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.
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?
The Patriot is presented in a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. This is not a reference quality visual transfer, but is as close as you can come without being perfect. The color scheme is natural and never too bright, but no bleeds emerge and flesh tones seem normal & warm also. The contrast remains sharp all through the film, with a high level of detail and black levels that appear to be well balanced. I also noticed no problems with compression, though there is some grain evident at times.
Audio: How does it sound?
This movie is loaded with high impact audio and a rousing musical score, so you know the included Dolby Digital 5.1 track is going to pack a serious punch. The surrounds sound off early and often in this mix, which will have the speakers pumpin’ and the neighbors complaining about the booms and bangs. Some terrific directional use can be heard almost at all times, while the fantastic musical score (by John Williams) is immersive and powerful also. The dialogue is never lost amid all this though, coming across in crisp & clean fashion. This disc also includes an English 2.0 surround track and subtitles in English & French.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This one isn’t called a special edition for nothing, as it comes loaded with bonus materials of all types. You’ll find both the teaser and theatrical trailers, as well as some talent files and a few scant production notes can be found in the liner booklet. But that’s just the start, as this disc also houses six deleted sequences (with optional director/producer commentary), a nice selection of still photos, a brief featurette on the historical aspect behind the film, and a ten minute piece on how the battle sequences were created. You can also find some interesting visuals effects featurettes, which allow you to see how a few of the effect were achieved. Also included is an audio commentary track with director Roland Emmerich and producer Dean Devlin, which proves to be an interesting and informative overall experience. Rounding out the extras are some conceptual art to film comparisons, which allow to see what changes were made in the process.