Remember The Titans: Director's Cut
R1 - America - Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Noor Razzak (8th May 2006).
The Film

In 1995 I saw a little independent film called Fresh this was after its festival run when it was given general release. The film’s title is exactly what this film was, considering the many urban gangster films that had populated the mainstream film going audience, films such as Boyz N The Hood (1991) and Menace II Society (1993) brought to light the problems facing young black men and gang life. While these films looked at the problem from the perspective of the youth involved, Fresh looked at it from a different perspective, more from a child’s perspective. Fresh quickly became one of the festival ‘darlings’ that Miramax scooped up, note that 1994 was also the year of Kevin Smith‘s seminal hit Clerks and Quentin Tarantino‘s Oscar winning masterpiece Pulp Fiction. Fresh offered something new and would not be forgotten by this reviewer for quite some time. Filmmaker Boaz Yakin would become someone whose career I was prepared to follow. However Yakin went onto films that were a stark contrast to his freshman feature, 1998’s A Price Above Rubies was rarely seen and quickly forgotten, in 2000 he released this film Remember The Titans a predictable sports film that lifts the spirits and makes us all proud to be Americans (that is if you are one) and then rounding things off with the unfunny girly comedy Uptown Girls (2003), if you told me that the director of Fresh would go on to direct Uptown Girls I’d tell you to promptly go f*** yourself! But it happened, Yakin could have continued making powerful films that not only had a message but was told from a new unique point of view but instead it seems like he wanted to make fluff for the average Joe. Remember the Titans is just such fluff.
Jerry Bruckheimer has made a career out of big films that cuts to the core of every hard working patriotic man, and even throws in something for the ladies too. From action films to war films to inspirational sports films, this man has made ‘cheese’ a constant element in just about all his films. The ‘cheese factor’ is piled on heavy on this occasion.
Remember the Titans tells the story of Coach Herman Boone (Denzel Washington) a black man who is hired as head coach of a local high school football team. However nothing is ever clean cut and simple, this is West Virginia of the 1970’s were racisms was still very much a reality. The town and the team object to having black players among them, but Coach Boone doesn’t only have to fight the town’s prejudice’s and keep a team together he also has to fight internal pressures from the teams former head Coach Bill Yoast (Will Patton) who has taken the job of assistant coach under Boone. Boone trains the team and tries different methods for the players to no only operate as a team but also learn to put their prejudices aside and connect as people. His crazy tactics not only work but the coach leads the team to a perfect season winning the State Championships, earns the respect and admiration of the coaching staff and town but most importantly changes the lives of his players who have developed a bond and friendship with each other that lasts a lifetime.
Not only is this an inspirational true story, but Disney manages to find a way to slap a dollop of icing sugar all over this one. The film’s purpose is to jerk some heart strings and provide inspiration to its audience and it delivers that in spades. Yakin takes the time to build these relationships up and throws challenges towards them at every opportunity but just when you think their number is up these characters make it through stronger and unscathed. The film feels entirely manipulative, forcing you to feel sympathetic for these players and the coach’s predicament, totally distracting you from the fact that the story is light and has nowhere else to go other than presenting a winning team. I’ll give some credit to the filmmakers in developing these characters throughout the film, but they were an entirely clichéd bunch of people that not only insults this viewer but how could anyone watch this without rolling their eyes? The bad ass racists redneck, the naive blockhead, the pretty boy heart throb, the fat guy whose a little dumb, the star quarter back etc. However by far the worst thing about this film was coach Yoast’s daughter Sheryl (Hayden Panettiere), this opinionated loudmouth kid was supposed to be feisty to the point of being adorable but instead was annoying and unnecessary. How could anyone think that this character was a good idea? I realize that this is a true story and that these characters are based on real people, however the key word here is ‘based’ let’s not forget that this is a Hollywood film and creative license is taken.
Ok, so it’s a little soft in the middle, however this is a sports film and I did enjoy that aspect of the film. The football scenes are energetic and involving, Yakin puts his camera right into the action you can almost smell the sweat, I’ve seen far better football sequences in my time, Any Given Sunday (1999) is one such example, Remember the Titans doesn’t quiet reach the greatness of the sequences in Oliver Stone‘s film however does a fine job in any case.
I spoke of the ‘cheese factor’ earlier, this film certainly has those moments, one in particular sticks out like a sore thumb, in a tight game Gerry Bertier (Ryan Hurst) runs up to the opposition side, glares at the coach of that team and angrily points at him letting out a grunt expressing his hatred for that team and his desire to win, or some such bulls**t. There are plenty more ‘cheese’ moments in this film, especially near the end when Bertier is hospitalized for begin in a car accident, the many connect-with-one-another moments at the football camp and also the uplifting speeches the coach delivers every now and then.
Remember the Titans will not likely be one of those films about racial intolerance that is remembered and talked for years to come such as To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) or even a remembered as a truly great sports film such as Rocky (1976), Chariots of Fire (1981) or Hoosiers (1986). Although an inspirational story none-the-less the filmmakers poured too much sugar over this one to leave a significant impact on the viewer which makes for good lighthearted entertainment and unfortunately nothing else.

