Posted in: Disc Reviews by David Annandale on May 20th, 2004
The plot is as simple as that of any 40s or 50s World War II movie: in the immediateaftermath of the D-Day invasion, eight men (led by Tom Hanks) are sent on a dangerous missionto find the only surviving son of a decimated family and send him home.
On this simple framework, Spielberg hangs the most viscerally intense evocation of theSecond World War yet committed to film. The exhausting Omaha Beach sequence that opens thefilm has been justly celebrated, but there ar… other moments that are extremely powerful in theirown right: visions of civilians caught in the vortex of war, and a brutal scene of hand-to-handcombat are but two examples. The cumulative effect of the film is not unlike being smashedrepeatedly on the bridge of the nose with an iron bar. And I mean that as a compliment.
Duck! The 5.1 surround sound is deployed to brutal (in the good sense) effect. The separationand placement of sound effects are nothing less than superb, as a cannon fires on side and theexplosion hits in the opposite speakers. The you-are-there sense of the battle scenes is helpedimmeasurably by the sound design. Marvellous stuff.
There is some grain visible, but this is part of the gritty appeal of the cinematography. Thetransfer is, in most respects, beyond reproach. The colours are strong, varying from the grey,newsreel-with-blood look of the opening to hard greens elsewhere. The blacks are very strong aswell, and the image is perfectly sharp. There is a little bit of edge enhancement visible when thefigures are strongly backlit by a bright sky.
Both audio and sound, it should be noted, are identical in quality to the previous release. Inother words, this is the same transfer.
If the transfer is the same as the previous release, the extras are more involved (though notenormously so). All the bonus features are on disc 2. These consist of 8 featurettes, adding up toan 80-minute documentary (though they cannot be played continuously). These are all making-offeaturettes of one sort or another, clearly shot during the making of the film, and thus, at base,promotional. Still, they are more informative than many of their ilk, and break down into suchtopics as “Boot Camp” (working on the military verisimilitude of the film), “Miller and HisPlatoon” (Tom Hanks and the rest of the cast talk about their characters), “Making SavingPrivate Ryan” (production design, the battles, etc) and so on. The trailers and bios that werepresent on the previous release are now gone, however. The menu is fully animated and scored.The new box is pretty nifty too.
Bottom line: if you do not already own the film on DVD, then by all means pick this up. Ifyou DO already have it, the new edition looks and sounds the same, and its extras, thoughdifferent, are only about an hour longer than what you already have. Your call.
Special Features List
- 8 Making-of Featurettes (approx. 80 minutes worth)