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(Review originally written at 2 December 2005)

"Ladder 49" is by no means a bad movie and as a matter of fact, it's a professionally made production, with some good actors in it, but it's just that everything in the movie is very formulaic and all the typical clichés you could expect in a movie about firefighters are present here. The movie has no real surprises in it and because of that none of the emotions come over as real. Also compared to "Backdraft", this movie is totally obsolete. It adds nothing to the firefighter movie genre (..as if that even is a genre). "Ladder 49" and "Backdraft" are two similar movies in several ways but "Backdraft" is the better one simply because it has better emotions, character building and sequences featuring fire. It however is of course not fair to compare this two movie just simply because they both are about firefighters. I understand that "Ladder 49" and "Backdraft" are two different movie made with different intentions. However "Ladder 49" is self to blame for this constant comparisons. It copies elements and scene's from "Backdraft" and obviously tries to top the movie in every way possible. Mission failed though...

The storytelling isn't done in the best way. The non-linear storytelling wasn't the best choice for this movie. If the story was told in a more 'normal' way, the emotions and the ending would perhaps had worked better for me. I wasn't exactly grabbed by the story and its character and both were lacking. Not really the actors fault, blame it on the cliché filled script instead. It's obvious that the movie makers wanted to portray the firefighters as true heroes. If the script hadn't been filled with so many clichés, they might had succeeded in this.

The fire sequences were nicely made but to be honest they weren't anything thrilling or exciting. The true essence of the movie is on the characters and the dramatic moments but since the movie isn't exactly successful in this, the movie as a whole also quite isn't.

The musical score by William Ross was better than anticipated and Joaquin Phoenix is a wonderful actor. This truly were the two best elements of the movie.

Nicely made but as a movie not original enough and because of that also quite pointless. Just watch the Ron Howard movie "Backdraft" instead.

6/10

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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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