DVD
World Trade Center

Starring: Nicholas Cage, Michael Pena, Maria Bello and Maggie Gyllenhaal
Paramount Home Entertainment
RRP: 19.99 / £22.99
PHE9235 / PHE9071
Certificate: 12
Available 29 January 2007


The events of September 11 left an indelible mark on most Americans, and certainly on those in the New York City area. Yet as fresh as the images seem, it's easy to forget the actual grit, sacrifice, and uncertainty of that day. Director Oliver Stone captures the essence of 9/11 by focusing on the true story of two Port Authority Police Department officers who were trapped beneath the wreckage of the fallen World Trade Center...

World Trade Center is the true story of John McLoughlin and William J. Jimeno, two of the last survivors extracted from Ground Zero.

I want to start this review by stating that I came to this movie totally open and unsure of what to expect. I hadn't read any film reviews from when the movie was originally release and had seen nothing in the press to indicate whether it was a good or bad movie. And, other than the facts that Oliver Stone was the director and Nicholas Cage was the principal character, I knew absolutely nothing about how the movie was going to unfold. Yes, I knew it was based on the events of 11 September 2001, and that it followed some of the service men who bravely put their lives on the line to save others, but that was it.

So, it was something of a surprise to discover that this movie opens only a very short while before the planes crash into the towers and our heroes spend the entire movie underground not being able to move. To be quite honest I found the majority of this movie to be tedious and rather too sentimental and so, on listening to the audio commentary with one of the survivors and other cops that helped on the day, was surprised to hear that all of the events depicted were about as close to reality as possible. I had assumed that Stone had taken these two men's experiences and incorporated them into his movie. I had no idea that it carefully staged to be so realistic.

The movie follows two cops as they, as part of a team, arrive at the towers to help in whatever way they can. They are unprepared and have no idea what to expect when they arrive. They are buried when the towers collapse and spend the rest of the movie in the dark trying to help each other through their ordeal.

Their families are shown at home wondering whether their loved ones are alive or dead, and there are a few other characters that pop in and out - including the slightly unhinged ex-marine who hears God telling him to go and search for survivors. Not wishing to offend the almighty, he gets a hair cut, puts on his old uniform, travels to Ground Zero and talks his way past the security checks in order to spend the first night searching through the rubble for any survivors.

While the events may well be based on real characters and events, I couldn't help but feel that we hadn't been introduced to them properly. At no time did I feel as though I was growing to like either of the two men. It was only through listening to the audio commentary, where Jimeno is one of the participants, and watching the extensive extras on the second disc, that I actually came to realise how close to reality this film was and how their story was something much greater than Stone shows.

To be honest Stone's attempts only actually mean anything if you know a little more about both McLoughlin and Jimeno. In fact I have to admit that I really enjoyed the Common Sacrifice two-part featurette. This told the entire story of McLoughlin and Jimeno and continued way beyond the ending of the film to explain how long they were in hospital for and what their injuries were.

If you can't be bothered to sit for two hours, then you can watch the Theatrical Trailer that is included on disc two of the two-disc edition. It tells the story in a fraction of the time and looks a lot more interesting than the finished film. I also found it a lot more moving.

To be perfectly honest the single disc release is not worth buying. However, the two-disc edition is packed full of really interesting featurettes. I think this could well be the first time that I've found the extras to be much, much more interesting than the main feature.

Extras include: 17 mins of extended/deleted scenes; audio commentary with Stone; audio commentary with Jimeno and several of his rescuers; The Making of The World Trade Center (51 min featurette that is split into three parts); Common Sacrifice (52 min featurette that examines the real story with interviews with all involved). To my mind this is worth the retail price alone; Building Ground Zero (24 min featurette that looks at the set construction); Visual and Special Effects (12 min featurette); Oliver Stone's New York (24 minute featurette that follows Stone around New York as he points out places from his childhood); Q&A With Oliver Stone (13 minute interview from the BAFTAs); Theatrical Trailer; 5 TV spots; and a photo gallery - that is actually quite interesting as it shows the real life heroes on set.

My final mark really reflects the quality of the extras more than anything. As a stand alone film this is (I hate to say) pretty dull. The pace is too slack and spending a good portion of the movie watching two guys trapped in the dark is not my idea of a good time. Why Stone didn't concentrate more time building up the characters as ordinary guys (so that the audience could feel for them) and then conclude the last segment of the movie with their fight in hospital is beyond me. As it is it just feels like a made for TV movie about two guys buried underground.

Pete Boomer

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£14.99 (Amazon.co.uk)
Single Disc Edition
   
cover
£17.24 (Amazon.co.uk)
Two Disc Commemorative Edition
   
cover
£14.99 (Play.com)
Single Disc Edition
   
cover
£15.99 (Play.com)
Two Disc Commemorative Edition
   
£12.99 (HMV.co.uk)
Single Disc Edition
   
£14.99 (HMV.co.uk)
Two Disc Commemorative Edition
   
£12.89 (Sendit.com)
Single Disc Edition
   
£14.89 (Sendit.com)
Two Disc Commemorative Edition
   
£13.49 (Bensons-world.co.uk)
Single Disc Edition
   
£20.65 (Bensons-world.co.uk)
Two Disc Commemorative Edition
   
£13.99 (Thehut.com)
Single Disc Edition
   
£15.99 (Thehut.com)
Two Disc Commemorative Edition

All prices correct at time of going to press.