Mel Gibson stars as reluctant guerilla fighter Benjamin Martin in this story of courage, passion, and war, which dramatizes elements from the American Revolution into a gripping fictional narrative that will manipulate every emotion you have until its rousing finale. Martin endures great personal tragedies at the hands of the British – in particular, the despicable Colonel William Tavington (played with the vile gusto of a demon from Hell by Jason Isaacs). Tavington has already killed one of Martin’s sons, and it is …enjamin’s concern for his other – as well as his insatiable lust for revenge – that drives him to take up arms for the Continentals and lead them into battle… and perhaps, freedom.
Whether it’s tugging at heart strings, or planting viewers right in the middle of primitive warfare (no type of warfare is capable of being anything but), The Patriot maintains control of its audience, and only lets go at the final credits. Be forewarned, if you’ve never seen it. There will be times when you want to stop the film for fear of what might happen to Benjamin at Tavington’s brutal hands. Then, other moments are “damn the torpedoes,” kill that expletive-expletive, if it’s the last thing you ever do. The point is, it will involve you the way few films can, and will actually have a physical effect on you – of some kind – by the time it reaches its conclusion.
The new ten minutes are welcome, but they aren’t necessary to the impact of the film. Neither do they detract. Just don’t get caught up in thinking about what’s new and what’s not, and get ready to discover – or rediscover – one terrific film.
I really don’t think the 2.35:1 anamorphic presentation has changed much from the first release of the film to DVD. In fact, the only exception is the new footage, which now looks just as good as the rest of the film. Grain and edge enhancement are non-existent. Flesh tones have the accurate grit you would expect from a war movie, and the inclusion of realistic coloring gets a welcome dose of enhancement from the portrait-like set design. It’s like watching the great paintings that depicted this time period in American history come to life.
Loaded with four audio choices, the disc makes the most of its 5.1 English track. The battle scenes are stunning. The whiz of a cannonball bouncing through a battlefield and leaving unspeakable carnage in its wake, and other such violent occurrences, will keep you on edge and doing a 360-degree turn for safety right in the comforts of your own living room. Best of all, there is a clear audio progression across all five speakers through the busy scenes, as well as a strong volume for dialogue and the various other nooks and crannies of the sound rendering. While the first edition is still on equal footing, this track is the kind you should expect from a major studio release.
Four brief, but informative, featurettes are provided, which include the following: The True Patriots (referencing source inspirations for the characters); The Art of War (a fascinating look at the creation of the film’s authentic battle scenes); Visual Effects (exactly what it says, but could have used more detail); and Conceptual Art to Film Comparisons (a bit more fun than its Visual Effects counterpart, but still too brief for a special edition). The bad part: all of these features are exactly what you get on the previous special edition release. Also, the audio commentary from last time around is not included. The good part: the features provided are worthwhile, and still add value, in addition to the new footage.
Featuring a fantastic cast with apt direction and breathtaking production values, The Patriot recalls a time not too long ago when it was okay to be proud of your heritage, even if it was imperfect or a bit barbaric. The extended version of the film offers ten additional minutes, which are not essential to the story, but do not detract from it either. If it’s been a while since you’ve watched this excellent film, the extended cut is a great way to get reacquainted. The A/V has not regressed since the film’s initial release, while the bonus features, though abridged, still provide enough morsels for your viewing pleasure. Will you be missing out on a lot by not double dipping? No. But if you haven’t yet added this one to your collection, I find no fault in making this package your version of choice.
Special Features List
- Featurette: Visual Effects
- Featurette: The Art of War
- Featurette: Conceptual art to film comparisons
- Featurette: The True Patriots
- Photo galleries