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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

“24: Redemption” DVD Review: A Total Triumph

The fantastic thing about “24: Redemption” being released on DVD so quickly is not so you can watch it again (although that is a plus.).

No, the fantastic thing is the special features. And “Redemption” is jam-packed with them.

First, there’s the extended version with over 10 minutes of footage not seen in the TV version. As with most director’s cuts, there are some scenes that you hate to see cut (Peter MacNicol’s biggest scene) and some scenes you’re glad hit the cutting room floor (the fate of one of the movie’s villains). The broadcast version is also included on a separate DVD.

Then, there are two featurettes. “The Making of 24: Redemption” goes extremely in-depth on how the movie was made. You see the difficulties caused by the weather, how the special effects work and much, MUCH more. In fact, everyone participates so much in the featurette, you almost wonder when they actually had time to make the movie. It doesn’t take long to realize these people are a little crazy (especially Kiefer). But if they weren’t, we wouldn’t get such a terrific show.

The other featurette, “’Blood Never Dry’: Child Soldiers in Africa,” is just harrowing as we hear from experts about how children are forced to join armies in Africa. Cast members compliment the experts’ stories with the words of actual child soldiers. It made me want to immediately run to my computer, look up the websites Kiefer mentioned, and give a donation.

There’s also a recap of season six: “24 Season 6 in Four Minutes,” but sadly even with just four minutes, it’s obvious that it didn’t measure up.

Thankfully, it looks like we won’t have that problem with season seven as the DVD gives us the first seventeen minutes of the season seven premiere. It wastes absolutely no time in setting up the first threat and bringing back Tony. It’s a tad on the strange side, but I’m willing to give the show the benefit of the doubt—especially in light of “Redemption.”

Finally, we get the crown jewel of special features—a commentary on the extended version with Kiefer Sutherland, director Jon Cassar, and Executive Producer/”Redemption” writer Howard Gordon. It’s one of the best commentaries I’ve ever heard and you can tell just how proud Kiefer is of the movie because he actually talks—a lot (“24” fans know that Kiefer doesn’t talk that much during his DVD commentaries.). So therefore, we learn a lot. We hear about how Kiefer deals with certain scenes. We hear how the crew dealt with the weather. We hear about the incredible South African actors and crew. We hear Kiefer’s horror at the scene where two of the children are shot. And we hear just how much Kiefer brings to the show as Cassar and Gordon tell us about several scenes where Kiefer made changes to the script for the better—including the climactic scene where Trammell nearly doesn’t let the children into the Embassy gates.

Kiefer even suggests another scene in the commentary. He suggests that Trammell show up in season seven just so Jack can beat the crap out of him (I’m for that, by the way.)…

What makes the commentary even more interesting is that Gordon did not make the trip to South Africa so he gets to hear many of the stories for the first time along with us.

It’s also interesting to hear the dynamics between the three men. You can tell there’s a lot of collaboration and teamwork, but most of all there’s mutual respect for what each of them brings to the show.

Be warned, however, that Cassar and Gordon do give up one important detail from season seven. I guess they thought everybody already knew it since they spill it so nonchalantly (I had heard rumblings, but didn’t know for sure.)…

After watching all of the special features and hearing the commentary, you can’t help but think that “Redemption” is a total triumph. The DVD is a must-have for “24” fans or anyone who’s a fan of phenomenal acting, beautiful direction and compelling drama…

“24: Redemption” (SRP $26.98) is available now…

Photo Credit: Fox Home Entertainment