Video

Presented in the film’s original theatrical ratio of 2.35:1 this anamorphic widescreen transfer is mighty fine indeed. The image is sharp and clean, the colors are well balanced especially skin tones. Blacks are deep and show no signs of murkiness, shadow detail is consistent especially during night scenes or low light situations. Much like the previous release, this transfer is top notch and I could not find any major flaws that would get in the way of your viewing experience.

Audio

There is only one audio track included here, an English Dolby Digital 5.1 surround, although the packaging states that the disc also includes a French 2.0 surround track which is definitely not on the disc. The previous release included an awesome DTS track while this release opted for the standard Dolby Digital 5.1, which is a bit of a disappointment. Although the dialogue is clean and distortion free and the track exhibits no real problems I was a little disappointed that the surround channels were not put to good use, the entire track seems far too focused on the front speakers, I was never truly immersed, I was expecting something a little more aggressive to be honest.
Optional subtitles are also included in English for the hearing impaired, French and Spanish.

Extras

First up we have 4 deleted scenes, two of which are actually included in the Director’s Cut film. The scenes included are:
- Friends don’t some easy which runs for 1 minute 25 seconds, Coach Yoast tells Julius (Wood Harris) what he thinks of his outside activities, but likes his moves on the field and recommends him for a spot on the team.
- It wouldn’t kill you runs for 49 seconds, Boone and his assistant coach share a moment together as Boone tries to smile.
- Sunday service runs for 1 minute 18 seconds and in it, Yoast and his daughter attend a black church for Sunday service.
- Sunshine strikes back runs for 1 minute 47 seconds, Sunshine convinces a bar owner that it’s his best interest to serve his black friends.

Next up we have the featurette entitled Remember the Titans: An Inspirational Journey Behind the Scenes which runs for 20 minutes 55 seconds. This is an EPK style clip about the making of the film that covers all the bases in brief, we learn about the true story, the selling of the script, casting the parts, as well as gives us a look at some of the filming as well as meet the real life Boone and Yoast.

Next we have Denzel Becomes Boone featurette which runs for 6 minutes 12 seconds. In this clip we look at Denzel’s transformation into playing the real life hero behind the film, Denzel also talks about meeting the real man and what interested him in playing this role.

The final featurette is entitled Beating the Odds which runs for 6 minutes 17 seconds. This clips covers the discovery of the story and the script’s genesis as well as trying to find a studio to make this film. The script was given the thumbs down by every major studio until Bruckheimer picked it up.

Rounding out the extras are a collection of bonus trailers, these are all start-up previews and play before the menu, however they can all be skipped by pressing the ‘menu’ button on your remote. They can also be accessed from the main menu. The trailers included are for:
- Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest which runs for 1 minute 45 seconds.
- The Chronicles of Narnia: the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe which runs for 2 minutes 28 seconds.
- Glory Road which runs for 2 minutes 31 seconds.
- Eight Below which runs for 2 minutes 22 seconds.

Packaging

This disc is packaged in an amaray case housed in a shiny cardboard slip-cover.

Overall

The Film: C+ Video: A Audio: B+ Extras: C+ Overall: B-

 


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