year: 1991
cast: Kurt Russell, William Baldwin, Robert De Niro
director: Ron Howard
normal movie rating: *
bad movie rating: ****

Ron Howard, former child-star turned overrated film director, throws anything and everything into the pot and ends up creating the worst "blockbuster" ever made, and grandiosely so. While focusing on the lives of two brothers, seasoned fireman Kurt Russell and new-recruit William Baldwin, who lost their firefighting dad years before in an, um, fire, the story really centers on a succession of explosions that kill seemingly random victims like something from a horror movie. There are good guys and bad guys; the good guys are blue collar, the bad guys wear suits (the same as the producers of this movie, most likely). Kurt Russell's acting is so hammy it's hilarious, and every shot of William Baldwin screams: "Aren't I a cutie pie?" Scott Glenn, J.T. Walsh, Rebecca DeMorney and Jennifer Jason Leigh collect a paycheck. Robert DeNiro, as a Merlin-like arson investigator trying to "out think" the fire - treated as a living/breathing vengeful entity - gives Russell a run in the bad acting department, trumped only by Donald Sutherland as a deranged yet helpful incarcerated arsonist (liken to Hannibal Lecter). But it's Ron Howard - attempting to turn every frame into something that'd awe opening night audiences everywhere - who really deserves the blame. Although in making a completely over-the-top disaster, he does succeed, splendidly.

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