Backdraft: Anniversary Edition (Blu-ray) Official AVSForum Review - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 13 Old 01-02-2011, 11:59 AM - Thread Starter
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attachment.php?attachmentid=196179&d=1293906688
The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )

Film: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

Extras: attachment.php?attachmentid=109945&d=1210373692

Audio/Video total rating:

( Max score: 100 )

88






Studio and Year: Universal - 1991
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 137 minutes
Genre: Drama

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: VC-1
Video Aspect: 2.35:1
Resolution: 1080p/24


Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, French DTS 5.1, Spanish DTS-HD 2.0
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Starring: Kurt Russell, William Baldwin, Scott Glenn, Robert De Niro, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Rebecca De Mornay, JT Walsh, Donald Sutherland
Directed by: Ron Howard
Music by: Hans Zimmer
Written by: Gregory Widen
Region Code: A,B,C

Blu-ray Disc release Date: January 4, 2011







"You go. We go"



Film Synopsis:

Academy Award® -winning director Ron Howard's heroic action-thriller about the adventurous lives of professional firefighters. Kurt Russell and William Baldwin star as two feuding firefighter brothers who must set aside their personal differences in order to survive the burning, churning infernos set by a maniacal arsonist.



My Take:

I saw Backdraft during its theatrical run and have been a fan ever since. I have owned it on DVD as well as HD DVD and looked forward to reviewing it on Blu-ray. Backdraft is most decidedly a commercial and clichéd film in that it plays to audience by tossing emotionally connected and dramatic themes at us while attempting to stimulate with action, suspense, mystery and a variety of adrenaline raising special effects. I find that while these components propel the story it's the character driven elements that bring them together. There are a multitude of interpersonal relationships (perhaps too many) that coexist over the course of the film. The primary focus is on Stephen and Brian, the two brothers who struggle with estrangement and confliction. Stephen being the more complex of the two as his obsession with living up the memory/image of his deceased firefighter father has cost him his marriage, promotions, and a clearer understanding of his brother Brian. In Brian's case it is dealing with the loss of his father, constantly living in Stephen's shadow and trying to live up to everyone's expectations of him. Revolving around that familial dysfunction/drama are several subplots; Stephen's estrangement from his wife/son, Brian's career confusion, Stephen's cowboy mentality as the leader of a company of tough as nails veteran firefighters, and the investigation of recent rash of fires/deaths that appear to be the work of a serial arsonist.

I find the portrayal of the villain as a sympathetic character whose purposeful motivations can easily be identified with to be interesting as it allows the remaining parts of the plot to continue to evolve without it taking center stage. Lastly I appreciate the poignant depiction of the trials/challenges faced by firemen as well as how the fire is seen as a living breathing character that is portrayed as the film's ultimate villain. Some may disagree but I like the selection of Kurt Russell in the role of Stephen. I have been a fan for years and always find him to be devoted to his craft and engaging to watch. In my opinion his performance carries Williams Baldwin's and capably offsets the less focal roles played by Rebecca De Mornay and Scott Glenn. The cadre of character actors that play the members of the fire department are equally deserving of praise as are the late J.T. Walsh and my man Donald Sutherland who absolutely nails the quirky and strange pyromaniac Ronald. Robert De Niro in the role of Shadow has never really done much for me and the needless addition of a romantic interest for Brian turned out to be a waste of Jennifer Jason Leigh's talent. Prior to Backdraft I had seen several of Ron Howard's films and found them enjoyable enough (Splash and Cocoon come to mind) but none resonated with me like it did. He is now an accomplished director with a proven track record. I tend to gravitate to his films and do enjoy them but there have only been a couple that have proved as effecting and entertaining. Backdraft isn't a perfect film but it is a personal favorite that will always have a place in my video collection.



Parental Guide:

The rating is for language, graphic images, thematic elements and a scene of sensuality.






AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**


(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

Audio: 90



  • Dynamics: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373699

  • Low frequency extension: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373699

  • Surround Sound presentation: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373699

  • Clarity/Detail: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373699

  • Dialogue Reproduction: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373699


Video: 86


(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)


  • Resolution/Clarity: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Black level/Shadow detail: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Color reproduction: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373692

  • Fleshtones: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373692

  • Compression: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373692

Backdraft comes to Blu-ray Disc from Universal Studios HE featuring 1080p VC-1 encoded video that has an average bitrate of 29 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 4.1 Mbps.

