The Patriot 4K Blu-ray Review
By Chris Heinonen on
Summary: In 1776 South Carolina, widower and legendary war hero Benjamin Martin (Mel Gibson) finds himself thrust into the midst of the American Revolutionary War as he helplessly watches his family torn apart by the savage forces of the British Redcoats. Unable to remain silent, he recruits a band of reluctant volunteers, including his idealistic patriot son, Gabriel (Heath Ledger), to take up arms against the British. Fighting to protect his family’s freedom and his country’s independence, Martin discovers the pain of betrayal, the redemption of revenge and the passion of love.
Movie Review: With the trend for almost all recent films to be based on actual characters, I had to quickly research The Patriot after watching it. It isn’t based on a real character but, as the screenwriter says, a composite of characters. The film is enjoyable but takes a number of liberties with reality, and is in need of some better editing. As inspiring as Mel Gibson’s character is, he often seems to be almost superhuman in what he can accomplish while everyone else is easily killed.
The main issue with The Patriot is that at over 2.5 hours long, it needs to be shortened. Many scenes that are used to build depth for the story in the middle of the film could easily be condensed down to some quick highlights or skipped altogether. There is lots of depth here to the characters, and seemingly every member of the militia gets a backstory that is explored, but it doesn’t seem to be essential to the story. At two hours, The Patriot would likely be a far better film and one that I’d probably watch again down the road, but it can be a bit of a slog at the actual length.
Technical Review: The Patriot was originally shot on Super35 and features a 2.39:1 aspect ratio, which means unlike scope productions shot with an anamorphic lens, it only uses around half the area of the film negative. It has been given a 4K transfer from the original film so all that resolution can show here. Most scenes here look fantastic, with lots of detail, strong colors, and typically fine grain film noise. However many scenes look to have some softness to them, where foreheads look flat and scrubbed of detail while other scenes show all the folds and textures of the skin.
After watching the film, with these caveats in my mind, I compared the 4K disc to the Blu-ray one, and there is simply no comparison. Even the images that look sketchy on the 4K disc are worlds better than the Blu-ray disc. There is stronger color, better detail, better dynamic range with more contrast, and there isn’t any worry about the quality of the transfer. While it lacks the fine detail of film content that has higher native resolution, it is likely as good as is possible for the original elements. Other films will show off your theater better, but this shows off the film perfectly. About the only flaw in the image is at 56:20 on the disc, where you can see some fine aliasing on the fine details of the jacket. Once again, a comparison to the Blu-ray shows that the 4K version is much better, with more detail, a truer gold color, and a superior experience.
HDR is used sparingly but effectively in the film. Musket blasts are bright in the nighttime battles, and there is a quick shot of the sun near the end of the film that can be almost blinding in how bold it is. It avoids more issues with film noise from HDR, looking much better in this respect than The Fifth Element, another Super35 film in HDR, does.
The Atmos soundtrack is very good, but not quite as dynamic as the best ones. Atmospheric sounds are used to put you in the environment and often come from the Atmos channels. If you skip ahead to around 49:00 you can hear the impact of cannon blasts during a battle scene. Vocals are kept mostly to the center and are easy to understand, and the overall improvement with Atmos is quite good. It’s not as incredibly dynamic as some recent releases, but it sounds very good.
Special Features: Some features are found on the Blu-ray disc.
- Theatrical Version of the Film (165 minutes)
- Director & Producer Commentary
- 7 Deleted Scenes with Commentary
- Three Featurettes:
- “The Art of War”
- “The True Patriots”
- “Visual Effects Interactive”
- Conceptual Art to Film Comparisons
- Photo Galleries
- Theatrical Trailer
- Extended Version of the Film (175 minutes)
- Two Featurettes:
- “The Art of War”
- “The True Patriots”
Review System: Sony X900F LCD, Sony UBP-X800 UltraHD Blu-ray Player, Oppo UDP-203 UltraHD Blu-ray Player, KEF Ci5160RL-THX Fronts, Ci3160RL-THX Center, 2x Ci200RR-THX Surrounds, 4x CI200RR-THX Atmos Speakers, Anthem MRX 1120 Receiver, SVS SB-4000 Subwoofer.
4K image offers a huge improvement over the Blu-ray, Atmos soundtrack is dynamic and involving.
While as good as this film can look, it isn't a true show-off film, the movie could be cut shorter.
While not a true reference title, The Patriot has never looked or sounded better than it does here. It blows away what the Blu-ray looks like and fans of the film should feel secure in adding it to their collection.