when watching this movie so many times when I was younger when this movie was released all those years ago and now nearly 13 years after it's release, "Backdraft" still succeeds on all fronts in delivering the action and explosive fiery special effects. In regards to certain events of recent times, this movie has become very compelling on both a personal and worldly level. It even reminds me of when much of Chicago looked so gritty back around the late 1980s and early 1990s even in some of the nicer neighborhoods around that period in time. Plus it also kind of explores the unknown areas. While the movie isn't based on a true story, the writer behind this film witnessed a comrade actually lose his life because of a backdraft which blasted him across a street and into a fence. It was this loss that inspired him to write the storyline of this movie.

    Anyhow let's get to the movie. It's a tale of two feuding McCaffrey brothers Stephen and Brian McCaffrey who have generally been at odds with each other for almost their whole lives but both of their lives are changed when their father Dennis and now amidst the conflict they've had with each other, the two struggle to carry on the family firefighting business. Amidst their longstanding distant relations, their fire department is grappled with a large outbreak of arson attacks that have been occurring at a disturbingly frequent rate in Chicago and the whole department is at a fast pace to track down the causes, and possibly the one responsible for the fires. Also, another major hurdle in the fire department's investigation into the cause of the numerous fires sweeping Chicago ARE major funding cutbacks from an inept bureaucratic alderman (played by the late J.T.Walsh) and it's making an already dangerous task a much bigger headache not only for lieutenant Rimgale, but also making things a lot more complicated for the feuding McCaffrey Brothers.

    Back when this movie was new back in the early 1990s, I enjoyed it for its edge-of-your seat action but today, I love this movie for many more reasons now. First, the movie's tale of the heroism of firefighting and how they are ready and not afraid to put their own lives on hold to save others is absolutely gripping and sometimes saddening to know but also very compelling. Another thing that really makes this compelling as well is the sometimes heartbreaking tale of what it's like to be in the shadow of an experienced firefighter who is also one's own brother. Although I've experienced little sibling conflict, as a younger brother, I can especially understand all the insecurity of what Brian goes through in this movie. The movie is also very compelling with the intense and rich music by composer Hans Zimmer. The fiery special effects are absolutely amazing especially for it's time.

    However, I would have to say that I have noticed some occasional flaws in this movie but they do not take away any of its power and entertainment factor by any stretch of the imagination. Perhaps the greatest speed bump is that this defies some of the real life laws of physics. In several scenes, the firefighters go right into the burning buildings with no gas masks and no oxygen tanks either. This is probably what has turned some people off here. In real life, these firefighters in this movie would have suffered third degree burns and burned to death in just a matter of minutes but also there are also the numerous noxious fumes that fires can generate and they would have suffered permanent and or serious lung damage from the heat of the hot air and the smoke. That brings to mind, in several of the fires in this movie, I have noticed little smoke in many of them. I've seen cooking grills in the backyard generate smoke than some of the scenes in the movie. These are just some things that I feel were evident in this movie but I guess even then, it would've been impossible to create a movie that would perfectly follow the laws of physics especially one like "Backdraft" so I forgive them for this and it doesn't subtract any stars from the ratings.

    I give my hands down to Kurt Russell and William Baldwin who played the emotionally distant brothers Stephen "The Bull" and Brian McCaffrey. Kurt Russell's role as Stephen was very intense and sometimes heart-wrenching as he played the emotionally unstable elder McCaffrey brother. I especially was moved by William Baldwin's portrayal as the younger firefighter brother Brian. Although I've gotten along very well with my older brother on an overall note, but as a younger sibling, I especially identify quite well with Brian's character. It's very emotionally heartbreaking seeing the often very fractious relations between the two firefighting siblings especially towards the latter half of the movie. The other cast are really great as well. Robert De Niro's role as the lieutenant Donald Rimgale was so cool especially when Rimgale is disgruntled when trying to find out the causes of all of these numerous fires. I really feel that De Niro's role is hindered by the fact that Rimgale is more of a background character than a major character. Although only a minor role and in a few scattered scenes, I really thought that Donald Sutherlands role as the former arsonist Donald Bartel was absolutely a thrill to watch and even very chilling at times. The only disappointing thing about Rimgale and Bartel is that this movie doesn't allow much insight into these two and I felt they could really have used more development. While not to the degree of dropping the ball necessarily, the female roles of Rebecca De Mornay as Stephen's estranged wife, and Jennifer Jason Leigh as the secretary to the alderman I felt were rather unremarkable in my opinion.

