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May 6, 2007
World Trade Center Blu-Ray - Movie Review
Cinema Release Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
9/8/200622/3/2007ParamountOliver Stone
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)
MPEG-2DD5.1 640kbpsMNic Cage

THE MOVIE
We all know what happened on September 11, 2001. It was a tragedy of epic proportions that had the world confused, upset and dismayed for weeks, if not years. When this movie, World Trade Center was first announced there was an outcry that it was too soon and Oliver Stone, a director who often 'sensationised' or picked the more controversial events, had people worried. Would he turn this into some form of conspiracy movie? Perhaps a political statement? Would it focus on the attackers and glorify the event in some twisted way. Well we can tell you that Oliver Stone has not done any such thing, but has created one of the most powerful, suspenseful and heartfelt movies of all time. In fact in years to come this could be seen as a historical document - especially given the lengths, and number of people used to ensure authenticity, during the development.

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Nic Cage as Sergeant John McLoughlin.
World Trade Center tells the true story of Will Jimeno and John McLoughlin, two Port Authority police officers who rushed into the burning World Trade Center on 9/11 to help rescue people, but became trapped themselves when the tower collapsed. A race against time ensued to free them before their air ran out.

Perhaps it's a little obvious what happens during the movie, but the way it is told will have you engrossed from start to end. The movie opens so serenely. Images of New York waking up to another glorious day. People going about their business, heading to work and so on. We all know what is about to happen but even as the planes approach the towers there is no glorification of the incident. Indeed all we see is a brief shadow of a plane on a nearby building, and then we hear the explosion. There's no CG impact, not even actual footage of the event. It's so powerful and brilliant.

Acting throughout the movie is superb. Nic Cage puts in an superb performance as Sergeant John McLoughlin while Michael Pe˝a as Will Jimeno is equally as impressive. The supporting cast, and in particular those that play the wives and families of loved ones waiting for news, all put in stellar performances. Indeed many of the actors and actresses spent time with their real-life counterparts to learn about the situations they faced.

I found this movie to be not only a riveting viewing experience, but also one which brings back the horror of that day - but in a way in which brought home the reality of the people caught in that horrible situation. Needless to say World Trade Center it is one of the most impressive, and emotional, movies I've seen in years.

VIDEO
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All actors give a brilliant performance.
Despite being encoded the MPEG-2 format (compared to the 'apparently' better VC-1) this dual layer 50GB disc is a stunning example of what the Blu-Ray format can offer. From the darkest blacks to the brightest colours everything looks natural but wonderful. Oliver Stone also had the colour radiate out from Ground Zero so it would become brighter and more colourful the further out from Ground Zero you were. Close in everything is almost Black and White while a few block out there is some colour from emergency lights, while at home the colours are rich and vibrant.

With much of the movie taking place in the rubble after the collapse there are a lot of dark scenes with dust and dirt covered characters. This darkness is often brightened by the occasional spot fire which has some brilliant orange colouring giving and ever present sense of danger.

AUDIO
Audio on this disc is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 at 640kbps. What really makes you appreciate this movie is the restraint that was used by Craig Armstrong when composing the music for this movie. The main theme is a very basic piano piece, but adds so much emotion to the movie. Mention must also be made of the special effects, especially during the tower collapses which captures (what we could only imagine) could be some of the horror of the actual event. I am really dying to hear some of these Blu-Ray movies with DTS-HD audio, but without receivers on the market until Q'3 2007 at the earliest this audio is more then adequate.

EXTRAS
The best part about these extras is that besides the commentaries and deleted scenes all the other extras are on a second 50GB Blu-Ray disc so as to not detract from the actual movie or take up valuable space. This is even more crucial given the length of the extras, and also the fact that most are presented in High-Definition as well! I much the same way that the movie looks such much better in HD, the same can be said of the extras and Paramount deserves to be given much credit.