In comparing this high definition encoding to the HD DVD release it appears to be minted from the same master which results in a very decent viewing experience. It boasts refining detail and crisp definition that reveals plenty of fine minutia, and textural nuance during close-ups. Depth and dimension is respectable during mid level and wide angle camera pans. Colors are rich and vibrant, with vivid primaries (especially reds) that can be eye catching without appearing unnatural. Fleshtones follow suit and appear lilfelike and delineated. Blacks and white levels are well balanced which enlivens bright onscreen elements and provides defining contrast to mixed light/dark content. Shadow detail is good but not definitively resolvable which leaves some darker scenes feeling less dimensional. I noticed during some scenes with objects against light backgrounds that the video has an slightly edgy (artificial) quality. I didn't see any overt signs of ringing but think that it was worth mentioning. Debris/speckles are visible on the print from time to time I didnt find it distracting. Grain is present with little to no signs of unwanted digital manipulation. As with the original high definition release of Backdraft this isn't a pristine quality rendering however overall quality is excellent and this film has never looked better on home video.

This is a very good soundtrack on HD DVD which is limited to a lossy Dolby Digital Plus audio mix. This high resolution DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack takes this audio presentation to the next level. This is a fairly aggressive and aurally engaging sound design that drives the story through use of beautifully orchestrated music, forceful dynamics and high level sonic detail. The mix generates an enriching surround experience which provides excellent spectral balance and 360 degree envelopment. LFE is strong and while it never achieves sub bass frequencies, it reaches into every corner of the room with authoritative depth. Dialogue is reproduced with exacting clarity and excellent room penetration. Comparing this to the HD DVD I found that this is clearly an improvement as it offers better refinement, richer dynamics and more involving dimension. Impressive.



Bonus Features:


  • Ron Howards introduction - 3 minutes

  • Deleted scenes - 43 minutes

  • Igniting the story - 15 minute featurette

  • Bringing together the team - 19 minute featurette

  • The explosive stunts - 14 minute featurette

  • Creating the villain: The fire - 12 minute featurette

  • Real-life firemen, real-life stories - 9 minutes

  • Theatrical trailers

  • My Scenes bookmark feature

  • Pocket Blu - App for iPOD/iPHONE

  • U-Control

  • D-Box Motion Code enabled




Final Thoughts:

Backdraft is pure entertainment to be sure but it's the poignancy of its subject matter and the human condition it conveys that makes it a worthwhile film experience. I revel in the stalwart performances of its cast, the depth of its special effects and the flawed but rewarding nature of its clichéd script. It makes its debut on Blu-ray from Universal Studios Home Entertainment featuring excellent high definition video quality and superb DTS-HD Master Audio surround sound that is sure to get the attention of home theater buffs. The bonus features from the 2006 anniversary edition and HD DVD release are ported over here and offer plenty of interest for fans of the film. Backdraft is a personal favorite that will always have a place in my video collection. Recommended.









attachment.php?attachmentid=109949&d=1210373731






Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews





Reference Review System:


JVC DLA-RS50 3D Ready 1080p High Definition Front Projector
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100 16x9 Screen
Anthem AVM50v THX Ultra 2 Preamp/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo BDP-83 Universal disc/Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Samsung BD-C7900 Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule HD Universal Remote Control
Canton "Ergo" Series speakers
Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers
SV Sound PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
APC AV S15BLK Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Furman SPR-20i Stable Power Regulator
Wireworld, VizionWare, Audioquest, Better Cables, Best Deal Cables - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package

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post #2 of 13 Old 01-02-2011, 01:51 PM
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Wasn't this one of the first titles released on Laserdisc? Maybe it was just the 1st one I happened to get. Still has some of the best fire FX ever done.
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post #3 of 13 Old 01-02-2011, 02:22 PM
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Backdraft has been a favorite of mine since I first saw it years ago.
It's one of those movies that just grabbed me.
I'm also a fan of Kurt Russel, as he always manages to make me believe he is what he's portraying.
I have it on HD-DVD. PQ and SQ on the HD-DVD are excellent.
However, I will be buying the Blu Ray simply because of the DTS-HD Master audio.
That's how much I like it.

