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 [Editor: You tell ’em man!]. 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?
The Patriot is presented in a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. The previous transfer was good, but as per usual with this line, you’ll notice some small, but worthwhile improvements in the visuals. The print looks clean, with no real marks or grain to be concerned with, even though the image here does appear sharper in all respects. In prior Superbit titles, some flaws in the material were made more obvious by the enhanced video, but 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. So the original transfer was very good, but this new Superbit transfer edges it out in all respects, notch another impressive release in Columbia’s Superbit line.
Audio: How does it sound?
As always, this Superbit edition includes dual 5.1 tracks in Dolby Digital & DTS, both of which could be to showcase your home theater system. The Dolby Digital track on the previous version was excellent, but just a tad short of reference, but the new DTS option fills in the gaps and proves to be a demo level presentation. The bass hits harder, but remains clean and tight, while the surround pulse with presence, from powerful blasts to subtle atmospheric touches. I still think the Dolby Digital track would do anyone’s system proud, but if you have the choice, the DTS track is the way to go on this release. This disc also includes subtitles in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Korean, Chinese, and Thai.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Unlike previous Superbit editions, this two disc Superbit Deluxe houses some supplements, all of which were found on the previous disc. All of the extras are located on the second disc, since the first disc is reserved for maximum space for the film itself. You’ll find both the teaser and theatrical trailers, as well as some talent files. 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. Rounding out the extras are some conceptual art to film comparisons, which allow to see what changes were made in the process. So aside from the audio commentary track, all the extras have been ported over and while that loss is notable, I’d rather have some extras than none, no doubt about it.