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September 4, 2007
The Patriot Extended Edition - Blu-Ray Movie Review
Cinema Release Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
20/7/20003/7/2007Sony PicturesRoland Emmerich
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)
AVCDD5.1 640kbps
PCM 4.6Mbps
MA15+Mel Gibson

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Heath Ledger and Mel Gibson.
Mel Gibson is, despite the odd drunken racist rant, a powerhouse when it comes to cinema. Not only does he have series like Lethal Weapon under his belt but has some of the best movies of the last decade as well including Braveheart, We Were Soldiers, Apocalypto and this movie, The Patriot. Directed by uber director Roland Emmerich (Independence Day, Godzilla and The Day After Tomorrow) this is another fantastic title and also helped launch the career of Aussie Heath Ledger into the stratosphere. If you haven't seen this movie yet, you're in for something special but with this extended edition having a runtime of just under 3 hours you will want to get comfortable first.

In 1776 South Carolina, widower and legendary war hero Benjamin Martin (Mel Gibson) finds himself thrust into the midst of the American Revolutionary War as he helplessly watches his family torn apart by the savage forces of the British Redcoats. Unable to remain silent, he recruits a band of reluctant volunteers, including his idealistic patriot son, Gabriel (Heath Ledger), to take up arms against the British. fighting to protect his family's freedom and his country's independence, Martin discovers the pain of betrayal, the redemption of revenge and the passion of love.

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Mel, a gun is probably more useful then a flag.
It must be said that The Patriot isn't quite up to the lofty standards set by Braveheart, although there is certainly a similar theme or revenge running through the two stories. Still, there is no denying that this is an epic movie that sits well ahead of most other action movies in cinemas today. Even if Braveheart wasn't your type of movie The Patriot is quite a different piece as director Roland Emmerich brings his own style and flare to the movie with scenes ranging from majestically beautiful (especially some of the scenery) to the downright brutal. Most importantly it is the scale of the movie that impresses the most. Battlefields in particular have been stunningly recreated with thousands of actors put together, each with as much detail and authenticity as the main actors, costumes and props. In saying that, The Patriot is a brilliant period piece - costumes and props (including the many weapons) deserve a mention as they are simply stunning.

In terms of acting I found the dialogue a little slow at times but overall it's solid enough. Acting is superb from everyone, and yet again Mel Gibson shows that he can carry a movie with much charm and charisma, but also plenty of dramatic touches. Heath Ledger, in one of his first movie roles is superb as Gabriel and puts in a heartfelt performance from start to finish. It's pretty easy to see why he has become one of the most bankable stars today. The secondary actors also play their roles perfectly with Jason Isaacs as Colonel William Tavington putting in a fine performance as the 'bad guy' in the movie. I guess that, much like Braveheart there is some disappointment that the storyline isn't as accurate to real-life events as the production values. Overall The Patriot is a great movie which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Presented in the original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 this transfer holds up very well indeed - in fact it is probably as close to reference quality as we have seen on a Blu-Ray disc to date. Using AVC encoding there is no denying the beauty of this transfer. The colours are rich with excellent detail even in the darkest of shadows. The smallest details stand out from the stitch work on clothing, to the blades of grass in the fields or the blood splattering during battles - all are crystal clear. Explosions have an immediate impact with debris flying in all directions while the battlefield is intense to say the least. No matter how frantic it gets though this transfer remains crystal clear. If you want an example have a look from 20:37 to 22:20 as the letter is being read out, and the battlefields shown to see some of the wonderful imagery this movie, and transfer offers. This is certainly a massive improvement over the DVD version of The Patriot. What makes this even more striking is that the movie runs for a lengthy 2 hours 55 minutes.

Finding faults is nigh on impossible. We noticed a couple of scenes which showed some film grain and very occasionally the contrast seems a little out however we're certain this is a remnant from the original source print rather then the transfer.

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Costumes in this period piece are impressive.
While the video is great, the audio is what we would call as perfect as it can get. First of all we have a magnificent Dolby Digital 5.1 track at 640kbps - not as high a bitrate as we would like but good enough. Dialogue and indeed all effects are clear throughout with solid use of both the surround channels, and the sub-woofer. The music sound wonderful with the legendary John Williams providing a glorious score. If that's not enough Sony Pictures have included French, Czech and Polish Dolby Digital 5.1 audio at 620kbps. Each of these is just as impressive as the English audio.

So we're extremely happy with the Dolby Digital audio, however its the PCM track at 4.6Mbps that takes it to a whole new level. The clarity of audio from this track is second to none. There's a lot more clarity in the effects in particular, and during the battle's you'll be jumping off your seat. The only way this could sound even better would be with 7.1 audio - but that may still be a little way off.

The Patriot was released on DVD with plenty of extras including a pretty interesting Audio Commentary from director Roland Emmerich and producer Dean Devlin. There are several video featurettes, photo galleries and deleted scenes on the disc - but sadly most have been omitted for this Blu-Ray release. While this disc may be full due to the length of the feature movie we really can't see how a small commentary at 192kbps (and probably only a 300Mb in size or less) could have compromised quality on this disc. I sense double dipping coming up. Anyway what do we have on this release...

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Video quality on this Blu-Ray disc is stunning.
The Art of War (9:47):

    Presented in Standard Definition MPEG-2 (although with a bitrate often above 10Mbps) this looks at what it's like to be in a battle and what it takes to push ones self to the limit. The filming of the battle scenes in the movie were a major effort - and this documentary looks at how it was filmed.

True Patriots (9:59):

    Presented in Standard Definition this is an all-too-brief featurette looks at the work that went into recreating the costumes, items and look of the 1770's.

Legends of the Fall Trailer (2:18/HD):

    Presented in High Definition using the MPEG-2 codec and 640kbps Dolby Digital 5.1 audio this is a trailer for the movie which, unsurprisingly, is coming out on Blu-Ray soon.

While The Patriot isn't quite up to the standards set by Braveheart, it is still an extremely impressive movie. The acting and direction is superb and while there are moments where the movie could have been paced a little better it's still enjoyable throughout. What can't be faulted is the stunning transfer offered by Sony Pictures on this Blu-Ray disc. In terms of both video and audio this title is a winner. The real disappointment comes with the lack of extras - as a result this stumbles as an 'overall' package but is still a reference disc to show off the capabilities of the Blu-Ray format.

Review By: Dave Warner


Note: All images in this article are Copyrightę Sony Pictures. They are only indicative of the movie and not sourced from the vastly superior Blu-Ray disc format.