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Remember the Titans: Director's Cut DVD Review
|Remember the Titans
Theatrical Release: September 29, 2000 / Running Time: 119 Minutes (Director's Cut), 113 Minutes (Theatrical Cut) / Rating: Not Rated (Director's Cut), PG (Theatrical Cut)
Director: Boaz Yazkin
Cast: Denzel Washington (Coach Herman Boone), Will Patton (Coach Bill Yoast), Donald Faison (Petey Jones), Wood Harris (Julius "Big Ju" Campbell), Ryan Hurst (Gerry Bertier), Ethan Suplee (Louie Lastik), Nicole Ari Parker (Carol Boone), Hayden Panettiere (Sheryl Yoast), Kip Pardue (Ronnie "Sunshine" Bass), Craig Kirkwood (Jerry "Rev" Harris), Kate Bosworth (Emma Hoyt), Earl C. Poitier (Blue Stanton), Ryan Gosling (Alan Bosley), Burgess Jenkins (Ray Budds), Neal Ghant (Glascoe), David Jefferson Jr. (Cook), Preston Brant (Jerry Buck), Michael Weatherly (Kirk Barker), Gregalan Williams (Coach "Doc" Hinds), Brett Rice (Coach Tyrell), Richard Fullerton (A.D. Watson), J. Don Ferguson (Executive Director), Krysten Leigh Jones (Nicky Boone)
Songs: Buddy Miles - "Them Changes", Marvin Gaye - "I Heard It Through the Grapevine", Charles Wright & The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band - "Express Yourself", Bobby "Blue" Bland - "Call On Me", Norman Greenbaum - "Spirit in the Sky", Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons - "Let's Hang On (To What We've Got)", Buck Owens - "Act Naturally", The Sea Shells - "Quiet Home", Leon Russell - "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall", Eric Burden and War - "Spill the Wine", Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell - "Ain't No Mountain High Enough", The Temptations - "You've Got to Earn It", Steam - "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye", The Chamber Brothers - "Time Has Come Today", The Temptations - "Superstar (Remember How You Got Where You Are)", The Temptations - "The Way You Do The Things You Do", Chris Goulstone - "No Surrender", Ike & Tina Turner - "I Want To Take You Higher", Frijid Pink - "House of the Rising Sun", Shocking Blue - "Venus", Cat Stevens - "Peace Train", The Hollies - "Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress", James Taylor - "Fire and Rain", Creedence Clearwater Revival - "Up Around the Bend"; Cast - "Ain't Too Proud To Beg", "Let's Go Blue"
The film which deserves credit or blame for Walt Disney Pictures' recent influx of real-life sports dramas is Remember the Titans, the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced football story which became the studio's second highest-grossing movie released in 2000. Titans offers an affecting tale that wasn't familiar to many who weren't in Virginia thirty-five years ago. By today's understanding, the American Civil Rights Movement ended in the late 1960s, but in the southern city of Alexandria, tensions remained strong between white people and African Americans in 1971. Regardless of progress that had been made and laws that had been passed, prejudices from both groups made uneasiness inevitable, even in high school football, which we're told was one of Virginia's most sacred activities.
Enter Herman Boone (Denzel Washington, a distinguished actor with an embarrassing film attached to his most recent and significant Oscar), a black coach of Division AA football who the powers that be have assigned as the new head coach of T.C. Williams High School. Coinciding with Boone's arrival are moves of racial integration, as Williams becomes the city's only public high school. As a result,
When it becomes clear that Yoast will accept the assistant coach position and that his players will be joining their black classmates on the Titans, Boone still has a lot of work cut out for him. As a coach, he must get his team to conform to his relentless brand of play. As a person, he must take efforts to get his players to appreciate their differences and not enforce race-based divides. These two daunting tasks are of equal importance as far as the film concerned. Though obviously neither thread offers, or is presented as, untread territory, Remember the Titans succeeds remarkably at universally engaging viewers to its oft-overlapping plights of sports and life, where only the compelling context and exciting execution are especially unique.