    Everyone involved with this project deserves all of the praise that they can get. Not only have they created a very entertaining film, they've also succeeded in making a very compelling and heroic movie about the most underappreciated heroes that our country is blessed with. The ending is also very touching in a way the few movies do once finished. "Backdraft" is one of the most underrated movies of the past 25 years and is one of the greatest action movies ever made. If I were to pick a favorite of mines from Ron Howard, "Backdraft" is my pick for his best movie to date not only because of excellent directing but because of a highly compelling plot, excellent script and incredible special effects as well. The music, courtesy of Hans Zimmer, is absolutely amazing and makes this movie even more compelling and encouraging to the extent that it almost makes you want to do something good for society. I highly recommend that you get your hands on a copy of this movie because it's one of the most compelling and emotional movies that has ever been made. The ending is really one of the most moving endings I've ever seen in a movie outside of "Lord of The Rings: Return of The King". The DVD unfortunately offers little in the way of extras and the transfer is asking for a better re-transfer for perhaps a "Special Edition" DVD some unknown future....more info

  • a flawed but admirable effort
    At the time of its release, Backdraft was regarded by some critics as an admirable if not flawed homage to the profession of firefighting. Of course, compared to the recent Ladder 49 it seems downright gritty and hard-hitting but still doesn't hold a candle in terms of realism to television's Rescue Me. Still, Ron Howard's film has its heart in the right place and does boast an impressive cast. Looking back at it now, Backdraft was one of Howard's early attempts to be taken seriously as a dramatic filmmaker and an initial bid at Oscar glory - something that would elude him until A Beautiful Mind.

    Howard's film dutifully trots out the stereotypical characters: the long-suffering ex-wife (DeMornay), the gorgeous but otherwise unimportant love interest (Jason Leigh), the crazy killer (Sutherland), the gung-ho recruit (Gedrick) who is punished for his inexperience, the feuding brothers and so on. What Backdraft does have going for it is how it shows the camaraderie of the men in the firehouse: the good-natured hazing of the new guys, the communal meals and how they watch each other's backs in and out of fires. It is very much a brotherhood and this film brings this out very well.

    Speaking of which, the firefighting scenes are well-staged and executed, done before the proliferation of CGI and this gives these scenes a real, visceral quality. It is like the fire is another character, a living, breathing organism with a life of its own and the ability to take one as well. Howard's camera is able to get into the thick of these fires so that there is no safe distance in which to remove oneself from the action. You're right in there with the firefighters.

    The best scene in the movie isn't the impressively staged fires but the one between Donald Sutherland's twitchy, crazed arsonist and De Niro's investigator. It lasts only a few minutes but every moment between these two brilliant actors is mesmerizing and truly brings the film to life proving yet again that good acting trumps SFX and stunts every damn time. In fact, Backdraft should have focused on De Niro's intriguing character and his intuitive knowledge of how fires work and what causes them. The screenplay hints at an interesting backstory for him and his relationship with Sutherland's firebug. Instead, it amounts to nothing more than a subplot and a red herring of sorts.

    The first disc features an introduction by Ron Howard as he briefly talks about how proud he is of the movie and what else is available on this 2-disc set.

    There is 43 minutes worth of deleted scenes that sheds light on Brian's backstory -- his nomadic existence, how he dropped out of the academy years ago and how he talks his way back in. There is also more footage of the mysterious arsonist plying his trade that reveals a little too much a little too early in the movie. We also get more of De Niro and Sutherland which is always a treat.

    The second disc starts off with "Igniting the Story," a featurette that traces the origins of the project as Howard and his producer Brian Grazer talk about what drew them to it. The screenwriters talk about the genesis of the screenplay while the term "backdraft" is also explained.

