The Patriot (2000) (Superbit)

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Released 3-Jan-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Dolby Digital Trailer-City
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2000
Running Time 158:04 (Case: 165)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (79:32) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Roland Emmerich
Studio
Distributor

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Mel Gibson
Heath Ledger
Joely Richardson
Chris Cooper
Tchéky Karyo
Jason Isaacs
Case Soft Brackley-Opaque
RPI $49.95 Music John Williams


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Dutch
Hindi
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    The Patriot is one of my all-time favourite home-theatre gems. I have owned every version of this DVD in R1 and R4, and to finally have my hands on the R4 Superbit has brought me great pleasure.

    Interestingly, when I first saw The Patriot theatrically, I was a little disappointed. Indeed, at the time I described it to a friend as being a poor remake of Braveheart. When the R1 DVD was to be released, I pre-ordered it not for the movie, but as it was to be the first R1 DVD to be released with the new Regional Coding enhancement (RCE), a digital enhancement added mainly to Columbia Tri-Star (Sony) DVDs to prevent them from being played in multi-zone DVD players. However, once the DVD arrived, and I had happily played it on my DVD player, something strange happened: Every time I watched it, I grew to like the movie more. Indeed, I have had the same experience with all of director Roland Emmerich and producer Dean Devlin's movies, such as Independence Day and Godzilla. I initially shuffled out of the movie theatre thinking "that was cr*p", but within a year or so, they are my favourite home-theatre gems. Great movies for a rainy Sunday afternoon, or a Friday night at home alone.

    The plot of the movie calls upon that old plot standby: 'father seeks revenge for killed loved ones'. This gets trotted out quite a bit, and not just in Death Wish revenge-style movies - for example, consider the plot of Gladiator. However, I note that Mel Gibson seems to find himself in these roles often. If you look over Mel's filmography, you will find that in many of his best known films he is a father/husband seeking revenge for the death of a loved one, such as in Mad Max, Braveheart and Hamlet. In Lethal Weapon 1 they seem to have forgotten this plot cliché, so it was written into the script for Lethal Weapon 2, (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) to allow Mel to kill the man who murdered his wife.

    In The Patriot, Benjamin Martin (Mel Gibson) is a former soldier, and farmer, who desperately tries to avoid having his family involved in the American War of Independence. However, as war envelops the country, Benjamin's family is dragged into the conflict when his son, Gabriel (Heath Ledger), enlists as a soldier to fight against the British. Benjamin initially suppresses his patriotic ideals as he struggles to hold his family together with the help of his sister-in-law, Charlotte (Joely Richardson). Soon war will visit on Benjamin's home, and the consequences for all will be bloody.

    I find the history of this war a fascinating one, not least because this was the first major World conflict of this scale fought over a political idea -- elected politicians seeking freedom from foreign oppression. The war was not essentially about borders, or taxation, but political self-determination. The success of the colonials helped usher in the Age of Revolution, and the Western World was forever changed. One must also consider the consequences for Australia. When convicts could no longer be sent to the US after the mid-1780s, a new colony had to be found. While there are some historical inaccuracies within the movie, as is to be expected, overall, the presentation of the conflict is fairly well done. Surprisingly, for an American film, it does acknowledge the important contribution another nation made, the French. I have noticed that many American WW2 movies, for example, don't even acknowledge any of the other allied powers that also fought against Germany and Japan. The thorny issue of slavery is also not overlooked -- the hypocrisy of a slave-owning nation fighting for freedom.

    The movie features magnificent production values. The movie was shot on location in South Carolina, and the cinematography is truly marvellous, as is the score, costumes, acting, stunts and visual/sound effects.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    In comparing the original DVD to the Superbit version, I found a subtle, but noticeable, improvement in the image, and a very obvious improvement in the DTS audio over the original Dolby Digital 5.1 audio.

    As I wrote in my recent review of the Superbit version of Bram Stoker's Dracula, "I note that the back of this DVD claims that all Superbit DVDs "double the bit rate of the original". This does not appear to be the case. Secondly, the internal packaging claims that Superbit DVDs offer "pure picture and sound with no limitations". Well, considering that the movie is still compressed, and that there is only so much room on a disc, I imagine that there are some limitations."

    Again, using DVD software, I examined the two largest files on each disc. As I wrote last time, "I freely admit that this is not a very scientific comparison, as I am not necessarily comparing apples with apples, however it will provide a crude comparison in terms of the average bit rate and compression for those files". Looking at 26,325 frames (very roughly about 18 minutes) from the original DVD, and 20,062 frames from the Superbit version (very roughly about 14 minutes), I found the following: The original had an average bit rate of 6.242 megabits per second, while the Superbit version averaged 8.559 megabits per second. On average, the level of compression was slightly less on the Superbit version.