The film proceeds to depict Boone's limits-pushing, late-summer training camp at Gettysburg College, where ice is not only broken but entirely shattered, and the subsequent fruits of these labors, i.e. the Titans' dominant play in the 1971 season. More than half of the running time is dedicated to the team's victorious efforts, but while there is a fair amount of the quick cut, on-field footage you would expect from something bearing Bruckheimer's name, this is a film which easily wins over those with little interest in competitive athletics. Various subplots occupy our attentions, both on and off the field. These include Boone's discovery that a single loss could mean another relocation for his wife and two daughters, Yoast's relationship with his football-crazy 9½-year-old daughter Sheryl (Hayden Panettiere, in her first of several on-screen appearances for Disney, for whom she earlier voiced characters), and attempts to forge a friendship between Sheryl and Boone's eldest daughter Nicky.
While team sports movies usually present the cinematic challenge of getting viewers to identify and connect with a large number of individuals in a limited amount of time, Titans does a better job than most. It prominently features half-a-dozen student-athletes and serves up another three who you should be able to recognize by face and personality, if not name. Julius Campbell (Wood Harris) and Gerry Bertier (Ryan Hurst), a pair of defensive linemen, emerge as team leaders, whose hustle and interracial friendship speak volumes to their teammates. Two other white athletes, the overbearingly large defensive tackle Louie Lastik (Ethan Suplee) and backup quarterback Ronnie "Sunshine" Bass (Kip Pardue), the son of a Marine colonel, make lasting impressions as their outsider status find them more tolerant of their new schoolmates. Character arcs among the team members are present and handled quite tactfully; these interesting but never pressing matters come across at just the right angle, always widely avoiding the feeling of exposition and transparent storytelling.
Rarely have such formulaic elements been weaved together in a way that is so easy to swallow. Titans lands squarely at inspirational real life sports drama, social heroes conquering adversity story, and 20th century period piece. It summons all the hallmarks proven effective in each. And yet, the tale is so likable, the treatment is so easy to appreciate, and the messages are so applaudable that it is nearly impossible not to celebrate it as a whole, even when its tendencies to speechify, montage, and preach should lead you to record and ponder film clichιs. The acting is outstanding, the producer's trademark style is kept at bay (not Michael Bay), the script is intelligent enough, and both Trevor Rabin's score and the pre-recorded late '60s/early '70s soundtrack selections provide perfect aural complement to the well-filmed action.
If Titans had been made in the exact same fashion but in the period it depicted, it likely would have been a breakthrough piece of cinema. In the 29 autumns between its setting and its big screen release, enough similar films have come along to distinguish this as something relatively commonplace. Still, it is also something of a rare breed in this day and age: a film which isn't part of a franchise or adapted from a popular source that nonetheless wins over audiences in large numbers, finds favor with most critics, and becomes adopted by many as a favorite film. It won no major awards or was even nominated for many honors beyond African American or young actor niche ceremonies. But it is a film which will not soon be forgotten, nor hopefully will the important values it stresses.
Two final observations are in order. First, it should be pointed out that the movie takes a vast amount of artistic license with the facts. For the most part, these don't seem to be out of poor research but out of a desire to raise the dramatic stakes and amplify the importance of the movie's depictions. For answers to 49 frequently-asked questions on the movie and the real events it portrays, check out 71OriginalTitans.com, a site run by members of the '71 T.C. Williams High School football team. This page reveals many discrepancies, which somehow are easily forgivable and are treated as such by the site. For instance, basically any character displaying large flaws in the film is a composite, not an actual individual. The site also holds pictures of the real players, most of whom went cinematically unsung.
Finally, it's interesting to note that several of the supporting cast members have found success elsewhere. Donald Faison and Ethan Suplee had more substantial credits under their belts than most of their fellow Titans (who all appear to be in their twenties), and they have since become leads on NBC comedy series: Faison on "Scrubs", Suplee on first season hit "My Name is Earl." Likewise, former Mouseketeer Ryan Gosling and Kate Bosworth held fairly small roles in Titans, but have gained subsequent attention for The Notebook and for landing the role of Lois Lane in this summer's blockbuster-to-be Superman Returns. Even Hayden Panettiere has gone on to noteworthy film and television roles. Surprisingly, the capable Titan leads, Ryan Hurst and Wood Harris, have yet to make it as big as their co-stars.
