Saving the White Rabbit
Sitting underneath a stock disaster movie formula, complete with a school bus full of kids, a divorcing couple pulled back into their relationship because of tragedy, and thick melodrama, Fire at least warns about the importance of living in the moment. Fire’s unexpected casualties leave characters in a state of mourning as much as regret – they had a chance and missed it.
Everything else remains unremarkable, bland, and routine. Convicts start a fire to aid their potential escape, that begins engulfing a nearby forest, and of course this puts Fire’s starring cast in danger. Made for TV – producer Irwin Allen’s second go-round in this format – Fire feels and looks as such, although the danger here is more convincing (and consistent) than in Allen’s previous TV offering Flood.
Co-stars Ernest Borgnine and Alex Cord reunited a few years after Fire for the series Airwolf, although it’s Borgnine carrying this disaster film; Cord’s exaggerated emotion as he separates from his wife (Patty Duke) push that storyline into soap opera territory. Vera Miles plays her part as a lodge owner fine, and Erik Estrada’s bit as a prisoner making amends pushes him toward an obvious happy ending.
Fire doesn’t have the typical broken leadership cliché – everyone agrees to help, no one denies the problem, and focus stays entirely on getting away or putting out the hazard. Aside from stock footage and a few floaty composites, the danger genuinely feels near. Actual flames flare in the background, while fire stunts add consequence. That’s more elaborate than most TV movies have a budget for, in addition to the authenticity,
Beyond their stock quality though, it’s hard to invest in Fire and its key players. Their parts play out as expected, providing limited ‘70s era Saturday night network entertainment. Fire is made entirely of B-tier material, and although Fire earned a theatrical release overseas in some countries, that’s not a sign of quality so much as marketing.
Beautiful mastering brings this TV movie a clarity it’s never had before, at least for those watching at home. Generous resolution produces stellar sharpness, the detail in forests outstanding and facial texture in close belies Fire’s age. Aside from stock footage, Fire doesn’t show any damage, whether a speck or scratch. Light, at times imperceptible grain doesn’t challenge the encode.
Likewise, color replication excels. Flames bring a dazzling richness in their oranges and yellows. Primaries show wonderful saturation and natural flesh tones. Forest scenes drive home greenery and earth tones en masse.
Black levels miss, if only on occasion. Much of the time they produce a dense, thick base on which to build the depth. Natural light loads up many outdoor scenes, perky, bright, and consistent.
Fire’s age comes from the dialog, roughened and coarse, with minimal natural fidelity. It’s audible, normal for the era, and undamaged at least. Mono is enough to handle the basic soundstage needs used in Fire, and the score reaches a pleasing crescendo.
A trailer. That’s it.
Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.
Fire’s pedestrian script and action can only generate a few thrills, but as a weekend TV movie, it’s competent entertainment.
User Review( votes)
The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 34 full resolution, uncompressed HD screen shots grabbed directly from the Blu-ray: