Denzel Washington, Will Patton, Wood Harris, Ryan Hurst, Donald Faison, Craig Kirkwood, Ethan Suplee, Kip Pardue, Hayden Panettiere, Nicole Ari Parker, Kate Bosworth, Earl Poitier, Ryan Gosling
Gregory Allen Howard
History is written by the winners.
This must-see Director's Cut, featuring a rousing performance by Academy Award-winner Denzel Washington, gives you even more to cheer about. Experience a celebration of how a town torn apart by resentment, friction, and mistrust comes together in triumphant harmony.
The year is 1971. After leading his team to 15 winning seasons, football coach Bill Yoast (Will Patton) is demoted and replaced by Herman Boone (Washington), tough, opinionated, and very different from the beloved Yoast. How these two men overcome their differences and turn a group of hostile young men into champions, plays out in a remarkable and winning story - now with all-new bonus features and scenes not shown in theaters!
$20.905 million on 1865 screens.
English Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Runtime: 119 min.
Release Date: 3/14/2006
• Four Deleted Scenes
• "Denzel Becomes Boone" Featurette
• "Beating The Odds" Featurette
• ABC Special "Remember The Titans: An Inspirational Journey Behind The Scenes"
• Sneak Peeks
PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM
Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.
Remember The Titans: Director's Cut (2000)
Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (May 19, 2006)
When I remember the Titans, I don’t think of Remember the Titans. Instead, I flash back to my senior year of high school. I went to Robinson, where we usually featured good squads but always were in the shadow of the perennial powerhouse from T.C. Williams. The two schools played yearly, and we usually were on the losing end.
During my senior year, however, it looked like things might be different. Both our Rams and the Titans were very highly rated, and when they met in the fall, it seemed possible we might be number one.
Alas, it was not to be. I had a bad feeling that night when I saw the Williams players leave their bus. They chanted, “Who we gonna beat? Robinson!” but I thought they were yelling, “What we wanna eat? Raw meat!” Williams had a reputation as a tough school in many ways, and those of us at more affluent Robinson were definitely intimidated by this.
I don’t know if our football players felt the same way, but the end result was unmistakable. The Titans mopped the field with our dudes and went on to yet another championship. As for the Rams, I don’t recall how the season ultimately concluded, but at least our best player - running back Chris Warren - went on to a respectable career as a pro.
My experiences with the team as depicted in Remember the Titans are nil. Although I lived in the area back in 1971 - when the film takes place - I was only four at the time, so I definitely wasn’t interested in football. (1971 was Robinson’s first year in existence - too bad we didn’t make the movie!) Nonetheless, I’ve been here my whole life, so I retain a certain perspective on the region. Although Titans gets things horribly wrong in regard to it depiction of the area, it still offered a rousing and enjoyable tale of racial tolerance and unity.
First, let me just get my spleen-venting out of the way. Titans makes Alexandria, Virginia out as some backwater southern burg. One of the first statements in the film relates that in our fair state, high school football is a virtual religion. That may well be true for areas farther south, but make no mistake: Alexandria is in northern Virginia. Our region is very different from much of the rest of the state, as we’re a suburb of Washington, DC.
You’d never know that from Titans, which leads one to believe that Alexandria was a sleepy town far from anywhere. Fact: T.C. Williams High is 10 miles from the White House. At no point does the film let you know that you’re so close to the center of the nation, as it prefers to create an impression of the small-town south.
Alexandria was definitely less well-developed 35 years ago, but it wasn’t like this. I guess the filmmakers felt they needed to create a more isolated location for the movie to work. I don’t agree, but I was able to ignore the radical departure from geographical reality and enjoy the movie nonetheless.
Titans looks at the first year of busing and forced integration at Williams. Not only the students are shoved together but also the football coaches - headed by long-term leader Bill Yoast (Will Patton) - are disrupted by the introduction of new head coach Herman Boone (Denzel Washington). Although this demotion nearly causes Yoast to leave Williams, Boone convinces him that he needs his help to quell the racial powderkeg ignited by the combination of white and black teammates.
Inevitably, the two sides start out as enemies, but also inevitably, they learn to respect each other and come together as a team. Led by black Julius “Big Ju” Campbell (Wood Harris) and white Gerry Bertier (Ryan Hurst), the squad unites and becomes a nearly unstoppable force. Things aren’t quite so simple in the real world, but eventually most of the townsfolk take their cues from the coaches and the players and learn to get along with each other.