    Again, the real test, however, is how it looks. As I noted in my last review, "there are a few DVDs with relatively low bit rates, such as the single-layer, original version of The 5th Element, which are demonstration discs."

    The transfer is presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1. It is 16x9 enhanced.

    The image is razor sharp and detailed. For example, consider Mel's face at 29:39. Again, it is the increased detail that separates the Superbit from the original. A number of images looked better to me in the Superbit version, such as: the ship's intricate rigging (8:18), the crowd (15:10), the buckle design on Mel's 'belt' (70:52), and the lettering on the sign (74:12), All these images seemed to exhibit greater detail and clarity.

    The shadow detail is excellent. For example, consider the shadowy scene at 43:07. The black level is also excellent.

    Complementing the gorgeous cinematography is the well saturated colours and accurate skin tones. The use of light in the movie is brilliant, and a number of scenes are purposely shot at dawn or dusk.

    As expected with Superbit, there are no problems with MPEG or film-to-video artefacts.

    As with the original DVD, film artefacts appear throughout, but they are just small flecks. An example can be seen at 22:01. Also, as with the original, there is mild edge enhancement on occasion, but I never found it distracting.

    Four sets of subtitles are present on the DVD, and the English subtitles are accurate.

    This is an RSDL disc, and the first Superbit disc that I have seen where there is a clumsy and obvious layer change (79:32)

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The original DVD contained three soundtracks: English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448 KBPS), and Hungarian and English Audio Commentary, both Dolby Digital 2.0 with surround-encoding (192 KBPS). The Superbit DVD offers English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448 KBPS), and DTS (768 KBPS). As I've found with other discs, listening to both tracks I preferred the DTS track, which seemed to enjoy a greater range, and much deeper bass. Of course the fidelity and quality of both audio options are excellent. Again, the DTS audio is the default option. As I wrote in a previous Superbit review, "the disappointing feature is the compromise made with the DTS audio. Any home theatre buff, (the Superbit market) knows that DTS is capable of being encoded at 1509 KBPS. As an aside, I own the R1 edition of Twister SE, which has 1509 KBPS DTS audio, and it remains one of my favourite 'demo discs'. Considering the Superbit promise (see above), this is a sad compromise".

    The dialogue quality and audio sync are excellent on both audio tracks.

    The stirring and haunting musical score is credited to the great John Williams, who has again turned out another movie masterpiece. I recall his work here was nominated for an Oscar, but I seem to recall that the score for Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon won that year.

    The surround presence and activity is extremely aggressive and immersive. The rear speakers are used throughout to help carry the score, such as at 26:12, and to provide surround effects, such as the rain at 63:40. There are also some great audio panning between the two rears, such as bullets that whiz about one's ears during the battle at 24:09.

    The subwoofer is also utilized very effectively to support both the score and the effects, for example, during the battle at 17:55.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    As a Superbit title, there are no extras.

Menu

    A very simple menu, presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, it is static and silent.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The original R1 and R4 Superbit versions of this movie are the same, except for the NTSC/PAL difference, and the packaging. However, Columbia Tri-Star has recently introduced the “Superbit Deluxe” line of DVDs. This basically includes a second disc with the original extras.

    The R4 misses out on the second disc, which includes:

    Thus I must favour the R1 Superbit. However, as I already have these extras on the previous R4 version, I don't miss them.

Summary

    The Patriot is another great Superbit DVD. If you, like me, are a fan of this movie, have a larger screen, DTS capability, and can afford to 'upgrade', then I would thoroughly recommend it. The DTS audio is astounding!

    The video quality is close to perfect.

    The audio quality is magnificent.

    There are no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Brandon Robert Vogt (warning: bio hazard)
Friday, February 07, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-535, using S-Video output
DisplayGrundig Elegance 82-2101 (82cm, 16x9). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationSony STR DE-545
SpeakersSony SS-V315 x5; Sony SA-WMS315 subwoofer

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Extra superbit is coming - Neil (I dont want a fucking bio)
RE Extra superbit is coming - Lord Breetai
DTS ES and DD5.1 EX - Alex McCaffrey
RE DTS ES and DD5.1 EX - Stimpy (da, what's a bio Ren?)
DTS ES & DD EX - Gunner
RE DTS ES & DD EX - Stimpy (da, what's a bio Ren?)
PAL Superbit DVDs from $21 to $24, but there's a small catch. - Ben H (My biography. Go on have a read...)