The Ron Howard Spotlight Collection (Backdraft / Apollo 13 / A Beautiful Mind / Cinderella Man)
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A somewhat contrived screenplay doesn't stop this thriller from serving up some of the most spectacular fire sequences ever committed to film. Like any Ron Howard production Backdraft is impressively slick and boasts a stellar cast, including Kurt Russell and William Baldwin. The actors play sibling rivals who have been at odds since the death of their firefighter father years earlier. Robert De Niro is the veteran fire inspector who is tracking a series of mysterious and deadly arsons, and Donald Sutherland is effectively creepy as the former arsonist who understands the criminal psychology of pyromaniacs. Rebecca De Mornay, Scott Glenn, and Jennifer Jason Leigh are featured in supporting roles. Backdraft is a triumph of stunt work and flaming special effects. --Jeff Shannon
NASA's worst nightmare turned into one of the space agency's most heroic moments in 1970, when the Apollo 13 crew was forced to hobble home in a disabled capsule after an explosion seriously damaged the moon-bound spacecraft. Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon, and Bill Paxton play (respectively) astronauts Jim Lovell, Jack Swigert, and Fred Haise in director Ron Howard's intense, painstakingly authentic docudrama. The Apollo 13 crew and Houston-based mission controllers race against time and heavy odds to return the damaged spacecraft safely to Earth from a distance of 205,500 miles. Using state-of-the-art special effects and ingenious filmmaking techniques, Howard and his stellar cast and crew build nail-biting tension while maintaining close fidelity to the facts. The result is a fitting tribute to the Apollo 13 mission and one of the biggest box-office hits of 1995. --Jeff Shannon
A Beautiful Mind
A Beautiful Mind manages to twist enough pathos out of John Nash's incredible life story to redeem an at-times goofy portrayal of schizophrenia. Russell Crowe tackles the role with characteristic fervor, playing the Nobel prize-winning mathematician from his days at Princeton, where he developed a groundbreaking economic theory, to his meteoric rise to the cover of Forbes magazine and an MIT professorship, and on through to his eventual dismissal due to schizophrenic delusions. Of course, it is the delusions that fascinate director Ron Howard and, predictably, go astray. Nash's other world, populated as it is by a maniacal Department of Defense agent (Ed Harris), an imagined college roommate who seems straight out of Dead Poets Society, and an orphaned girl, is so fluid and scriptlike as to make the viewer wonder if schizophrenia is really as slick as depicted. Crowe's physical intensity drags us along as he works admirably to carry the film on his considerable shoulders. No doubt the story of Nash's amazing will to recover his life without the aid of medication is a worthy one, his eventual triumph heartening. Unfortunately, Howard's flashy style is unable to convey much of it. --Fionn Meade
Cinderella Man is a wholesome slice of old-fashioned Americana, offering welcomed relief from the shallowness of many summer blockbusters. In dramatizing the legendary Depression-era comeback of impoverished boxer Jim Braddock, director Ron Howard benefits from another superb collaboration with his A Beautiful Mind star Russell Crowe, whose portrayal of Braddock is simultaneously warm, noble, and tenacious without resorting to even the slightest hint of sentimental melodrama. The desperate struggle of the Depression is more keenly felt here than it was in Seabiscuit, and Howard shows its economic impact in ways that strengthen the bonds between Braddock, his supportive wife (Renée Zellweger) and three young children, and his loyal manager (Paul Giamatti); all are forced to make sacrifices leading up to Braddock's title bout against heavyweight champion Max Baer (Craig Bierko) in one of greatest boxing matches in the history of the sport. Boasting the finest production design, cinematography and editing that Hollywood can offer, this is a feel-good film that never begs for your affection; it's just good, classical American filmmaking, brimming with qualities of decency and fortitude that have grown all too rare in the big-studio mainstream. --Jeff Shannon
Top Customer Reviews
"Backdraft" is a fairly routine story about two feuding firefighter brothers (Kurt Russell, William Baldwin) who have to set aside their personal differences in order to survive the infernos set by a maniacal arsonist. Fire is the real star, with spectacularly staged sequences that look incredibly dangerous. Drama-wise, the movie is a familiar reworking of a classic plot and offers few surprises.
"Apollo 13" is riveting drama with the all-star cast of Tom Hanks, Bill Paxton, Kevin Bacon, Gary Sinise, and Ed Harris. Here we have the true story of a space flight that would have ended in disaster were it not for the coordination of flight and ground crews to bring the astronauts back safely. In the confines of a claustrophobic space capsule, Howard manages to make a tale whose outcome is known, gripping.
"Cinderella Man," a fine movie that did poorly at the box office, takes place in Depression-era America. Down-and-out boxer Jim Braddock (Russell Crowe) has a young family but few prospects. Desperate, he accepts an offer to do battle with the reigning world heavyweight champ, proving himself a popular underdog and a champion of the common man.
The extra packs and special features are the type and quality normally found on 19.99+ original release editions.
The packaging of the group as a whole is far superior to normal multipacks containing double sided discs in a cheap plastic sleeve.
It makes an excellent gift pack for anyone who might enjoy these films.
Quality of acting is high, the production quality excellent and the special effects generally superb. There were a few less than realistic points in Backdraft but fire scenes are notoriously difficult to simulate.
The stories themselves are not my normal preference, but so well depicted that each movie draws the viewer along for the duration.
From a very personal viewpoint I'd rate the films overall as follows, out of 5 stars.
Apollo 13 *****
A beautifull mind *****
Cinderalla man *****
I never thought I'd rate a boxing movie as 5*, but it is so well executed from the sets through the acting to what appears a very realistic and detailed portrayal of the period that I discovered it to be enthralling in the way it tells a timeless tale.
Enjoy or gift, you or the recipient is unlikely to be disappointed.
The other movies were just a bonus, and I haven't watched them yet.
Overall the packaging is very nice, though a bit bigger than a normal DVD case so it sticks out a little bit on the shelf, which isn't a bad thing because it makes it easier to pick up.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The few I have watched were great, have not had time to enjoy the remaining movies in the set, but I am sure they are great.Published 11 months ago by Patty coulter
Nice Collection Of Film That I Mistakenly Purchased Thinking They Were Blu-Ray Version.Published 16 months ago by John Ford
Very glad I bought this. A great collection of some of Ron Howard's best!Published 16 months ago by Melissa Brown
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