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Blu-ray Review: Fireproof

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The new Blu-ray release Fireproof, produced by Sherwood Films/Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Georgia, centers on a firefighter’s marriage struggle. This strong drama/romance has a bumpy start, but quickly settles into an engaging plot with touching themes and character actions.

Kirk Cameron stars as Caleb, a firefighter trying to repair his marriage to his wife Catherine, played by Erin Bethea, who also appeared in Sherwood’s previous film, Facing the Giants, which also recently released on Blu-ray. Caleb and Catherine, a hospital administrator, reach a tense impasse in their marriage, which prompts Caleb’s parents, played by Harris and Phyllis Malcom, to advise and help Caleb. Filmmakers address relateable challenges that can block love between a married couple, like being consumed with Internet pornography, for example.

The film has some memorable moments, heroic fire rescues, and some corny comedy, which produces a nice entertaining mix amid the marriage themes and conflicts. Filmmakers temper the couple’s marriage tension with humor through their neighbor, Mr. Rudolph, played by Bill Stafford in his acting debut. Mr. Rudolph makes a memorable impression as the active neighbor who constantly catches Caleb in heated moments where the awkward exchanges mix with humor. The “Fun With Mr. Rudolph” feature has more humor with this effective, dead pan style humor. The “Firegoofs/Jokes and Pranks” feature adds about seven more minutes of gags and outtakes.

Ken Bevel makes his acting debut as Michael Simmons, Caleb’s hardworking co-worker at the fire station. Alex Kendrick wears many hats as director and writer of this film while also appearing in the film as Pastor Strauss. Kendrick provides the in-depth commentary track with his brother, writer/producer Stephen Kendrick. Alex Kendrick also provides optional commentary on several deleted scenes, which include an interesting comparison between God and Spider-Man.

Other special Blu-ray features include a 23 minute behind-the-scenes featurette, more comedy bit with Stephen Dervan who plays Wayne Floyd, the related “Marriage Matters” featurette and the BD-Live function. The “Fireproof in 60” feature plays the film in fast speed while the best featurette, “Filming a Movie in 30 Days: 'Fireproof' Video Blog”, summarizes the detailed film making process in a 20 minute presentation.

This Blu-ray set also includes a mention of The Love Dare, a companion book, which initially only existed in the film when Caleb’s father gave it to him. After numerous requests, filmmakers wrote an actual book of the same name, which has already sold over 500,000 copies. Audio features include Dolby TrueHD 5.1 format with English, Portuguese and Spanish language options.

The picture is sharp with a 1.85:1 aspect ratio, so the digitally shot content works well on the technical side, especially considering the limited budget. The exterior scenes have a natural clarity as the Kendricks stage each scene with simple elegance, which avoids a manufactured "Hollywood" look. The music video "Slow Fade" by Casting Crowns also bolsters the strong music soundtrack. Recommended and rated PG for thematic material and mild peril.

Fireproof was the highest grossing independent film of 2008, taking in more than $33,000,000 domestically. Fireproof is also available on DVD in the newly released Faith-Based Three-Pack, which also includes Facing the Giants and Flywheel. Sherwood Pictures will announce their follow-up film to Fireproof, their fourth film, on November 15. Fans can find more information and clues at the company's website.

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