Starring: Mel Gibson, Tcheky Karyo, Heath Ledger, Jason Isaacs and Tom Wilkinson
Directed by: Roland Emmerich
Movie Summary: [Drama]
Bejamin Martin is a reluctant hero who is swept into the American Revolution when the war reaches his home and threatens his family. A hero of the fierce French and Indian conflict, Martin had renounced fighting forever to raise his family in peace. But when the British arrive at his South Carolina home and endanger what he holds most dear, Martin takes up arms alonside his idealistic patriot son, Gabriel, and leads a brave rebel Militia into battle against a relentless and overwhelming English army. In the process, he discovers the only way to protect his family is to fight for a young nation's freedom.
Widescreen: 2.35:1 (anamorphic), DD 5.1 and 2.0, Color, Surround, Additional Languages: French, Subtitles: English, French, Closed Captioned, Region 1
Commentary with Director Roland Emerich and Producer Dean Devlin / Visual Effects Featurette / Battlefield Featurette 'The Art of War' / Additional Featurette / Conceptual Art to Film Comparisons / Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary with Filmmakers / Photo Galleries / DVD-ROM Weblinks / Theatrical Trailers / Talent Files / Interactive Menus with Animation / Produciton Notes /
enjamin Martin is the son William Wallace never had. He would have certainly made his father proud. Mel Gibson’s legendary war heroes are so common now a-days, they’re like Hondas and the resale value seems consistently good. At the time, I had to do a double-take when I caught my first glimpse of Tom Hanks leading the pack in Saving Private Ryan when I was sure expecting to see Captain John Miller and his long, thick mane of flowing chocolate-colored hair single handedly lead a conquering crusade against the Nazi Germans at the shores of France on D-Day. But amidst my surprise I thought - surely by this time he’s already in Berlin.
It’s no secret that if movies were real and Shirley MacLaine’s rantings of resurrection were true - the ‘Book of Heroes Who Saved Mankind’ would surely index Mel Gibson just behind Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger amongst the names at the list’s top. We’re a society that is enraptured by the prodigious feats of heroes when their courageous, yet sometimes touching stories are told. So, it is no surprise that the Hollywood studios consistently bank on these tales of triumph when in search of the almighty capitalistic dollar.
The Patriot pulls Gibson into the lead role of the super motivated, revenge-seeking, unsuspecting and reluctant leader who’s anti-war sentiments are thrown out the window once the unwelcome British and their ever-important crates of tea bags compromise the security and safety of his family during the American Revolution. This of course would be the one mistake the British couldn’t elegantly bully their way out of. He quickly takes to arms in search of bloodying the Limey’s already red-colored jackets and disheartening the morale of their leading officers. Coming off the heels of The 13th Floor, which never got off the ground level, Director Roland Emmerich [Independence Day, Godzilla, Stargate] delivers us to vintage colonial times amidst the war for American freedom. And who better to lead the militia of American patriot fighters then the man that coined the exultant phrase himself. The Patriot packs all the typical wartime emotion into its two hours and forty-five minutes from the lowest of overwhelmingly depressed lulls to exuberant conquests of men and women on and off the battlefield. Superlative acting and sincere directing to capture these key performances in conjunction with a healthy dosage of action give The Patriot a strong presence. It’s major weakness falls within its length - and at just under three hours, it’s difficult for any director to keep the story focused.
Columbia / TriStar’s special edition rendition of this film on DVD is a good one no doubt. It’s also the first disc to incorporate the RCE (Regional Code Enhancement) technology that makes it unreadable in DVD players that have been modified to read discs from any region (“region-free”). As has been the case with Columbia / TriStar DVDs from the beginning, the video of this disc performs at the top of the scale with another anamorphic widescreen transfer. Apart from yet another masterfully crafted score from John Williams [Star Wars, everything else good], the audio presentation consists of typical wartime atmospheres with the sounds of distant explosions to the fluttering hissing of a lead ball fired from a musket. The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is solid and active at all junctures giving a large workout at the four corners. The best audio performance goes to the violent clash between Benjamin Martin and a platoon of British soldiers after they have left he and his family in despair at the beginning of the film.
The disc sports animated menus accompanied by excerpts of Williams’ score at nearly every screen. The scenes selection screen offers animated shots from each scene leaving me with the impression that the technical author’s of this disc handled their transitions well. Special Features include the common talent files and theatrical trailer/teaser. Note that these trailers are in full Dolby Digital 5.1. The packaging mentions the presence of production notes, but I was unable to locate any on the disc I received. Despite the lack of this production information, one can get a peek behind-the-scenes through a series of three featurettes, one of which is interactive. The interactive piece is a look at two particular visual effects pieces within the film where the screen is separated into three sections, each demonstrating different segments of the work that went into the subject scene. The viewer can select which window of the three they would like to focus on during the demonstration. The second 9- minute featurette, ‘The Art of War’, centers around the strategies of war exercised during that part of our history as well as the logistics of filming the battles in the movie. The final featurette, ‘True Patriots’ looks more at the history that came of the era including France’s involvement and the combination of the events and slavery in a time of war. In addition, there is discussion of the Smithsonian’s active involvement and a look at the costume design. The Photo Gallery section consists mostly of images from the film filed into categories for each actor and then a separate section of behind-the-scenes images. I found the Conceptual Art to Film Comparisons feature of this particular disc nifty in its ease-of-use and efficiency. The drawings lead into short real-life recreations from the film that give you an idea of the before and after production results. The key here is that the scenes from the film are short transitions keeping the pace moving as the viewer makes their way through the feature. Director Roland Emmerich and his longtime producer pal, Dean Devlin, sit down for an audio commentary that also carries over into the Deleted Scenes as an optional feature. At first glimpse, I concluded that many of these deleted scenes were right on par with the rest of the film and that they must have removed them because of time constraints. Dean Devlin confirmed this in the optional commentary. The deleted scenes were a good addition. And yes - as you’ll see, it’s normal for two of the deleted scenes to be highlighted at the same time in the menu.
In theme with his films, Mel Gibson’s latest visit to DVD is as much a triumph as are his onscreen abilities to wage war and achieve success over the enemy. In this case, the only enemy here is your slender bank account (hey, we’re all DVD collectors here) that yearns not for another withdraw. But, in the name of freedom - every true patriot would find something about this DVD to justify it a spot in one’s collection.