Plot: What’s it about?
Benjamin Martin (Mel Gibson) has served his time in military action, but he has no wish to return to his warlike ways. He has lost his wife, but still has several children to tend to and has no intentions of leaving them fatherless. But his oldest son, Gabriel (Heath Ledger) wants to be right on the front lines and enlists even without his father’s consent. Soon Gabriel returns home, though this time he is wounded and is mere hours in front of a massive battle. The battle spills right into the Martin’s property and when morning comes, the cruel Col. Tavington (Jason Isaacs) of the English army arrives and orders the death of Gabriel for carrying papers to American forces. As if that wasn’t enough, Tavington also kills a younger son when he tries to intervene and this drives Benjamin over the edge. He soon rallies his remaining sons, takes arms, and heads out to free Gabriel. After this mission works, he joins up with the American forces and works to amass a civilian team to hold off the English forces until the French arrive. But this is a personal mission as well and by the time the war ends, either Benjamin or Tavington will be dead by the other’s hand.
I am a sucker for period movies and since I also love action films, The Patriot seemed like a perfect match for my tastes. As it turned out, it was a good match and I viewed The Patriot more than a couple times at my local theater. I had a lot of fun with this movie and I think the action and emotional content rival that of any movies of this ilk (i.e. Braveheart or Gladiator). The acting is more than adequate, the battle sequences flat out rock, the production design is epic in scale, and simply put, this is a massive movie that offers a nice ride. Some people complain about “historical inaccuracies,” but then again, this is a MOVIE and not a documentary. Last time I checked, you sometimes need to suspend disbelief at the movies, this being no exception. If you want total realism, I happen to know that A&E offers some excellent documentaries about this subject matter. If you want an action packed movie with an epic backdrop, The Patriot will more than satisfy your needs. This new Superbit Deluxe edition from Columbia offers optimal video & audio, as well as most of the supplements from the previous disc. So if you want more extras, the prior disc will suffice, but if video & audio matter more, then this version is sure to please.
Although this role is much like another he has played, Mel Gibson still delivers a powerful and gripping performance in this movie. I never thought of his work in Braveheart and though they are similar, both remain distinct and different in a lot of ways. We see him in the battlefield a lot, but here the focus seems to be on his personal side, which works out very well in the end. We saw a lot of emotion from him in Braveheart, but I think he is more focused and impressive in this movie. I liked both performances and movies, but I like Gibson better in The Patriot. If you want to see more of Gibson’s work I recommend Braveheart, Conspiracy Theory, Chicken Run, Lethal Weapon 1-4, Ransom, Mad Max, and Gallipoli. The cast also includes Chris Cooper (American Beauty, A Time To Kill), Jason Isaacs (Dragonheart, Soldier), Heath Ledger (10 Things I Hate About You), Tcheky Karyo (Wing Commander, Addicted To Love), Tom Wilkinson (Rush Hour, The Full Monty), and Joely Richardson (Event Horizon, Return To Me).
Video: How does it look?
This is now the third incarnation for “The Patriot” and while the print looks clean, with no real marks or grain to be concerned with; the Superbit seems to take the edge – even though the image here does appear sharper in all respects. In this case, the material is still clean and looks terrific throughout. The detail is more refined, especially in subtle ways, such as distant visuals, or even the texture of fabrics, very cool indeed. The colors and contrast come through well also, although I didn’t notice much difference, aside from a few specific moments. In essence, the Superbit does look just a tad better, but if you’re wanting the Extended Cut of the film – this is your only choice.
Audio: How does it sound?
The Dolby Digital track on the previous version was excellent, but just a tad short of reference, and the DTS track from the Superbit release is not on this disc. The bass hits harder, but remains clean and tight, while the surround pulse with presence, from powerful blasts to subtle atmospheric touches. The Dolby Digital track would do anyone’s system proud, as it utlizes every speaker on more than one occasion. The battle scenes are excellent and there are a few times when, literally, the room shakes. A top notch effort here.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This new extended version of “The Patriot” seems to combine the best of both worlds in terms of supplements (but we do lose the DTS track and the Superbit transfer). This version of the film is 10 minutes longer with the additional scenes added back into the film and essentially all of the other extras have been ported over from the previous editions minus the commentary track from the first disc. Since we’ve covered both of those, there’s no need to re-invent the wheel.
It’s hard to recommend this version of “The Patriot”, as all it offers is 10 more minutes of footage back into the movie and the movie was 165 minutes before, so does that warrant another purchase? I would say “No”. Probably the best version to get would be the Superbit Deluxe edition as you get the best possible picture and sound with the extras. The choice, obvioulsy, is yours…