PictureThe Patriot is only seven years old, and comes presented on Blu-ray with a superb 1080p High Definition video rendition in the movie's original theatrically broad aspect ratio of 2.4:1 widescreen. Detail is fantastic (check out the sweat beading on Gibson's face during the first ambush) almost throughout its near-three-hour runtime, with consistent clarity, negligible edge enhancement and very little grain indeed. The more sumptuous landscape shots are perfectly rendered, as are the furious battle sequences, and most of the close-ups are given some decent attention. The colour scheme is quite rich and vivid, full of browns and greens as the battle unfolds, with all of the tones (including, for the most part, the skin tones) across the broad palette given decent, realistic representation. Blacks are solid and make for superior shadowing, allowing for decent night or low-light sequences. The extra footage is predominantly difficult to distinguish from the normal Theatrical material in terms of video quality, and overall this is a very good video rendition. It may not be perfect, but it is still largely an excellent effort.
SoundTo accompany the movie we get an equally good Uncompressed PCM 5.1 mix that presents the soundtrack in extremely good light. Dialogue is never less than clear and coherent, largely coming from the fronts and centre channels, except in the battlefield cheers and cries, which break through to the rears. The bigger effects are mostly battle orientated, from the cannon fire to the musket fire and the hack and slash of Gibson's own guerrilla tactics, but the smaller, more ambient atmospheric effects are also well presented and given some nice spatiality across the surrounds. John 'Anything Lucas/Spielberg related' Williams' score is suitably patriotic, and works particularly well to up the tension during the more brutal confrontations, as well as sweeping the narrative along during the montages and dialogues. Bass is dominant only during the battles, but you do get a suitably nice little rumble in your room at these points. If you want to fully gauge the superiority of this track - and you have the equipment to do so - you can directly compare the Uncompressed mix with the standard Compressed Dolby Digital 5.1 alternative.
ExtrasIt is always a shame when a title does not have any High Definition-exclusive material and extras, let alone when it is devoid of a Commentary or decent Featurettes, but it is a downright travesty when you know that the previous - supposedly inferior - DVD edition boasted much of the above. Sure, we do get a couple of short and unsubstantial Featurettes, but gone are the full length Director's Audio Commentary, the Visual Effects Featurettes and the Photo Gallery. Although we do still get the Extended Edition, that simply does not excuse the shocking lack of clearly available Extra material. True Patriots and The Art of War are both ten-minute Featurettes which take an all-too brief Behind the Scenes look at the production, with some interview footage but insufficient and unsatisfying dissection of the epic movie. True Patriots looks at the authenticity of the weapons, formations, costumes and sets, whilst Art of War looks more at the accuracy of the battle tactics and strategies, and aside from these two limited extras all we get is a Trailer for Legends of the Fall.
VerdictIn the 18th Century, the British fought the French for control of the Colonies in America, the native American Indians suffering the worst from this conflict (as seen in The Last of the Mohicans). Just a few decades later, inner rebellion sees the War of Independence start up, whereby the Colonists (technically British) team up with their once-enemies, the French, to obtain independence from the British Empire. The Patriot is an epic production that eschews historical accuracy in favour of slurring the British and praising the Americans. What a surprise, after all, it is an American Production. Still, ignoring such historical inaccuracies and going into it just to enjoy the lead star (and avid Brit-basher) Mel Gibson on a bloody three-hour vendetta and you're likely to enjoy it quite a bit. On Blu-ray we see the movie in all the glory of High Definition, and have a superior audio track to accompany it, but the big let-down comes because of the sheer volume of extras that have NOT been included on this edition (but were on the previous DVD release). This is as marring to the disc as a whole as the inaccuracies are to the movie as a whole, and the end result is a mixed bag. Fans will have reservations about this edition - will there be a superior High Definition release somewhere down the line, complete with the Commentary etc. from the DVD version? And newcomers should be prepared to take this as a work of fiction, and that way they are sure to enjoy at least a rental.
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