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COMMENTARY

2012 Film Olympics: The heat is on

Posted July 27, 2012 at 12:35 PM CDT

By John Couture

Opening ceremonies. It's not only the official start of the Olympics, but it sets a tone for the entire games. It's a time for the host city to show off while all of the eyes of the world are watching.

In 2008, Beijing set the bar somewhere near the stratosphere and I feel sort of bad for London for having to follow such an impressive display. However, I don't feel that bad, I mean London still has a living Beatle or two in its back pocket.

Speaking of music, that's one of the main things that I'm looking forward to seeing tonight. London has a pretty rich culture to draw upon for tonight's festivities, but its music scene is one that will surely be a heavy focus.

I mean, it's not like Jack the Ripper is going to make a cameo. Although, wouldn't it be so cool if London took this moment to conclusively finger the trail-blazing and still unknown serial killer?

Yeah, that's not going to happen.

But what will happen tonight is that in the crowning moment, some British icon is going to light the Olympic torch. Who that will be is still anyone's guess, but it will certainly be THE moment tonight and what better way to honor that event than to give out a few medals to fire.

I'm not talking about Chariots of Fire or Great Balls of Fire here. No, I'm talking about those films in which fire is a major character.

BRONZE

I'm a sucker for a Stephen King story on the big screen. In her follow-up to E.T., Drew Barrymore proved that she wasn't a one-hit wonder as the titular pyrokinetic, aka Firestarter, who uses her powers to fight the shadowy government agency that conducted experiments on her parents. Some might forget that Heather Locklear and Martin Sheen fill out the cast rather nicely.

This film stands up to the test of time and the fire sequences are as searing as Drew herself.

SILVER

Frequency is one of my guilty pleasures. Every few months I throw it in and all is right with the world. Criminally underrated, this film has a little of everything and really connects with most audiences. Dennis Quaid as a fireman is easy enough to buy and there are numerous extended fire scenes.

Once you get past the whole time-traveling communication plot device, the films delivers on many fronts. During one key scene, it's almost as if the fire takes over the film as it holds the fates of many characters in its "hands." The fought valiantly, but ultimately they leave with silver.

GOLD

Is there any question about the gold medal worthiness of Backdraft? It is the pinnacle of all films about fire and firefighters. From filmmaker Ron Howard, this film did for firefighters what Top Gun did for Navy Pilots or The Godfather did for Italian mob types.

They held off a stiff challenge from Frequency, but in the end, there was really no doubt.

Universal is jumping out to an early lead in the medal count, but remember it's not how you start, it's how you finish. With historical standouts like Disney and Fox so far absent from the medal count, you have to think it's only a matter of time before Universal relinquishes its lead.

Make sure you come back tomorrow as things start to get a bit frosty.

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