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The Patriot

"The Patriot" on DVD

Independence Years

From the team that brought you "Independence Day," "Stargate," and "Godzilla," comes an epic story of a peace-loving man who reluctantly takes up arms against the British during the US War of Independence.

Mel Gibson is Benjamin Martin, a hero of earlier conflicts who still carries the inner scars of those days. Now, having renounced violence, he's making a life for himself and his family on their South Carolina homestead and, despite his sons' wishes to get involved in the conflict, keeps his focus on his life at hand.

Until his eldest son, who has left to join the battle, returns home while on a mission, and the British arrive and all Hell breaks loose. Benjamin's course is forced upon him, a combination of revenge and inevitability, and he leads a militia into a type of guerilla warfare the British aren't ready to handle.

"The Patriot" is easily the best of the Dean Devlin/Roland Emmerich collaboration. They've done movies with epic scope before, but never one that was actually an epic. And where their films generally run out of steam after an hour or so, "The Patriot" keeps up its momentum for the entire two and three quarter hours.

Gibson is good as Benjamin Martin, and he's joined by Heath Ledger as his oldest boy, Gabriel, Joely Richardson, Jason Isascs, Rene Auberjonois, and Tom Wilkinson.

The British, especially one particularly brutal officer, are portrayed as very bad guys and, though we don't know how historically accurate the film is, it seems they're a bit caricature-like. Still, a story like this needs a bad guy, and in this setting, it would have to be the Brits.

Despite the scale of the movie (which brings to mind such other battle-filled epics as "Spartacus"), the story is very human, and that's probably why it works so well. The production values are also excellent, as are the special effects - except for a cheesy looking decapitation during one battle.

The "Special Edition" DVD is presented in widescreen, Dolby Digital, and the digitally mastered audio and anamorphic video quality are terrific. The audio is particularly spectacular during the battle scenes, and will give your sound system a good workout - especially if you have a subwoofer.

Extras include commentary from Emmerich/Devlin, a featurette on the special effects (showing how they created a digital army), and another featurette about "The Art of War." There's also "The True Patriots" featurette, conceptual art, deleted scenes with optional commentary, photo galleries, DVD ROM capability, talent files, and the trailer.

"The Patriot" was a very pleasant surprise, coming as it does from a team that in the past has had grand plans, but seen them turn into little more than popcorn movies by the time they were finished.

The Patriot, from Columbia Tristar Home Video
165 minutes, Widescreen (2.35:1), Dolby Digital
Starring Mel Gibson, Heath Ledger, Joely Richardson, Jason Isascs, Chris Cooper, Tcheky Karyd, Rene Auberjonois, and Tom Wilkinson
Produced by Dean Devlin, Mark Gordon and Gary Levinson,
Written by Robert Rodat, Directed by Roland Emmerich


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Updated May 13, 2006