    "Bringing Them Together: The Team" examines the casting process. Howard knew Kurt Russell from back when they were child actors and had always wanted to cast him in one of his movies. Baldwin, Glenn, Gedrick and, surprisingly, Jason Leigh (who never seemed too enthused about this project) talk about how they got involved in new interviews for this DVD.

    "The Explosive Stunts" takes a look at how they pulled off the realistically rendered firefighting scenes. The highlight of this extra is Scott Glenn recounting a particularly dangerous stunt where he came very close to getting seriously burned.

    "Creating the Villain: The Fire." After computer effects tests failed, the special effects guys ran all kinds of practical tests to see the various ways they could manipulate fire. Everything was planned out beforehand.

    Finally, there is "Real-Life Firemen, Real-Life Stories" with actual firefighters from Station 73 in Santa Clarita, California recounting some of their own personal anecdotes and what they think of the movie. These guys really love what they do and speak passionately about it....more info
  • Backdraft (HD DVD)
    HD brings the movie to life. A pleasure to watch especially for BOGO free. Great movie to add to your collection....more info
  • Backdraft - HD DVD
    The HD DVD version of Backdraft looks & sounds excellent. This looks great in HD and is a big improvement over the DVD version of the movie. ...more info
  • Okay but not as good as LADDER 49
    I am a fire buff and I enjoy firefighters but this movie isn't as good as LADDER 49 because some of the firefighters didn't wear their SCBAs (Self Contained Breathing Apparatus). Also, Kurt Russell's coat wasn't buttoned all the way up. The trucks used in the movie are Engine 17 (1970 Ward LaFrance) Engine 24 (1978 American LaFrance)Truck 46 in the opening (1976 International Harvester with a Seagrave tiller trailer) truck 46 in the later parts of the movie (1972 Mack CF with customized lights) Truck 6 (1970s American LaFrance ladder truck) and Engine 51 (also a 1970 Ward LaFrance).
    The fire used in this is digital and it doesn't look right in fire movies and Jay Russell tried using digital fire and so he had to use real fire in Ladder 49. Also, when Ron Howard made this movie he made things go overtime and almost burn Kurt Russell. I saw the making of it on a Ron Howard The Directors video. ...more info
  • Predictable but watchable
    Backdraft sticks to convention and only innovates in its special effects. The plot is rather contrived and provides the excuse for the filmmakers to play with fire -- lots of it....more info
  • Backdraft review
    The fire scenes are way ahead of there time. The plot is figured in a few minutes time but I bought it for the fire effects anyway. ( New HD DVD, player and new 37 in LCD TV. ...more info
  • The Most Excellent Movie Around!
    From the begining you are swept away by this movie. Backdraft is about fire, and how firemen fight it, but within it all, there's a secret brewing and lives are lost. This is a worthy movie and I give it many man kudos. It even had some touching parts in it almost made me cry. We need more movies likes this, it has action, drama, comedy, and horror all in one. You will fully enjoy this dynamic movie. If I could give 10 stars I surely would. So buy this and make it become part of your DVD collection at home and enjoy.

    There is nothing significant about this DVD but the movie itself.

    Well worth the money and time....more info

  • Raging Inferno!
    Forget the story about the brothers. It's all about the fire, baby! Explosions galore. Raging infernos that spread with just the smallest amount of oxygen. Boom! Watch people open doors and a huge fireball surprises them! William Baldwin runs on a rooftop while the roof collapses, Kurt Russell is the ultimate hero, and the old guy did it. Ron Howard's fireman picture will always be remembered for its special effects, not story. Oh yeah, it's also a good 'ride' at Universal Studios....more info
  • Backdraft with Kirt Russell
    This movie of Backdraft was given to my firefighter granddaughter. She had seen it before but was happy to have a copy to own. J. Hall...more info
  • Skip it.
    Dreadful. Waste of time. De Niro's completely wasted. What on earth was Ron Howard thinking? What on earth was DE NIRO thinking?...more info
  • incredible special effects!
    i don't care what the others say, this movie was great. the special effects were well done....more info