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Ghost Canyon

(Chris Pine, Denzel Washington, et al / DVD / NR / 2011 / 20th Century Fox)

Overview: A runaway train, transporting deadly, toxic chemicals, is barreling down on Scranton, Pennsylvania, and only two men can stop it: a veteran engineer (Washington) and a young conductor (Pine). Thousands of lives hang in the balance as these ordinary heroes attempt to chase down one million tons of hurtling steel and prevent an epic disaster.

DVD Verdict: This movie is fun, and showcases the talents of a stable of very well cast actors. I missed the movie in the theater and wasn't sure what to expect. The only problem I had with this movie was that it is practically impossible for a train to run away they way they showed it in the movie. Airbrakes work the opposite way you expect. When an engineer pumps air into the brake line, it RELEASES the brakes on the train. If the hoses were disconnected between the cars, as depicted in the movie, the air would bleed out of the brake lines APPLYING the brakes.

The only way for a train to run away the way they showed it in the movie was if all the air hoses were connected, the brake lines charged with air to release the brakes, and then someone would have to go back and close the angle cocks on the brake lines on both cars - where the hoses were supposedly disconnected. And then and only then, unfasten the brake hoses!

Which they didn't show happening. And, even with the brake hoses all connected, without a air pump constantly keeping the air lines charged, the air in the brake line would slowly leak out, eventually applying the brakes.

Conversely, when either of the locomotives caught up to the train, they wouldn't have had to couple onto the runaway to stop it, all they would have had to do was to get close enough for somebody to reach across and lean down and open the angle cock on the air line of the first car. Dangerous but not as risky as trying to couple onto the cars. Once the angle cock was open, the air would bleed out of the brake lines, automatically applying the brakes.

The movie claims to be based on real events, and if this is true, either they didn't show the brakes being "properly" misused in the film, or it was based on a story from the steam train days back before they had perfecting the Westinghouse air brake.

OK, ok ... here endeth the lesson! That all said, the movies was very enjoyable - for a one trick pony of a tale, of course. I mean, it's about a train that goes runabout from about the first 5 mins of the movie so how much external suspense can there be?! But for what it gives it packs a punch and as seen in the special features, director Tony Ridley does everything live and on location.

Finally, and bucking the unfortunate trend of DVDs packing minimal extras, this disc includes both a commentary by director Tony Scott as well as an informative "making-of" featurette that impresses the viewer with the scope of the production and the director's insistence on shooting as much as possible "in the camera." [SMG] This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.35:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

Audio Commentary with Director Tony Scott
The Fastest Track: Unleashing 'Unstoppable'