A few words about…™ Backdraft — in 4k UHD Blu-ray

Ron Howard's 1991 epic of firefighters on the front lines, has received a 4k upgrade, and the results are beautiful. 4 Stars

Ron Howard’s 1991 epic of firefighters on the front lines, has received a 4k upgrade, and the results are beautiful. HDR works nicely, while the proscenium has been given a bit of height via DTS-X.

A quality thriller that nicely stands the test of time.

Not going for dark humor here, or the concept of life imitating art, but I believe that the studio had to reach out for a reference print, as theirs had been lost.

In the 2008 fire, that destroyed much of the print library.

Image – 5 (HDR10)

Audio – 5 (DTS-X)

Pass / Fail – Pass

Upgrade from Blu-ray – Yes

Recommended

RAH

Published by

Robert Harris

editor,member

30 Comments

  1. Robert Harris

    n the 2008 fire, that destroyed much of the print library.

    That supports my theory. I suspect Universal made all new prints since the fire because every Universal 35mm print I've seen since has been beautiful and new.

  2. This movie did more damage to the fire service than any movie ever made. EMERGENCY on TV awakened the populace of what the fire service was about and did.

    It took years to live down the BS that was portrayed in that movie…NOTHING, and I mean NOTHING, was accurate that was shown during that movie…what a disservice to firefighters everywhere!!!

  3. John Sparks

    This movie did more damage to the fire service than any movie ever made. EMERGENCY on TV awakened the populace of what the fire service was about and did.

    It took years to live down the BS that was portrayed in that movie…NOTHING, and I mean NOTHING, was accurate that was shown during that movie…what a disservice to firefighters everywhere…and I worked with the greatest fire department in the world during that time…the LAFD!!!

    I can't speak, like you, from experience, but I disliked this movie intensely. I saw it when new and I can't remember why I reacted so negatively toward it–maybe the story, the acting, the direction: everything…But I never had the desire to revisit the film again.

  4. John Sparks

    This movie did more damage to the fire service than any movie ever made. EMERGENCY on TV awakened the populace of what the fire service was about and did.

    It took years to live down the BS that was portrayed in that movie…NOTHING, and I mean NOTHING, was accurate that was shown during that movie…what a disservice to firefighters everywhere…and I worked with the greatest fire department in the world during that time…the LAFD!!!

    A close friend of mine is a long time firefighter, and he feels similar to you regarding this film.

  5. As a now-retired firefighter, this movie is full of laughs. I can understand the filmmaker’s thought about showing faces throughout, but there’s so many safety violations in this film. There’s not a chance a firefighter would not wear a breathing apparatus in a smoke-filled building…unless of course they want to be part of the rescue in the wrong sort of way!

  6. So, I'm the LAFD Uniformed Fire Safety Officer during a SFX movie in LA some place a short time after that movie. The SFX person that I reported to was the physical effects person during BACDRAFT.

    He told me that it took a little over a week to flip that fire engine in that one scene. Well, I told him the story of how a small Honda flipped over a 25 ton LAFD fire engine.

    The fire engine had just started to take off from a signal, had just entered the intersection, when it was semi t-boned. The Honda was driven by a young person (DIED) that was traveling over 100 MPH. When he hit the fire engine. he hit it just in front of the rear duals. This impact caused the other side dual tires to go underneath the rim of the tire which caused the fire engine to lose its 4 point contact with the ground to "skid and flip onto its roof…150' FROM POINT OF IMPACT!!!

    All the firefighters were okay except for the engineer (driver). He suffered a head injury from hitting his head on the sharp edge of the ceiling of the cab (corrected on later rigs). The other firefighters were uninjured because they were strapped in. If they had been in an open cab from years past, they might have perished.

    Our maintenance department was able to restore that engine back to its factory specs at a cost of 1/3 of it's original cost!

  7. Before this thread goes into tense comparison between BackDraft vs Ladder49 on the story of the genre and how it reflects in real life… We need to look at BackDraft(so as Ladder49) as "HollyWood BlockBuster" product. Where dramatization,exaggeration, creation are the 3 elements in movie making such that whatever product comes out and screen on cinemas worldwide, will determine the life and death of either a career or organization/studio.

    The key focus of BackDraft plot to the audience, special effects, pyrotechnics, close to ear sound, sibling rivalry…with a certain level of suspense. And that's it. 3 sensual experience vs 2 others that more to thoughts.
    Sensual Experience wins.