DVD HISTORY / DIRECTOR'S CUT BREAKDOWN
Remember the Titans was released in separate widescreen and fullscreen versions on March 20, 2001. The DVD was one of the best Disney had treated a live action film to and even today, it remains one of the best single disc releases the studio has issued. The efforts went rewarded when Titans ended 2001 as the 13th best-selling
This 119-minute director's cut, which runs just under six minutes longer than the theatrical cut, is not entirely new. In television broadcasts, several deleted scenes were edited back into the film. That is what is done here, with three deleted scenes from the previous DVD ("She's All Yours", "Friends Don't Come Easy", and "Sunshine Strikes Back") restored to the film in their entirety. They account for 4 minutes. Brief segments from a fourth extended montage are also reinserted. A number of scenes in the training camp portion have been re-edited in a different order. Beyond those, there are a few extremely minor (and curious) changes, which typically extend or shorten existing scenes by a matter of seconds.
A complete list of Director's Cut differences follows:
Despite the strong warning on the back of the DVD case, the additional scenes definitely do not offer anything out of line with the hard PG rating that the rest of the film boasts. (Unless "popcorn fart" is one of those phrases which makes the MPAA automatically slap an "R" on a film and I just don't know it.)
|Director's Cut DVD
2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Dolby Digital 5.1 (English)
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
Release Date: March 14, 2006
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (DVD-9)
Suggested Retail Price: $19.99
Black Keepcase with Cardboard Slipcover
|Original DVD Details
2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen,
(1.33:1 Pan & Scan Available Separately)
DTS 5.1 (English)
Dolby Digital 5.1 (English, French)
Subtitles: English; Closed Captioned
Release Date: March 20, 2001
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (DVD-9)
Suggested Retail Price: $19.99 (Was $29.99)
VIDEO and AUDIO
Remember the Titans was originally released in separate 2.35:1 widescreen and 1.33:1 reformatted fullscreen versions. This latest release presents the film exclusively in widescreen, with no fullscreen equivalent. Those with respect for the art of filmmaking shouldn't mind this decision. Nor are they likely to find much fault in this fine 16x9-enhanced transfer. Like most modern films on a studio budget, Titans looks pretty terrific. The manipulated hues that are a trademark of Jerry Bruckheimer films are again used here, though with more moderation than usual. The picky might notice some ringing around edges and that a few scenes look a little soft. Such complaints are extremely minor and hardly worth mentioning. By and large, this is a fine transfer. Even though this disc is quite a bit lighter on overall content, the average bitrate (5.78 Mb/s) has dropped a bit from the original release (6.90 Mb/s). This occurs without any visual indications, but at the same time, this presentation definitely doesn't appear to improve upon the original disc's picture quality.
As far as soundtracks go, the DTS and Dolby Digital French 5.1 options have vanished, even though the latter is listed on the package. Instead, we only get a Dolby Digital 5.1 English track. This is quite potent in its own right, though those opposed to reaching for the remote during playback will be disappointed by the dynamic peaks and valleys here. Still, the effective mix of Trevor Rabin's score and aptly-chosen period tunes distinguish the track and are capably presented. There's also plenty of dialogue (some of it speechifying) and no shortage of hard tackles and accompanying grunts. Like the cinematography, the sound design does go far to put you in the middle of the gridiron action. But losing the slightly more satisfying (and less compressed) DTS track from the old disc knocks off some points in the sound department. In the one area where this disc improves upon the previous, French and Spanish subtitles are now offered, in addition to a new English stream tailored to the hearing impaired.