There’s not an original moment to be found in Titans, as we’ve all seen this kind of film many times. Essentially the plot follows the battles fought by the team both on and off the field as intolerance continues to be a problem, but the whole thing wraps up fairly neatly in the end. A little too neatly, perhaps, but it still comes to a satisfying conclusion.
When you see the name “Jerry Bruckheimer” on the marquee, you know the production will lack ingenuity but you’re usually assured that you’ll find a reasonably entertaining piece, and that definitely was the case with Titans. Actually, this movie deviates slightly from the usual Bruckheimer formula in which he casts a slew of big-name actors to give the otherwise-slight stories some credibility. I guess he reserves the superstars for action flicks like Gone In Sixty Seconds and The Rock. When Bruckheimer goes the “character” route - such as in Coyote Ugly - we might find a star or two, but most of the cast features relative unknowns.
Washington is clearly the only box-office “name” found in Titans. After Patton, the only easily recognizable performer - to me, at least - was Nicole Ari Parker. She plays Boone’s wife and is best remembered - by me, at least - as Becky Barnett in Boogie Nights. Some of the other actors looked familiar - Hurst appeared in Rules of Engagement, while Ethan Suplee was in a few Kevin Smith flicks such as Mallrats and Chasing Amy - but otherwise this was a roster of unknowns.
No matter - they all do a very nice job. If I had to pick a standout, it’d be Hurst, who offers a rich and varied portrayal of Bertier. He makes him a strong leader but also develops his emotional status in a natural and believable manner. In any case, none of the supporting actors do a poor job, and they all provide nice performances.
Another good performance comes from the youngest co-star, Hayden Panettiere. Although not a recognizable face, her voice may sound familiar. She appeared in two Disney animated flicks, 1998’s A Bug’s Life and 2000’s Dinosaur. For the most part, I can’t stand child actors, and her role as Yoast’s daughter Sheryl possessed great potential to become annoying; she’s more football-obsessed than her dad, and she’s free with her opinions. However, Panettiere makes the character forceful but not obnoxious, and she was a consistently amusing highlight.
Director Boaz Yakin does little to alter the standard Bruckheimer formula, as the movie consists of lots of period songs integrated into a smooth and vivid visual production. The characters get enough play for us to remember them, but they receive no additional depth. Even the main characters - the two coaches, Bertier, and Campbell - aren’t terribly well-defined, as the movie prefers to keep things moving among roles rather than really develop anyone.
Frankly, it doesn’t really matter. While Remember the Titans sticks to a fairly light and frothy presentation, it still offers a strong experience. We’ve seen this kind of material many times, but the spirit and enthusiasm behind the project are positive enough to make the film entertaining and moving. A film doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel to be well-done and enjoyable, and if you’re interested in a rousing little flick, Remember the Titans will be up your alley.
Note that this disc includes a “Director’s Cut” of Remember the Titans. It runs about five minutes longer than the original 114-minute theatrical edition. Much of that extra footage comes from three scenes. We get one in which Yoast gives Julius the starting job, and another shows Yoast with his ex-wife. The final major addition features Bass and the others when they return to the bar that refused to admit them earlier. A few short extensions also occur. None of these scenes are bad, but none add anything substantial to the already satisfying theatrical edition.
The DVD Grades: Picture B/ Audio B+/ Bonus C
Remember the Titans appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. The transfer was generally good but not quite excellent.
Sharpness was mostly solid. At times, wider shots came across as a bit soft, though not terribly so. The movie largely seemed distinctive and crisp. No concerns with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, but I noticed some mild to moderate edge enhancement. Print flaws looked light though not absent. A few specks and marks popped up throughout the film.
Colors consistently looked vivid and rich throughout the film. Titans featured a fairly natural palette, and the tones were well-rendered and accurate. Black levels seemed deep and dense, and shadow detail came across as appropriately heavy but not excessively thick. While not stellar, this was a more than satisfactory transfer.
As for the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Remember the Titans, it featured a mainly forward-oriented soundfield that worked well within those confines. The audio spread neatly to the front side channels and the track created a realistic and moderately lively environment in which the audio blended well and moved cleanly across speakers.
As for the surrounds, they played a moderate role in the production. As a whole, the rear channels tended toward modest reinforcement of the forward track. Titans wasn’t the kind of movie that really needed active surrounds, and it used the rears acceptably well. They were reasonably involving during the football scenes.
Audio quality appeared strong. Dialogue came across as nicely natural and distinct, with no edginess or problems related to intelligibility. Music was clean and bright, and effects appeared crisp and accurate. The latter worked especially well during the football games, at which time they showed good clarity and impact. Bass response added decent punch to the mix. Overall, this was a good mix.
