The Patriot appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. A fairly early Blu-ray, Patriot suffered form some of the format’s growing pains.
Sharpness could be erratic, especially during interior shots. Those tended to be somewhat mushy; definition wasn’t poor, but indoors elements could seem a bit on the fuzzy side and lacked strong delineation.
Exteriors came with their own issues, though they usually worked better than the interiors. Edge haloes were a persistent distraction, and they could give shots a soft, tentative feel. Parts of the movie came with reasonably good accuracy, but too much of it came across as lackluster.
I noticed no signs of jagged edges or shimmering, but as noted, edge haloes could be a problem. I also saw some “digital” tendencies throughout the film, and those rendered it somewhat harsh and less than film-like. At least the movie lacked print flaws.
The Patriot boasted a nicely naturalistic palette that came through acceptably well. The hues tended toward an amber feel and usually showed reasonable warmth, but the other issues with the transfer meant they could be less appealing than I’d like. Blacks were fairly dark, but as mentioned, shadows tended to seem somewhat dense and ill-defined. If given an updated transfer, I suspect The Patriot would shine, but this old Blu-ray suffered from obvious problems.
I felt happier with the Uncompressed PCM 5.1 soundtrack of The Patriot. Prior Emmerich/Devlin films offered killer mixes, and The Patriot also delivered excellent quality.
The soundfield seemed expansive and engaging throughout virtually the whole film, with audio placed precisely in the environment. All five channels appeared active, and they also blended together smoothly and cleanly; sounds moved between speakers naturally and the entire package created a strong soundstage.
Not surprisingly, the battle sequences stood out as the best. These provided the broadest environment and the most distinctive uses of sound. Gunfire flied around me and I felt involved in the war right down to the accentuated drumbeats. The track also maintained nicely effective ambiance during quieter moments, and the entire package seemed engaging.
Audio quality also appeared positive. Although much of the speech must have been dubbed, it never sounded awkward or artificial. Dialogue came across as distinct and natural, with no problems related to intelligibility. Music sounded clear and smooth; John Williams' score was bright and bold, and I especially loved the warm but crisp tones accorded the snare drums during battles.
Of course, those fight segments fared the best. The mix provided clean and accurate effects that packed a solid punch. Though the track became filled with the sounds of warfare, these elements never displayed any hints of distortion or shrillness. They seemed clear and detailed and presented some deep bass as well; the low end on this disc could be quite rich. Ultimately, The Patriot offered a fine auditory experience.
How did the Blu-ray compare to the Extended Cut DVD? Audio showed more pep, and visuals were a bit tighter and more dynamic – but not by a lot. The Blu-ray offered the superior presentation but not to the degree one would expect. Indeed, the format’s greater potential makes the transfer’s flaws more glaring.
A couple of the DVD’s extras repeat here. A nine-minute and 59-second piece called True Patriots provides some light history about the era with a few factoids. Comments appear from producers Mark Gordon and Dean Devlin, writer Robert Rodat, and costume designer Deborah Scott.
To add some historical credibility, Rex Ellis of the Smithsonian tells us that the filmmakers have done everything possible to make the movie accurate. Maybe, but that doesn't make this featurette any less "puffy" and promotional. Essentially the documentary exists to convince us that The Patriot is "serious history", and while the show is mildly entertaining, it doesn't really achieve its goals.
The Art of War runs for nine minutes, 47 seconds and provides an overall look at the making of the film. We hear from actors Mel Gibson, Heath Ledger and Jason Isaacs as well as director Roland Emmerich and stunt coordinator RA Rondell. The show provides a decent view of the movie, but it doesn't give us any depth or insight. I enjoy the parts that detail how the battle scenes were shot, but otherwise this is a standard promotional piece that touts the movie but does little else.
Previews presents a “Coming to Blu-ray” ad as well as a trailer for Legends of the Fall. No promo for Patriot appears here.
By no stretch of the imagination can one consider The Patriot to be a great film, and it features quite a few flaws. However, I found it to offer a fairly interesting and exciting ride, and though its nearly three-hour running time makes it drag on occasion, it usually kept me pretty focused. The Blu-ray provides excellent audio but comes with lackluster visuals and minor supplements. This ends up as a mediocre presentation of a sporadically enjoyable movie.
To rate this film, visit the SUPERBIT review of THE PATRIOT