Commentary with Oliver Stone:

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    Maggie Gyllenhaal puts on a fine performance.
    Oliver Stone is a filmmaker who puts everything into his movies and it's quite evident that World Trade Center was especially close to his heart - perhaps in part to he being a native New Yorker. This commentary with Oliver Stone covers much of the production including filming locations and difficulties and it's a very interesting listen.

Commentary Will Jimeno, Scott Strauss, John Busching and Paddy McGee:

    Listening to the actual survivor Will Jimeno as well as three of the rescuers just brings to life the reality of the story. Each has some interesting recollections of the events and how it has affected them and each certainly expands on the events in the movie. This is a great addition to this release and in future could server as a valuable first hand 'historic' document.

Deleted/Extended Scenes with optional commentary by Oliver Stone (17.42):

    A series of nine deleted scenes that add some to the storyline but for the most part only expand on current scenes in the movie. Oliver Stone's commentary details why they were cut out in the first place. These are only presented in Standard Definition with 192kbps audio.

The Making of World Trade Centre (53:42/HD):

    An absolutely brilliant look at just how much work went into the making of this movie from the earliest development through shooting and finally into the brilliant music score. I would go so far as to say that this documentary is right up there with the best we have seen on any DVD releases.

Common Sacrifice (54:31/HD):

    A brilliant documentary with interviews focused on John and Donna McLaughlin and Will and Allison Jimeno as they detail their experiences and their road to recovery. A fascinating insight into the pain and suffering which so many, including the survivors, endured.

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Oliver Stone and Nic Cage in discussion.

Building Ground Zero (25:11/HD):

    A fascinating documentary about what it took the filmmakers to recreate Ground Zero for the movie. Safety was paramount and the documentary goes into materials use for actor safety, and how to build up the correct levels accurately from Lidar Radar imaging of the site taken from the air after the collapses.

Visual and Special Effects (12:08/HD):

    A brilliant, but short, documentary which shows some of the special effects used in the movie - which were primarily to show New York pre-September 11, the towers after they were hit, and then the effect of the collapse. Another interesting piece, that could have been extended quite a bit more.

Oliver Stone's New York (24:31/HD):

    Oliver Stone was born and raised in New York and this documentary sees him taking us on a tour of the city. Not entirely related the movie, but it gives some insight into his love for the city, and why this movie is so special to him.

Q&A with Oliver Stone (12:33):

    Mark Kermode hosts a BAFTA event at which Oliver Stone answers several questions about making this movie. Interesting he mentions that too many movies are 'politicised' these days which is a comment many have labeled at his own movies. This is presented in 4:3 Standard Definition.

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Trapped under the World Trade Center.
Theatrical Trailer (2:32/HD):

    The theatrical trailer for the movie in High-Definition.

TV Spots (3:11):

    A series of TV Spots used to promote the movie presented in Standard Definition.

Photo Gallery:

    A series of around 50 still images showing various scenes from the production of the movie. While most are obvious I would love to see some facts on many of the images including locations, or the people in the shots.

OVERALL
Released in cinemas only five years after the tragedy that reshaped our world World Trade Center is certainly a movie that is going to divide people. Is it 'too soon' to experience such an emotional movie? For me, no it's not. Releasing this movie now 'documents' the experiences of the survivors while it is still fresh in their minds. Fortunately Oliver Stone has treated the subject with utmost dignity and respect and the end result was one of the best movies we've seen for quite some time.

With two discs in the set Paramount has been able to concentrate on delivering the best audio and video experience for the feature movie, and with most of the superb extras also in High Definition this is a new benchmark in quality. Yes, this set is expensive however it is the finest example of what the Blu-Ray format can produce to date. Stunning.

Review By: Dave Warner

THE MOVIE
8.5/10
THE VIDEO
9/10
THE AUDIO
9/10
THE EXTRAS
9/10
OVERALL
9/10

Note: All images in this article are Copyrightę Paramount. They are only indicative of the movie and not sourced from the vastly superior Blu-Ray disc format.