Right off the bat, this new edition loses two of Titans's most substantial bonus features: a pair of feature-length audio commentaries. The first brought together producer Jerry Bruckheimer, director Boaz Yazkin, and writer Gregory Allen Howard and focused on the making of the movie. The second offered the real coaches Herman Boone and Bill Yoast, and their unique perspectives, having lived the events of the film. Early press materials advertised the coaches' commentary, but neither track is anywhere to be found here. True, the existing tracks wouldn't line up due to the extended cut of the film that is offered, but if seamless branching couldn't have been offered, I think customers would be more than satisfied with 114 minutes of discussion and 6 scattered minutes of blank space than 119 minutes free of secondary audio tracks, especially since the commentaries were more commendable than most.
The menu's first listing is for Deleted Scenes. Whereas the original disc provided six discarded sequences, this one serves up four. The missing two have mostly been edited back into the film, but then two of the scenes presented again here are entirely back in, so the logic doesn't hold up. In fact, the "Cruel and Unusual Punishment" montage has been entirely re-edited, but it still lacks two brief moments from the old DVD's deleted scenes section. Why it wasn't included in favor of things that are? I have no idea. Each of the self-contained sequences is enhanced for 16x9 televisions and looks very much like the finished product. Unfortunately, the old disc's Dolby 5.1 presentation for these has been downgraded to two-channel surround, without much noticeable difference. The first and third scenes, "Friends Don't Come Easy" (1:25) and "Sunday Service" (1:17), contain more of Coach Yoast and his daughter Sheryl. The former finds them spending time together
At least all of the original DVD's three featurettes are preserved. "Remember the Titans: An Inspirational Journey Behind the Scenes" (20:55) is an ABC television special hosted by former NFL star and current Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Lynn Swann. As you'd expect from something which aired to help raise interest in the movie, it's heavy on the film excerpts. But it also has on-the-set footage and interview clips with the cast and crew. Even better, it documents a Titans team reunion, in which the real players and coaches got to meet their cinematic counterparts. Several of the Titans speak briefly, and coaches Yoast and Boone are interviewed at some length by Swann. Needless to say, there's a lot of value in this piece and it is definitely the best bonus retained.
"Denzel Becomes Boone" (6:10) simultaneously examines star Denzel Washington and Herman Boone, the "lovable bastard" character he embodies. Interview comments from both the actor and the real coach comprise the bulk of this brief piece; the remainder offers footage of the two on the filming locations, relevant remarks from creative crew, and a few clips from the film. While obviously a praise-filled piece, it's interesting to hear how both the subject and the portrayer approached the project.
Finally, "Beating the Odds" (6:16) recalls the journey this project took to reach the screen, with Gregory Allen Howard's script repeatedly being turned down by studios until Jerry Bruckheimer and company picked it up. Bruckheimer explains how pay cuts were taken by all, giving the cast and crew a stake in its financial success. Former Disney Studios chair Peter Schneider recalls how excited he was to bring the film to Disney. And all ended up happy when the film performed so well. Focused and just the right length, this is another featurette that informs in an entertaining fashion.
One final basic extra from the old DVD is inexplicably lost. It is the film's effectively intriguing Theatrical Trailer. It's bad enough that almost all the DVDs that Disney treats its new films today go without their original trailer, but when a re-release like this goes out of its way to drop a bonus like this which many would argue contains value, one can't help but scratch their head and or kick the wall. This is almost as bad as The Santa Clause: Special Edition, which no one can dispute held some appeal, for it contained glimpses of deleted scenes still not offered. What is the deal with trailers anyway? Yeah, they're sometimes available on other DVDs and online (where efforts are taken to ensure that saving them is a chore), but why is it such a challenge for studios to include them nowadays on the disc holding the film itself? Plenty of people might not care about their absence, but plenty don't care about any bonus features included. And plenty of people do like to have a preview of a film to help guests decide what movie to watch. It's one purely promotional bonus which people appreciate for uniqueness, historical or nostalgic worth and it used to be the one bonus feature customers could expect to be included. Now it's not and I will reiterate that is stupid. Thus concludes this unnecessarily long but not unmerited rant.
