The Patriot appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Both earlier incarnations of the film looked great, and this one continued that trend.
Sharpness appeared flawless at all times. Never did I notice any soft or murky images, as the movie always seemed crisp and detailed. Moiré effects and jagged edges provided no concerns, and I also noticed no signficant signs of edge enhancement. Print flaws seemed minimal. I detected a couple of speckles and that was it. The movie remained very clean.
The Patriot boasted a nicely naturalistic palette that came through wonderfully on this DVD. I especially cared for the colors seen in the various uniforms. We witnessed some excellent blues and reds in the clothes, and the green tones of the many outdoor settings also looked lovely. Black levels seemed deep and rich, and contrast was fine. Shadow detail also appeared clear and clean, with no concerns related to excessive opacity. The movie used some warm and dappled sunlight to create solid lighting effects, and the DVD showed them well. All in all, the image seemed very strong.
Even better was the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of The Patriot. Prior Emmerich/Devlin films offered killer mixes, and though it's not quite as flashy as Independence Day or Godzilla, The Patriot also delivered excellent quality. The soundfield seemed extremely expansive and engaging throughout virtually the whole film, with audio placed precisely in the environment. All five channels appeared extremely active, and they also blended together smoothly and cleanly; sounds moved between speakers naturally and the entire package created a very 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 totally 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 very engaging.
Audio quality also appeared excellent. Although much of the speech must have been dubbed, I never felt it 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 sounded the best. The mix provided extremely 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 DVD could be quite rich. Ultimately, The Patriot offered a tremendously fine auditory experience.
The Patriot features a number of video programs about the film. A nine-minute and 58-second piece called True Patriots provides some light history about the era with a few factoids. Mainly we hear from the filmmakers; comments appear from producers Mark Gordon and Dean Devlin, writer Robert Rodat, and costume designer Deborah Scott. To add some historical credibility, we find Rex Ellis of the Smithsonian; he 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.
A more general program appears as well. The Art of War runs for nine minutes and 45 seconds and provides an overall look at the making of the film. We hear from a mix of cast and crew, including actors Gibson, Heath Ledger, and Isaacs, director Emmerich, and stunt coordinator R.A. Rondell. The show provides a decent view of the movie, but it doesn't give us any depth or insight. I enjoyed the parts that detailed how the battle scenes were shot, but otherwise this is a standard promotional puff piece that touts the movie but does little else.
One additional video program appears, the Interactive Visual Effects Featurette. In this area, we see and hear some details about five different effects scenes from The Patriot. For each scene, we can choose from three different aspects of it; the other two run in small sub-boxes in the lower half of the screen while your choice fills the upper half. Visual effects supervisor Stuart Robertson narrates all of them. Overall, the coverage of the effects is fairly superficial, but this segment provides a decent look at the topics.
Four different Photo Galleries appear. These cover “Mel Gibson”, “Heath Ledger”, “The Family” and “Behind the Scenes”. These add up to a total of 53 shots. The photos are pretty dull, frankly; most are just shots of the action depicted in the movie, and even in the "Behind the Scenes" section we don't find any fun or revealing images.
Much more interesting is Conceptual Art to Film Comparisons, a fairly fun and creative feature. Here we find 13 different conceptual paintings done for the film. Press "play" on the screen and you'll get to see a few seconds of footage that corresponds to the art. This was a great way to present this material and it made some potentially drab information intriguing. I hope more DVDs use this style, as it works well for the subject.
Finally, we get a few Filmographies. The DVD offers listings for director Roland Emmerich, producer Dean Devlin, writer Robert Rodat, and actors Gibson, Ledger, Joely Richardson, Chris Cooper and Jason Isaacs. Note that these are “Selected Filmographies”, so they don’t include extensive rosters of flicks. They’ve been updated to account for work through 2005, though it seems strange the Ledger listing doesn’t mention Brokeback Mountain.
So what does this edition of The Patriot omit from the original? In addition to some production notes from the DVD’s booklet, we lose an audio commentary from director Roland Emmerich and producer Dean Devlin. That sounds like a bad thing, but for those of us who actually listened to the track, we don’t miss it too much. The commentary included a few interesting points, but it lacked much depth and it suffered from the insanely inarticulate ways of Emmerich. Taken from my original review, please enjoy this statement that demonstrates Emmerich’s speech patterns:
"It's simply a fact, you know, that this happened, I mean, there was like kind of extremely young kids in the war effort and there's also like kind of this moment where like kind of you have to... you have to, where he has to, the character has to kind of like make this moral decision, now he's only kind of set on kind of like kind of trying to kind of rescue his son and, uh, he knows that he, in a way, he has to kind of do everything you know to get his son, and one kind of choice is to give his, uh, kids like guns to try to help him distract, you know, the soldiers from him while he, you know, so it's more possible for him to kind of like kind of save him." You try to sit through almost three hours of that!
Obviously, this disc drops the deleted scenes from the prior releases since it incorporates most of them into the film. Unfortunately, this means we also can’t hear the commentary that came with those clips. In an odd choice, this DVD’s “Photo Galleries” abbreviate the prior ones. We lose about half the pictures from the original 110-snap package. The “Extended Cut” also omits the previous DVD’s trailers.
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 DVD provides absolutely terrific picture and sound plus some decent extras.
Is there any reason for fans to bother with this “Extended Cut” of The Patriot? I don’t think so. It presents picture and audio that seem virtually the same as prior DVDs, and the longer edition of the film doesn’t make it any better. It also loses some extras. Whether you prefer the standard DVD or the Superbit release, either of those offers a better Patriot than this “Extended Cut”.
To rate this film, visit the SUPERBIT review of THE PATRIOT