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DVD Review: Backdraft 15th Anniversary Edition

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It’s hard to believe that it’s been 15 years since Backdraft first captivated audiences with its gritty glimpse what city firefighters face every day. Brought to life through the stories of the brothers McCafferty, Backdraft captivates from the first scene to the last, especially now in all of its digitally remastered glory.   

Steven (Kurt Russell) plays the all-American boy who grew up to be the hero his fallen father once was.  Having idolized his dad as a child, Steven was destined to follow in his father’s boot steps and join Chicago's bravest. But when his flighty younger brother, Brian (William Baldwin), passes his training after quitting years before and chasing a string of failed careers, Steven pulls some strings to get him assigned to his unit — so when Brian falls again, Steven can do damage control.

As a rash of arsons begins to obsess Steven’s every thought, the fire itself becomes the star of the film. The first time I saw the movie, I thought that the idea of causing a back draft as an arson technique was pure genius — a fire that is fueled by oxygen, that is in control until you try to fight it was such an irony and an idea I hadn’t heard of before.

still from Backdraft | hosted by TinyPic.comSteven finds himself in the middle of a dangerous as he works with Donald Rimgale (Robert De Niro), a fire investigator with the Chicago Fire Department, works to figure out who is behind the fires. The rivalry between brothers builds, romances ignite and intrigue escalates as the twisty ending leaves you wondering whether a real crime has been committed.  

Howard did a superb job bringing the fire to life in this film and this DVD brings the viewer into the story of the film’s evolution. The first disk in this collector’s edition offers little more than the movie itself. Howard’s introduction gives you a taste of what’s to come on the second disk, but the over 40 minutes of deleted scenes did not do much to enhance the story.

The second DVD offers most of the bonus features you’ll want to spend your time on, including: 

  • "Igniting the Story" – Howard, Academy Award®-winning producer Brian Grazer and others discuss the evolution of the film from script to screen
  • "Bringing Together The Team" – From the casting room to firefighter clinics see how Howard brought together a talented team of actors and real-life firefighters. 
  • "The Explosive Stunts" – Filmmakers reveal the state-of-the-art technology and heroic stunts that created the explosive action of the film. 
  • "Creating the Villain: The Fire" – See how an overwhelmingly talented team of special effects creators and stunt coordinators worked together to bring the fire to life. 
  • "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 Clarita.

Oftentimes the additional features with anniversary re-releases don’t offer much to the viewer. But this is far from the case with Backdraft. The film itself is so driven by the drama of the characters and personality that envelops the fire, features like the real life stories of the Santa Clarita fire crew and “creating the villain” give a wonderful perspective that reinforces your admiration and respect for the film.

Bottom line: Great movie and even better DVD.  

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About Robin Kavanagh

  • Brent McKee

    Quick correction. It wasn’t Steven McCafferty who rode with their father the day he died and was immortalized on the cover of Life Magazine, it was the younger brother Brian. All of which helps to explain why Brian’s later life was so screwed up.

  • Robin Kavanagh

    Thanks for the heads up. Guess that’s what you get when you write tired! All fixed.