Kurt Russell Weekend – Backdraft (1991)

Director: Ron Howard

Writer: Gregory Widen (Screenplay)

Starring: Kurt Russell, William Baldwin, Robert De Niro, Donald Sutherland, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Scott Glen, Rebecca De Mornay

 

Plot: Two Chicago firefighter brothers who don’t get along must work together while a dangerous arsonist is on the loose.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Too Slow

 

Story: Backdraft starts when a young Brian McCaffrey witness his firefighter father killed putting out the fire. 20 years later Brian (Baldwin) is desperate to follow in his father’s footsteps much like his brother Stephen (Russell). Passing his tests Brian joins Stephen’s unit, the strictest in town.

As the number of fires increase, the number of firefighters are being cut and with each fire brings the investigator Donald Rimgale (De Niro) who uses slow methods but gets results. When Brian becomes worried about the safety of his brother’s actions he agrees to work with Donald to track down an arsonist operating within the city.

 

Thoughts on Backdraft

 

Characters/PerformanceStephen is the tough firefighter who enjoys the job knowing he and his team can save as many lives as possible. Brian is the brother of Stephen, son of a firefighter who became the photo of a generation after witnessing his father’s death at a young age. He wants to follow in his father’s footsteps but finds himself having to turn on his brother to investigate arson rather than fight the fires. Donald is a grizzled veteran who has seen the worst in fighting fire, he now leads the investigations into the fires, he works with Brian to locate the arsonist and reckless behaviour being portrayed by the firefighters. The rest of the characters fill the loyal unit, the ex-wife and potential lover without being a major part in the film.

Performance wise, Russell is solid but never reaches the levels we know he can. Baldwin just doesn’t capture the level of performance you would see from other members of the family while De Niro is good in the supporting role.

StoryThe story shows the life of firefighters struggling with the demands placed upon them by dwindling resources, the lives get put at risk. We get to see the investigation into an arsonist but sadly this isn’t the focus of the story. the focus is on the broken relationship between the two brothers who have gone in different paths when it comes to following in their father’s footsteps. The story is fine but too long in my opinion.

Action/Crime/MysteryThe firefighting scenes are brilliant action set pieces without a doubt but the crime side which should be a major side just doesn’t get the focus required. The mystery also suffers because of this too.

SettingsThe settings are used wonderfully to show the intensity of the fires for the firefighters while outside the fires it just feels like a normal city which could be any.

Special EffectsThe special effects are stunning for the creating of the fires, using mostly practical effects which still look amazing today.

Final ThoughtsThe special effects in this movie do save it from being awful but in the end the story is just too flat for my liking.

 

Overall: Flat story, too long but amazing effects.

Rating

 

 

Advertisements

ABC Film Challenge – Random – Q – The Quiet Hour (2014)

Director: Stephanie Joalland

Writer: Stephanie Joalland (Screenplay)

Starring: Dakota Blue Richards, Jack McMullen, Karl Davies, James Browne, Brigitte Millar

 

Plot: In the aftermath of an alien invasion, a feisty teenage girl sets out to protect her farm from human scavengers who will stop at nothing in order to survive in a post-apocalyptic world.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Promising Sci-Fi

 

Story: The Quiet Hour starts in a world invaded by an alien force that constantly drill, well apart from two hours a day, the only hours the remaining humans can be active. Sarah (Richards) lives in her family farm with her blind brother Tom (McMullen) just keeping to themselves through the invasion.

When a stranger Jude (Davies) arrives in their home, he is injured but also being tracked by a group of savages who are hunting him down looking to take advantage of anything to survive for themselves. Sarah must make the difficult decisions to defend her farm from the human enemy, deciding on who to trust.

 

Thoughts on The Quiet Hour

 

Characters/PerformanceSarah is the feisty teenager waiting out an alien invasion with her brother, she is in control of everything within the house and knows how to stay safe, she must break her rules to survive though. Tom is the innocent brother that is blind living with Sarah, he has a skill for music but at times can hold Sarah back. Jude is the mysterious stranger claiming to be a reporter that Sarah takes in but we are never sure what to think of his motives in this film.

Performance wise, Dakota is good in the leading role as we see how she has grown up since her debut in The Golden Compass. Jack and Karl both give solid supporting performances without being brilliant, but it would be fair to say the performances reflect the films environment.

StoryThis is a good way to bring us a sci-fi thriller by doing something slightly different with the ‘they won the invasion’ angle. It all runs at a slow pace but that is because the film doesn’t want to focus on the alien invaders but instead focus on the human survival with the invasion going on. I do think it all works without being the most engrossing film you will see.

Sci-Fi/ThrillerThe world has been taken over by an unknown alien presence, humans hide to survive, this all sounds sci-fi enough for me. The thrilling side of the film comes from us wondering if the siblings can make it out alive.

SettingsThe film is mostly set within the small farm house which shows us the isolation our characters have created away from the problems in this world.

Special EffectsThe special effects are only used when needed and that is to look at how invaders are operating from a distance.

Final ThoughtsThis is a really promising idea for a film, it hits on many marks but just feels like it needed a couple more pieces to click together for something great.

 

Overall: Sci-fi fans give this a try.

Rating