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“Saving Private Ryan” - {Blu-ray}
Taylor Carlson
Studio: Paramount
Release Date:
Special Features:

Shooting War Documentary, Featurettes


Saving Private Ryan is directed by Steven Spielberg. The film stars Tom Hanks, Matt Damon, Bryan Cranston, David Wohl, Tom Sizemore, and Edward Burns. John Williams composed the musical score. The film was originally released theatrically in 1998. ***

Saving Private Ryan is set amidst the June 6, 1944 D-Day Allied invasion of Europe during World War II. In the chaos, three brothers are killed. This news is devastating to the mother of these soldiers, as well as the State Department charged with conveying the news. Private Ryan, the fourth brother and last survivor, needs to be gotten out of Europe alive, decides the State Department. A platoon is assigned with the mission of getting Ryan home safely - but with the Germans stepping up the defense of the European continent, striving to push the allies back, it will not be an easy task. ***

Let's not kid ourselves - as long as there will be human beings, there will be World War II movies. The war has proven itself to be worthy material for film since it was still going on. With so many movies on the subject over the years, it can be difficult to tell which ones are worth seeing and which ones, for lack of a better way of putting it, aren't. Saving Private Ryan may not be the perfect war film, but it IS one to see. ***

As someone who watches all kinds of films and writes reviews constantly, I have seen dozens of war movies, nearly half of which were World War II based. But few of those movies capture the horrors of war on the battlefield the way Saving Private Ryan does. It is a film that makes no effort to glorify or romanticize war, but rather focuses on showing the horrors firsthand. In this movie, people die - and violently, too. Soldiers get a bullet through the head, get blown to bits by explosives, and (literally!) have their guts torn out. Enemy soldiers with their hands raised in surrender are killed in cold blood by Allied soldiers angered at the loss of comrades. Characters the film introduces die from one scene to the next. This is a movie that shows the horrors of war like no other, and anyone who is put off by seeing violence and the atrocities of the battlefield will not want to see this film - but anyone wanting to see the hell that was the Second World War up close and personal will get just that. ***

The performances and characters in the film make it worth watching. Tom Hanks steals the show as the commander whose platoon is charged with bringing Private Ryan home safely. Even he agrees, the crew could be doing better things in their effort to win the war - but it is a job he reluctantly accepts, and ultimately embraces. Matt Damon gives a memorable performances as the title character - and he scores points in this reviewer's book for playing a character that actually wants to remain on the battlefield and do his duty rather than be sent home instead of other deserving soldiers. Other great bit parts come from David Wohl (you might remember him as the nerdy dean from Revenge of the Nerds) and Bryan Cranston (later father/husband Hal on Malcolm in the Middle) as high-ranking military officials. ***

War is hell, and Saving Private Ryan shows that like no other film. The film puts viewers in the heart of the battlefield, showing them the sacrifice that our forefathers made to guarantee our safety and freedom. And it is a success on every front. ---

Image And Sound:

This is the kind of movie Blu-Ray was made for. Despite being now over a decade old, Paramount's Sapphire Series transfer is going to impress on all fronts. The level of detail in the image is amazing. Many parts of the film look soft, but this is no doubt due to filming decisions on the part of the crew. Film grain is intact, and it is clear no enhancements have been applied to the picture. It retains its film-like appearance throughout, and I seriously doubt anyone will be dissatisfied. This transfer gets a medal of honor. ***

The audio is medal-worthy as well. In a war movie such as this, there are all kinds of sounds for a lossless audio track to capture - gunshots, explosions, raindrops, footsteps, the list goes on. And it all sounds great on here. From sound effects to dialogue and the John Williams score, everything sounds incredible. With audio and video this good, you'll swear you're on the beaches of Normandy, right there with the soldiers when the action gets underway.

Special Features:

A nice assortment of bonus features appear on the disc. The most substantial one is the Shooting War documentary, which lasts nearly 90 minutes and is essential viewing to any fan of the film. The remainder of the bonus features on the film are all considerably shorter, ranging from 2 minutes to half an hour each. Everything on here is pure gold for anyone who was a fan of the film.

Final Words:

Saving Private Ryan is an incredible film that isn't afraid to show the ugly side of war. There is no glorification of battle here - this is a movie that lets the viewer see firsthand the hell that was World War II. Paramount's Blu-Ray Disc looks and sounds amazing, and has a ton of bonus material to its name as well. I strongly recommend this disc.


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