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  Directed by
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  Specs
  • Widescreen 2.35:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer ( )
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • French: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • German: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Italian: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  Subtitles
    English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Dutch, English - Hearing Impaired, Italian - Hearing Impaired, Swedish, German - Hearing Impaired, French - Hearing Impaired, Spanish - Hearing Impaired
  Extras

    Firestorm

    20th Century Fox/20th Century Fox Home Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 85 mins . M15+ . PAL

      Feature
    Contract

    I remember this film hitting cinemas in 1998 and hitting the pavement outside about ten minutes later before laying low for a while. Six years, as it turns out. In this time, a mere twinkling in the age of the universe, computer animation has come a long, long way. And what remains in this film is a good time capsule for The Quality of Special Effects in 1998.

    Is it a good premise for a film? The brave men and women who ‘smokejump’ into burning forest fires to fight them from within? Sure. We can do a film about that. However, in the wisdom of Hollywood producers and executives, they always need to add a prison break and a stranded woman to spice things up a bit. Fire just isn’t enough on its own. Humankind’s oldest foe needs a sassy survivalist with a quick retort to cut it these days. Oh, plus the buffed up muscleheaded hero who will do anything to fight fires.

    Then let’s stick in a bunch of highly unlikely situations, a mob of felons we couldn’t care less about to kill in new and exotic ways and a thin series of stunts and worried onlookers and we got ourselves movie gold! Unfortunately, the story is packed with no name stars who have trouble acting, the plot is so thin as to have newsprint legible through it and the ending is so predictable as to have you believing you can tell what colour underwear your next door neighbour is wearing. (I even tried that. My guess was a slinky red lace G-string, but he showed us and it was decaying grey Lycra with the elastic gone.)

    So here it is. Hero of the piece has torch passed to him by old worshipped captain who can’t smokejump anymore. Right about that time, a big fire gets started as cover for escaping crooks from nearby penitentiary. Realising they’ve taken a captive in some bird watching woman with survival training, our hero smokejumps and so begins a suspension of disbelief as he slowly whittles the baddies down and rescues the ornitholigist. Oh and the fire gets out of control, requiring the retired captain to smokejump one last time. Roll credits.

    "We won’t be seeing them again…"

    Scott Glenn has obviously been hired for his previous fire work in Silence of the Lambs, and new boy Howie Long (who is a hybrid between Arnie and Dolph Lundgren) utters many lines like that big print quote above (ironically, it seems he was referring to himself). It’s thin on plot, thin on special effects and especially thin on the wirework. If this doesn’t raise a giggle when we see Howie diving out of a plane or BASE jumping off a cliff on a motorbike, I don’t know what will. My recommendation here is rent first if anything. It’s a brainless film for a Friday night and maybe worth a rent if you’re in the mood to pick on something, otherwise fly right by and land in the cool, cool lake.

      Video
    Contract

    The opening sequence inside the airplane begins a short list of troubles on this disc. Here the shadows and colours are blotchy and scuffed and look shithouse. There are some film artefacts around about, but nothing criminal and they might even be seen as flakes of black soot. Maybe. Otherwise everything looks fairly nice here with plenty of good colour saturation, nice even flesh tones and natural blacks. The limited shadow detail isn’t the best, but is marginally better than average.

    Here too, we get the full cinematic aspect ratio of 2.35:1 with 16:9 anamorphic enhancement. This gives full vision to some of the awesome backgrounds of forests aflame and is certainly a highlight among the droll storytelling. Lastly, the layer change scoots by without a visual hitch, but there's a distinct pause in the audio.

      Audio
    Contract

    Get ready to rumble with some fully immersive Dolby Surround 5.1 audio. Here we are fully within the forest with crackling flames and exploding trees on every side for most of the picture. The subwoofer rarely stops to get a breath and all surrounds work in delicious harmony with the centre speaker delivering the majority of the dialogue. It’s just unfortunate the dialogue is so rubbish. Too many cheesy lines and poorly delivered comebacks fill the film out and with luck, you too will be able to tune them out by film’s end.

    The music by J. Peter Robinson is what we would expect of an all out action blockbuster. Hopefully they’ll be able to use it when one comes along. It’s full of rousing action moments but too many over-dramatic crescendos for pedestrian events. Oh well.

      Extras
    Contract

    Err… surprisingly no. No burned out cars, no charred stumps and no blackened buildings scorched by the raging inferno. Sorry, just went all ‘journalese’ there. Nada.

      Overall  
    Contract

    Firestorm is not a great film by any means, but it has some moments of interest. As a lame action film, the budget has obviously been well spent to bring some fairly cool stunts to the screen, but there are also some lacking moments of digital chicanery that will leave you with a faint bemused smirk on your mug. Oh well. As I said, it’s a total BDAF (Big Dumb Action Film) by our DVDnet ratings book and worth a rent maybe, but I’d do that before committing to purchase.

    It’s just not so red hot.


  • LINK: http://www.dvd.net.au/review.cgi?review_id=3652
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      And I quote...
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    - Jules Faber
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
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    • TV:
          Sony 51cm
    • Speakers:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Centre Speaker:
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    • Surrounds:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Subwoofer:
          Akai
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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