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Columbia TriStar Home Video presents
The Patriot: Extended Cut (2006)

General Cornwallis: You know, this is not the conduct of a gentleman.
Benjamin Martin: If the conduct of your officers is the measure of a gentleman, I'll take that as a compliment.

- Tom Wilkinson, Mel Gibson

Review By: Nate Meyers  
Published: April 25, 2006

Stars: Mel Gibson, Heath Ledger, Jason Isaacs
Other Stars: Joely Richardson, Chris Cooper, Tcheky Karyo, Rene Auberjonois, Lisa Brenner, Tom Wilkinson, Donal Logue, Leon Rippy, Adam Baldwin, Jay Arlen Jones, Joey D. Vieira, Gregory Smith, Beatrice Bush
Director: Roland Emmerich

Manufacturer: DVDL
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (strong war violence)
Run Time: 02h:54m:54s
Release Date: April 25, 2006
UPC: 043396137295
Genre: action

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A- B+AA+ C+

DVD Review

When Roland Emmerich's Revolutionary War epic first opened in June of 2000, many critics and pundits launched scathing, vitriolic attacks on it. The Patriot's theatrical cut took heat due to its depiction of children using muskets against British troops and many cringed when the movie accurately asserted that numerous plantation owners did not have slaves in 1776. What seemed to be lost in all the polemics was a coherent analysis of the movie, which now makes its third DVD appearance in this new "extended cut" containing ten minutes of deleted footage.

Let's look at this summer blockbuster for what it is: a hokey piece of gargantuan entertainment. The mantra "it's only a movie" comes to mind, and it's a damn effective one at that. Living in South Carolina on his farm, widower Benjamin Martin (Mel Gibson) raises his seven children while colonial forces prepare to battle the superior army of England's King George III. His eldest sons, Gabriel (Heath Ledger) and Thomas (Gregory Smith), yearn to fight for America's independence, but Benjamin is against aggressive action. This comes as a genuine disappointment to Colonel Burwell (Chris Cooper), who fought alongside Martin in the French and Indian War. Martin's war hero status is equal part curse and benefit, for he holds a dark secret about a battle gone out of control.

Despite his efforts to disassociate from the war, Benjamin soon finds it knocking on his door. The tenacious Gabriel enlists without his father's consent and after suffering many hardships returns home injured. Red Coats and Colonials engage in the Martins' field, which brings the savage Colonel Tavington (Jason Isaacs) into what was once a tranquil homestead. The ruthless Tavington delights in sentencing Gabriel to death and, when young brother Thomas tries to intervene, deals a fatal shot. Now Benjamin is forced to rescue his eldest son and can no longer remain on the sidelines. Thus, after killing 20 British officers with the aid of two surviving sons, Martin becomes the mythical "Ghost" and heads the Colonial militia. Through skilled guerilla warfare tactics, Benjamin, Gabriel, and their fellow patriots vex the efforts of General Cornwallis (Tom Wilkinson) and, as far as the movie is concerned, pretty much win the Revolutionary War on their own.

Robert Rodat's screenplay—which is no more or less clichéd than his Oscar-nominated work on Saving Private Ryan—is a rousing if unbelievable tale of courage, love, and sacrifice. The actors juice it up at all times, turning what could be simple scenes between father and son into dramatic showcases that only exist in a world inhabited entirely by thespians. Gibson is far from subtle, but emotionally stirring as Benjamin. He's entirely likable and I dare you not to cry when he and youngest daughter Abigale (Beatrice Bush) come to terms on the beach. Ledger is also good as Gabriel, brimming with the character's foolish confidence and even making what could be a cringe-inducing romantic side story endearing. However, the real show stopper is Jason Isaacs. As Col. Tavington, he turns in one of the heaviest heavies in Hollywood history, doing just about everything to make the audience hate him short of stealing your popcorn.