How did the picture and audio of this “Director’s Cut” compare to those of the original DVD? I thought the visuals were a little worse on this disc. The picture of the longer version seemed softer and showed a few more source flaws. These weren’t huge changes, but they led me to drop my “B+” grade for the original disc to a “B” here.
On the other hand, I preferred the audio of the “Director’s Cut” to the mix on the prior disc. The new one sounded more active and offered stronger low-end. Again, this wasn’t a night and day difference, but it did lead me to boost my original “B” grade to a “B+”.
A negative change came in regard to the disc’s supplements. I’ll cover what the “Director’s Cut” included and what it dropped from the old DVD.
Titans tosses in a series of video extras. First up is an ABC TV special called Remember The Titans: An Inspirational Journey Behind the Scenes. Hosted by former football great Lynn Swann, this 20-minute and 55-second program offers the usual combination of film clips, behind the scenes shots, and interviews with principal participants. The latter include actors Denzel Washington, Will Patton, Ryan Hurst, Wood Harris, Kip Pardue, Ethan Suplee, and we also hear from the three men heard on the first audio commentary plus the two coaches and a nice little mix of many real-life players from the 1971 Titans. In the latter category, we get notes from Fred Alderson, Petey Jones, Robert Luckett, Lee R. Davis, and Julius Campbell.
The involvement of those folks is what makes this show more entertaining than most. As a whole, it’s a superficial promotional piece that mainly tells us what a great movie Titans is, and we find an overabundance of movie snippets. However, it was fun to see the old players, and the brief interview Swann conducts with Boone and Yoast was also well-done. Overall, it’s not a special piece, but a few elements make it pretty good.
Next up are two brief featurettes. Denzel Becomes Boone lasts six minutes and 10 seconds while Beating the Odds runs six minutes and 20 seconds. Essentially, both of these are just extensions of the prior documentary. “Denzel” looks more specifically at the character of Coach Boone, while “Odds” goes into a little more depth about the genesis of the project itself.
They use the same format found in the documentary and clearly come from the same interview sessions; we even hear a few duplicated sound bites. “Denzel” features Bruckheimer, Washington, Boone, Howard, and Yakin, while “Odds” gives us Bruckheimer, Howard, Yakin, Pardue and Walt Disney Studios chairman Peter Schneider. They’re both light and superficial, but they remain acceptably entertaining.
We find four Deleted Scenes section. They last between 49 seconds and 108 seconds for a total of five minutes, 20 seconds of footage. We see two segments that already appear in the longer cut of the film. One shows Julius and Yoast, and the other presents Ronnie’s return to the bar. In addition, we get Yoast and Sheryl at a black church service, and the other one rips off a segment originally cut from Terminator 2 that was restored in the film’s special edition. In that bit, the terminator attempts to smile. Here, we see Coach Boone encouraged to grin, with similarly humorous results. Unfortunately, it was shot poorly, so we can barely see the side of his face that bears the wrinkle.
I like all of the deleted scenes, though I’m not sure why the DVD shows two of the ones already seen in the movie. In addition, the original disc presented six deleted scenes – why’d they drop the other two here?
The DVD opens with some promos. We get ads for Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, The Chronicles of Narnia, Glory Road, and Eight Below. These also appear under the Sneak Peeks banner.
As I alluded earlier, the “Director’s Cut” DVD loses some extras from the original DVD. In addition to the two absent deleted scenes, this set excises the movie’s theatrical trailer as well as two audio commentaries. Those are the pieces most missed here. Both are very good discussions, and their absence means this DVD gets a “C” for extras instead of the old disc’s “B+”.
Note that the prior DVD included a DTS 5.1 soundtrack in addition to its Dolby Digital 5.1 mix. I didn’t think the two differed, and I preferred the Dolby Digital track of the “Director’s Cut”, so I didn’t miss the DTS version.
As is usually the case with films from producer Jerry Bruckheimer, Remember the Titans reinvents no wheels and will win no prizes for originality, but in its execution, it proves to be a spirited and energetic look at integration and race relations in the early Seventies. I was put off by some misrepresentations of my home area, but even so, I enjoyed the movie and found it to be fun and compelling.
The DVD provides fairly solid picture and sound with a few decent extras. Unfortunately, it drops the best supplements from the original DVD. Because of that, I recommend fans skip this “Director’s Cut” release and stick with the old DVD. It’s the most satisfying way to watch the movie.
Viewer Film Ratings: 4.2 Stars|| Number of Votes: 20|