Thanks for another rewarding review, Ralph.
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post #4 of 13 Old 01-02-2011, 02:39 PM
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I recall seeing the trailer for this constantly on TV when it was first being realest, I simply thought it was lacking in story line. Now I'm curios of seen it, and just give it a go on Blu Ray.

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post #5 of 13 Old 01-02-2011, 02:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rdgrimes View Post

Wasn't this one of the first titles released on Laserdisc? Maybe it was just the 1st one I happened to get. Still has some of the best fire FX ever done.

I believe it was Jaws, about a decade before this film came out.

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post #6 of 13 Old 01-02-2011, 04:11 PM
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Thanks for the review Ralph.

A little history, the TV show "Emergency" heightened the awareness of the fire service more than anything before it. "Backdraft" hurt the fire service more than anything before it.

Over 100 years of building up the reputation of the fire service and one movie did terrible harm to it. We don't do anything of those things shown. People had come up to and ask, "You do those things while on the job?" It was like what the fire service might have been before the turn of the century...nothing like the latter part of this century. That's why it's not in my collection and the fact that it's not sci-fi/horror.

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post #7 of 13 Old 01-02-2011, 09:50 PM
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Got this movie on HD-DVD and based upon this review, see no reason to get a blu-ray copy

Strong or weak in the end we are all dead
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post #8 of 13 Old 01-03-2011, 01:25 AM
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Yeah, I was going to ask if the Lossless audio alone was worth it. Guess not.

"Unplugging the signal cable is pretty much the ultimate in component isolation. Now if you removed the AC power and it still did it you should look for the little blond girl saying "they're he-re."
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post #9 of 13 Old 01-03-2011, 02:04 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by atledreier View Post

Yeah, I was going to ask if the Lossless audio alone was worth it. Guess not.

Greetings,

That depends on how important the improvement in sound quality is to you. As I noted in my review, there is a discernible difference.

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post #10 of 13 Old 01-03-2011, 08:35 AM
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This is definitely an all time great movie classic. Although i got sick of it playing it everday for weeks since it was a demo movie at a retail store i worked at back in the days. Rebecca De Mornay =

Cheers
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post #11 of 13 Old 01-03-2011, 09:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by inspector View Post
Thanks for the review Ralph.

A little history, the TV show "Emergency" heightened the awareness of the fire service more than anything before it. "Backdraft" hurt the fire service more than anything before it.

Over 100 years of building up the reputation of the fire service and one movie did terrible harm to it. We don't do anything of those things shown. People had come up to and ask, "You do those things while on the job?" It was like what the fire service might have been before the turn of the century...nothing like the latter part of this century. That's why it's not in my collection and the fact that it's not sci-fi/horror.
My father, now a retired Syracuse firefighter, along with a group of fellow firemen, was interviewed by the local news when Backdraft was released in theaters to discuss some of the scenes portrayed in the movie (i.e. entering a fire without your oxygen tank and mask on). They tore this movie apart for its unrealistic portrayal of the firefighting profession, but that didn't stop us from enjoying the film from an entertainment perspective. It was, and remains to this day, one of our favorite movies to watch together (along with Tombstone, ironically another film starring Kurt Russell).

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post #12 of 13 Old 01-04-2011, 11:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ralph Potts View Post

Greetings,

That depends on how important the improvement in sound quality is to you. As I noted in my review, there is a discernible difference.

Regards,

with the average consumer setup, you are going to be hard pressed to really be able to tell the difference......

I have lots of movies on HD-DVD and Blu-ray and I cannot tell any difference in sound quality........so to go out and rebuy a movie just because it came out on Blu-ray and some reviewer states noticable improvement in SQ.......yeah maybe if I spend like $10K on a receiver and speakers....

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post #13 of 13 Old 01-05-2011, 01:44 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by YeuEmMaiMai View Post

with the average consumer setup, you are going to be hard pressed to really be able to tell the difference......

I have lots of movies on HD-DVD and Blu-ray and I cannot tell any difference in sound quality........so to go out and rebuy a movie just because it came out on Blu-ray and some reviewer states noticable improvement in SQ.......yeah maybe if I spend like $10K on a receiver and speakers....

Greetings,

Hence my reply to the original question. Obviously in your case this wouldn't qualify but thanks for letting us know.

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