Backdraft: Ron Howard Heroic Tale of Firefighters

Universal (Brian Grazer production)

“Backdraft,” a feature about heroic firefighters with some good special effects, is a typical Ron Howard, a melodrama that’s hampered by his middlebrow sensibility.

At heart, “Backdraft” is an old-fashioned and sentimental family tale. After their father died in a fire, brothers William Baldwin and Kurt Russell went their separate ways. Soon, however, Baldwin is back, determined to join his brother as a firefighter, and we witness how their sibling rivalry may be thicker than blood.

The film boasts a good cast, with Robert De Niro as an arson inspector and Donald Sutherland as arsonist, plus Scott Glenn and Jennifer Jason Leigh in secondary roles. However, neither the actors nor the director can lift the saga very far above the clichs and predictable outcome of the script.

Even so, the special effects crew creates some of the most exciting fires ever seen on the big screen, which they were Oscar-nominated (See below).

Unfortunately for Howard, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s vehicle, “Terminator 2: Judgment Day,” directed by techno maestro James Cameron, had even more spectacular special effects and swept the Oscars in those categories.

Oscar Nomination: 3

Sound: Gary Summers, Randy Thom, Gary Rydstrom, Glenn Williams
Visual Effects: Mikael Salomon, Allen Hall, Clay Pinney, Scott Farrar
Sound Effects Editing: Gary Rydstrom, Richard Hymns