MENUS, PACKAGING, and DESIGN
Even the menus are downgraded from the previous disc's, which did a good job of excerpting Trevor Rabin's memorable score, thus earning forgiveness for the brief introduction of scrolling clichιd values (such as "brotherhood"). Though the Director's Cut menus use more than a handful of warm colors and wisely reformat the chapter selection area from 2-a-page to 4, they employ uninspired exclusively football photography, a boring montage/music combo for the main menu, and no score, animation, or transitions for the rest. It's as if the screens are intentionally downplaying any of the qualities which make the film appeal to non-football fans. Despite the longer cut, the chapter stops and titles here are identical to the previous DVD's.
As mentioned before, this release adds the all-important cardboard slipcover, which itself adds a second spine, another TV movie critic's quote, and slightly different text alignment. Woah, Nelly! While the slipcover does employ gold foil to attract attention, it still relies on the somewhat boring limited-palette-with-floating-Denzel-face artwork that barely distinguishes this from the original DVD and the movie poster it was modeled after.
Of course, one can find trailers for other Disney properties, which will accordingly, not adorn their respective films' DVDs. Obviously, the original DVD's dated old set of four sneak peeks (for Atlantis: The Lost Empire, 102 Dalmatians, The Emperor's New Groove, and The Kid) has been replaced with new, soon-to-be-dated promos. Appearing at the start of the disc are the first trailer for Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (cool, since it likely won't show up on its eventual DVD) plus barely-reworked-for-DVD previews of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, Glory Road, and Eight Below. The Sneak Peeks menu holds only this quartet of videos.
Remember the Titans is one of the best films Walt Disney Pictures has released this decade and its previous DVD release was one of the studio's most satisfying. With those facts in mind, you'd think that this new Director's Cut, coming five years after the original disc, would leave me with nothing but praise to offer. You would be mistaken. Two audio commentaries, a DTS soundtrack, and the theatrical trailer would be enough to turn a good DVD to a great one, but those are the supplements that have been lost for this release. What has been gained? A slipcover and the unnecessary editing of three previously deleted scenes back into the film. That makes this a rare and curious downgrade, which presents an opportunity not to recommend this DVD, but the best-selling 2001 disc that is now out-of-print in favor of this inferior package. The popularity of the original DVD should ensure that you'll be able to find a new or used copy in the second-hand market with some ease and not much money. Do go that route, as both the film and its initial DVD deserve a spot in most collections. If you already own it, kudos. Your version may one day go up in value and you have no reason to part with more money for this needless reissue.
1. Source: Video Business Online - 2001 Year-End Report
Late '90s/Early '00s Disney Films:
The Emperor's New Groove (2000): The New Groove Edition The Princess Diaries (2001): Special Edition
Fantasia 2000: The Fantasia Anthology Toy Story 2 (1999): Special Edition
New to DVD: The Shaggy D.A. (1976) Whisper of the Heart (1995) | Racism: Perfect Harmony (1991)
The Rookie (2002) Miracle (2004) Angels in the Endzone (1997) Mr. 3000 (2004)
The World's Greatest Athlete (1973) The Mighty Ducks (1992) Extreme Sports Fun
The Cast and Crew of Remember the Titans:
Jerry Bruckheimer: National Treasure (2004) Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) King Arthur (2004)
Donald Faison: Scrubs: The Complete First Season (2001-02) Scrubs: The Complete Second Season (2002-03)
Ethan Suplee: Boy Meets World: The Complete Second Season (1994-95) Boy Meets World: The Complete Third Season (1995-96)
Hayden Panettiere: Ice Princess (2005) A Bug's Life (1998) Dinosaur (2000)
Ryan Gosling: Mickey Mouse Club: The Best of Britney, Justin & Christina
Related Page: Remember the Titans in Top 30 Live Action Disney Films Countdown
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - Widescreen 1-Disc, Special Two-Disc Collector's Edition (April 4)
The Greatest Game Ever Played (April 11)
Glory Road (June 6)
UltimateDisney.com | DVD Reviews Index | Live Action Disney Films (1980-Present) | Upcoming DVD Cover Art | March 2006's Disney DVDs | Out-of-Print Disney DVD List
Reviewed March 13, 2006.