This new extended version incorporates footage shown on previous DVD releases as deleted scenes. There's nothing jarring about having them in the cut, but not a single one of them really aids the story either. However, having an additional ten minutes of Caleb Deschanel's gorgeous, painterly cinematography is never a bad thing. There's also a good amount of battle footage in these new scenes, which keeps the movie from feeling as though it is longer than an action piece allows. Emmerich does a fine job with the battles, giving a vivid sense of war's brutal nature while also making them visceral pleasures. Cannon balls and cavalry charges thunderously enraptured me into the spectacle, but the real strength of Emmerich's work is that he keeps the characters in the foreground at all times. Whereas many adventure yarns see characters as a necessary evil, The Patriot takes its audience on a journey with Benjamin Martin and his family. It's not Shakespeare, but Emmerich's movie delivers the goods on both story and action.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The Patriot: Extended Cut features a new transfer of the film. I have never seen the Superbit release, but comparing this anamorphic 2.35:1 image to my original "special edition" disc I noticed some definite improvements. There are some print defects here and there, but far fewer than what is found on the original disc. The overall picture looks crisper and has a greater sense of depth, giving a nice filmlike look to the movie. Especially worth noting is how fantastic the night scenes look, with blues and blacks being so luscious you can fall asleep in them.

Image Transfer Grade: A


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0French, Portuguese, Spanishyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: While the Superbit disc featured a DTS track, the third incarnation of The Patriot only sports a Dolby Digital 5.1 English mix. Honestly, I can't hear any difference between this and the original mix from my special edition disc. That said, the mix is reference quality (especially when Martin first attacks the English soldiers and when Tavington investigates Aunt Charlotte's house) with plenty of sound separation and directionality throughout. The battle scenes are exceptionally enthralling, with clear, distinct audio permeating from all corners of the sound system. John Williams' score is also incorporated well into the mix. French, Portuguese, and Spanish Dolby Stereo tracks are also available.

Audio Transfer Grade: A+


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Portuguese, Spanish with remote access
Cast and Crew Filmographies
2 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL
Layers Switch: 01h:43m:59s

Extra Extras:
  1. Visual Effects Interactive Featurette—a view of the film plates for various special effects shots in the movie, featuring commentary by visual effects supervisor Stuart Robertson.
  2. Conceptual Art to Film Comparison—a look at drawings from the art department in comparison to the film's final product.
  3. Photo Galleries—production stills of the cast and crew.
Extras Review: The supplemental material on this disc is not only completely carried over from previous releases, it actually doesn't have as much material as the original DVD does. Obviously the deleted scenes from earlier versions wouldn't make much sense being here, but also production notes, the feature-length commentary, and some other extras are missing. However, the menus are a noticeable improvement and the cover art is, to my thinking, much nicer.

True Patriots (09m:58s) is the first featurette on this disc, featuring interviews with producer Dean Devlin, writer Robert Rodat, other crew members, and some historians. It's a brief look at the production's efforts to recreate the period and also offers some concise historical analysis of what inspired the screenplay. The second featurette, The Art of War (09m:45s), is also quite brief in its look at how the stunts and battle scenes were created. Emmerich, along with the cast and crew, talk about the effort of training and executing the film's impressive action set pieces. There's some nice behind-the-scenes footage and Jason Isaacs is especially entertaining in his interview. While both featurettes are short, they are enjoyable.

Next is a Visual Effects Interactive Featurette. Visual effects supervisor Stuart Robertson provides audio commentary for five separate special effects segments of the movie. The way it works is that there are three separate screen plates that show how the visual effects were added into the shot. Each part of Robertson's commentary as he discusses various facets of his trade. The layout is not exceptional, but I rather enjoyed hearing what Robertson had to say about creating the movie's major set pieces digitally.

After that there's a Conceptual Art to Film Comparison that features 13 art department drawings. There's an option to have the drawing morph into the final visuals captured by cinematographer Caleb Deschanel. It's rather striking how close the final product is to the original sketches. Rounding things out are filmographies of the principle cast and crew, as well as some photo galleries of the main actors and behind-the-scenes publicity stills. This is really an average collection of extras, which is only compounded by the fact that it is repeated material.

Extras Grade: C+


Final Comments

The Patriot: Extended Cut isn't worth a double dip, since its transfers don't much improve upon previous releases and the extras here are holdovers from the original DVD. However, for those who don't yet own the film, this is worth your money.


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