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|Category||Action||Menu Animation & Audio
Dolby Digital Trailer - City
Audio Commentary - Roland Emmerich (Director), Dean Devlin (Producer)
Interactive Featurettes - Visual Effects (5)
Featurette - True Patriots (9:59)
Featurette - The Art Of War (9:46)
Conceptual Art To Film Comparison
Theatrical and Teaser Trailers (1.85:1 (non-16x9), Dolby Digital 5.1)
Deleted Scenes (with optional commentary by Roland Emmerich)
Cast & Crew Biographies
|Running Time||157:06 Minutes|
Columbia Tristar Home Video
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 448Kb/s)
Hungarian (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.35:1|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||
Dutch Audio Commentary
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Originally, The Patriot was going to be the story of a real historical figure by the name of Francis Marion, who was also known as "the swamp fox", but historians informed the makers of some rather sordid aspects of that man's life. Among other things, those sordid aspects included his slaughtering of native Americans and his raping of his female slaves, so they decided to create a fictional story and a more likeable hero. On top of that, it seems that the moviemakers believe that they have the problems of bad acting and bad dialogue licked, now that they have computer-generated special effects and expensive wardrobes. About the only aspect of this film that doesn't constitute an anachronism is the villainy of the British army, and anyone with a functional cerebrum can tell you that this is only one side of the coin.
However, the real question is whether or not the film is entertaining when we suppress such grave historical misgivings, and unless you're offended by the most extreme examples thereof, the film will entertain. If you like pointing your finger at ridiculousness and laughing, then this film will give you plenty of opportunities to do just that. Perhaps viewing the same Mel Gibson who appeared in such intelligent pieces of historical drama as Braveheart and Gallipoli, although these periods of history are also distorted to suit the views of certain parties, in this piece of work tends to make me biased. Maybe it is the reports I've read about audiences cheering every time a soldier's head gets blown off or a soldier takes a bayonet in the face, while they act revolted when we see a doctor working on some soldier's blown-off leg that make me repulsed by the film. Of course, in addition to having his dead wife's sister, Charlotte (Joely Richardson) drooling all over him, our hero also has the happiest slaves in the state of South Carolina. Well, actually, they're not supposed to be his slaves, they just work for him! South Carolina has evolved so much in the last hundred years or so, we wouldn't want to sully their history by daring to imply that there used to be slavery in it, would we?
Colonel Benjamin Martin (Mel Gibson), aka "The Ghost", is a peace-loving man with seven children (much like the actor, no less) who simply wishes to live on his farm and let the American battle for independence sort itself out. After all, who would want to upset the apple cart when your sister-in-law is heaving her breasts at you like she's rehearsing for some new kind of sporting event? Of course, fate has other plans when Benjamin's son, Gabriel (Heath Ledger), joins the battle against his wishes. From there, we follow the Martins as they go from battle to battle with people dying all around them, while Roland Emmerich inserts a rather telegraphic close-up of Thomas Martin's (Gregory Smith) face while he has a certain look plastered on his face that just screams "I'm going to run in front of a bullet, hurrah!" or something like that. In short, Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin have produced yet another film with all the emotional and dramatic impact of a WWF wrestling match.
And that is pretty much where I am going to leave this plot synopsis because, regardless of what I tell you about this film, you are either going to buy it or leave it on the shelf for another customer who is not as concerned by historical fraud (as opposed to mere historical inaccuracy) as I am. Still, as I've said before, the primary concern is whether the film is entertaining, and if you can put aside all the problems I've just spent nearly an entire page outlining, then you will probably be entertained.
The transfer is very sharp in the foreground at all times, but any object that immediately isn't focused upon by the camera has a tendency to become blurred. Whether this is inherent in the photography or a transfer fault, I can't say for certain, but the film is very tightly compressed with the bitrate varying between three and seven megabits per second, and usually hovering around the lower end of that scale. I think this film really could have benefited from a similar dual-disc formatting to what was used with Fight Club and Gladiator, although the benefits would only be minor. Nonetheless, film grain and low-level noise are not an issue in this transfer, which was obviously taken from very clean source elements. The shadow detail is excellent, with plenty of subtle gradations between light and dark on offer.
The colour saturation of this transfer is bright and vivid when called for, and it is also suitably dingy for such scenes as the meetings in Benjamin Martin's swamp hideout. Splashes of blood figure prominently during battle scenes, with spurts of bright red flying across the screen quite frequently as the muskets and cannons roar. There are no problems with colour bleeding or oversaturation.
MPEG artefacts are not a problem in this transfer, although the total amount of data and action scenes on this disc does make me wonder exactly why there aren't abundant examples of posterization and macro-blocking. Film-to-video artefacts are also absent from this transfer, with no aliasing or telecine wobble apparent in the picture at any time. Film artefacts are a very minor issue in this transfer, with just the occasional white fleck appearing on a handful of frames scattered through the film.
This disc is RSDL formatted, with the layer change taking place at 83:03. This is a good place for the layer change, which is noticeable but doesn't interrupt the flow of the film too much.
There are three soundtracks included in this audio transfer: the original English dialogue, encoded in Dolby Digital 5.1 at the higher bitrate of 448 kilobits per second, as well as a Hungarian dub and an English Audio Commentary, both of which are encoded in Dolby Digital 2.0 with surround-encoding with a bitrate of 192 kilobits per second. Another area where the film could have benefited from dual-disc formatting is that the extra space could have been used to include a DTS soundtrack, but what we have here is good enough to make such complaints seem like minor nit-picking.
The dialogue is clear and easy to understand at almost all times, although there are moments when Tchéky Karyo's thick French accent made it a little difficult to understand his lines. None of the salient points of the story are lost as a result of dialogue intelligibility, so this is only a minor complaint about the way in which the film was made. There are no perceptible problems with audio sync.
The score music in this film is credited to the incomparable John Williams, and it is another example of why this man is the highest-rated composer in the film industry today. As brainless as the film might ultimately be, the score music keeps it alive by injecting a sense of urgency and drama into the proceedings, often acting as a proxy for the dialogue. While the score is not up to the standards of the Star Wars trilogy, i.e. you can imagine this film without the score music and vice versa, it is a great example of how music can make a film much better than it would otherwise be.
The surround channels are used frequently to support the music and sounds of battle, as well as a few ambient noises in the quieter moments of the film. For the most part, the soundtrack uses all five point one channels very effectively to create an immersive experience that makes the film just a little more engrossing than it should be. The sound field occasionally collapses into stereo during some dialogue-intensive sequences, but for the most part it is an immersive one that puts the viewer right in the thick of the battles. The subwoofer had a whale of a time supporting the music, horses, and gunfire in the soundtrack, all without calling any specific attention to itself.
The video quality is very good, although it does look like it could have used a few more bits in places.
The audio quality is also very good, with only the occasional lapse in surround channel usage.
The extras are comprehensive.
|DVD||Toshiba SD-2109, using S-video output|
|Display||Samsung CS-823AMF (80 cm) in 16:9 and 4:3 modes, calibrated using the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.|
|Audio Decoder||Built In (Amplifier)|
|Amplification||Sony STR-DE835, calibrated using the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Yamaha NS-45 Front Speakers, Yamaha NS-90 Rear Speakers, Yamaha NS-C120 Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Active Subwoofer|