  8. No offense to the real firefighters in this thread but I enjoy Backdraft as big budget entertainment and not a documentary on real Firefighting.

    I’m that regard I think it succeeds.

  9. John Sparks

    This movie did more damage to the fire service than any movie ever made…and I worked with the greatest fire department in the world during that time…the LAFD!!!

    I have donned the full gear of your profession. The flash hoods, masks, oxygen tanks, fire suits and boots; heavy, heavy, heavy and also very hot and cumbersome to move in. Then came the smoke-house and hoses. Visibility zero. And when one is knee-deep on the inside, then God help anyone whose mask does not have a properly fitted seal. Very real stuff but, nonetheless, merely an eye-opening exercise of many days. With humbled appreciation, John, I want to thank you for your service.

  10. Tino

    No offense to the real firefighters in this thread but I enjoy Backdraft as big budget entertainment and not a documentary on real Firefighting.

    I’m that regard I think it succeeds.

    Yeah, I don't think it was ever intended to be a documentary. My uncle was a firefighter and he enjoyed it at the time.

  11. Tino

    No offense to the real firefighters in this thread but I enjoy Backdraft as big budget entertainment and not a documentary on real Firefighting.

    I’m that regard I think it succeeds.

    Not a firefighter. Even as dumb escapist entertainment, I've always found this movie to be pretty poor.

  12. Thank you so much for the review Robert as your reviews are always appreciated. I will be picking up this release on 4K disc as the last time I purchase this movie was on laserdisc. I am no longer against getting content via digital but still want more content on disc. Especially after having a small issue with iTunes that I will correct once I get paid.

  13. Well this is embarrassing, rofl. Looking through my library to see what I was going to watch and I guess laserdisc was not the last time I purchased Backdraft, LOL. Turns out I actually purchased this movie on 1080 HD-DVD.

  14. No offense to those in the fire-fighting profession, but Backdraft is one of my favorites from the 1990’s. Never took it for ‘fact-based’ how-to fight a fire. It’s a story of family succession, sibling rivalry, and ultimately, the redemption of two brothers who carried a life-long grudge, almost to the point of no return. Has a great cast giving great performances, some amazing special effects, and a good solid mystery at its core. Everyone involved did their utmost to make ‘an entertainment’. If I want a documentary on fire-fighting I’ll watch one, thanks. If I want to be told a good yarn I’ll take Backdraft – hands down – over Ladder 49 or any of the other ‘fire-themed’ fluff that’s gone after it. Just an opinion. And, just in case – went to see it with two friends when it originally came out theatrically – one who was a fireman, the other whose father and brother were firemen. Neither complained. In fact we enjoyed it, and the capping off a great evening at the show with pizza and talk at an adjacent restaurant. Wouldn’t trade that experience for anything. Apologies to those who think it’s crap. But it isn’t. It’s fantasy and drama and damn good at both those aspirations. Want reality – look out any window.

  15. No offense to those in the fire-fighting profession, but Backdraft is one of my favorites from the 1990's. Never took it for 'fact-based' how-to fight a fire. It's a story of family succession, sibling rivalry, and ultimately, the redemption of two brothers who carried a life-long grudge, almost to the point of no return. Has a great cast giving great performances, some amazing special effects, and a good solid mystery at its core. Everyone involved did their utmost to make 'an entertainment'.

    If I want a documentary on fire-fighting I'll watch one, thanks.

    If I want to be told a good yarn I'll take Backdraft – hands down – over Ladder 49 or any of the other 'fire-themed' fluff that's gone after it. Just an opinion.

    And, just in case – went to see it with two friends when it originally came out theatrically – one who was a fireman, the other whose father and brother were firemen. Neither complained. In fact we all enjoyed it, and the capping off of a great evening at the show with pizza and talk at an adjacent restaurant made for a memorable night. Thank you, Ron Howard! Wouldn't trade that experience for anything.

    Apologies to those who think it's crap. But it isn't. It's fantasy and drama and damn good at both those aspirations. Want reality – look out any window.

  16. Tino

    What does that mean?

    This, to me, suggests an insiders humor and respectful rivalry between two groups who were active participants within their field; no different than those who played for the Lakers vs. those who played for the Celtics.

  17. PMF

    This, to me, suggests an insiders humor and respectful rivalry between two groups who were active participants within their field; no different than those who played for the Lakers vs. those who played for the Celtics.

    Perhaps. Without clarification I don’t know what he meant. I just hope it wasn’t a knock of any kind against the brave NYFD.

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