"The Ron Howard Spotlight Collection" is an eight-disc box set containing four Howard-directed features, including the Best Picture Oscar winner "Beautiful Mind," the story of brilliant mathematician John Nash (Russell Crowe). The set also contains a heap of bonus extras, including an introduction by Howard himself, deleted scenes, theatrical trailers, feature commentary, behind-the-scenes featurettes, and documentaries on the real individuals portrayed.
"Backdraft" is a fairly routine story about two feuding firefighter brothers (Kurt Russell, William Baldwin) who have to set aside their personal differences in order to survive the infernos set by a maniacal arsonist. Fire is the real star, with spectacularly staged sequences that look incredibly dangerous. Drama-wise, the movie is a familiar reworking of a classic plot and offers few surprises.
"Apollo 13" is riveting drama with the all-star cast of Tom Hanks, Bill Paxton, Kevin Bacon, Gary Sinise, and Ed Harris. Here we have the true story of a space flight that would have ended in disaster were it not for the coordination of flight and ground crews to bring the astronauts back safely. In the confines of a claustrophobic space capsule, Howard manages to make a tale whose outcome is known, gripping.
"Cinderella Man," a fine movie that did poorly at the box office, takes place in Depression-era America. Down-and-out boxer Jim Braddock (Russell Crowe) has a young family but few prospects. Desperate, he accepts an offer to do battle with the reigning world heavyweight champ, proving himself a popular underdog and a champion of the common man.