Discs Are Rated
Saving Private Ryan: Limited Edition (Dolby
review by Ren C.
Running Time: 169 Minutes
Starring Tom Hanks, Matt Damon
Written by Robert Rodat
Directed by Steven Spielberg
Retail Price: $34.99
Features: Theatrical Trailers, Director's Message,
Making-of, Production Notes and Bios
Specs: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, 5.1 Dolby Digital
Surround, English Subtitles
This is one of those movies that words, quite simply, do
not do justice to. This has to be seen to be believed. Set
during World War II, the plot of the movie revolves around
the search for Private James Ryan, who has been given a way
home by virtue of the fact that his other brothers have been
killed in combat. Given orders to undertaker this mission is
a squad of soldiers led by Captain John Miller (Tom Hanks).
The movie opens on the storming of the beach at Normandy
on D-day. This is without question one of the most moving
opening scenes that I have ever witnessed. It is
unbelievably violent, but not for the sake of violence, but
to illustrate the sheer horrors that were part and parcel of
World War II.
From there, the men learn of their new mission, and set
out on the French countryside to look for Private Ryan.
Along the way, they come across other events, and bond as a
unit. But more importantly, they wonder why they are the
chosen ones to find Private Ryan, and why he should have a
way home and not them.
With a cast of actors that includes Tom Hanks, Matt
Damon, Tom Sizemore and Vin Diesel, and being directed by
Steven Spielberg, this was almost guaranteed to be a
blockbuster. It didn't disappoint, although with a story
like this, I think that it could have succeeded with less
talent. That is definitely not a knock against the cast
though, as each one fills his role admirably, and never does
the movie seem like a Tom Hanks vehicle.
I'm generally not a fan of war movies, but this one is
anything but a war movie. Instead, it comes across like a
movie to establish that despite everything, we are all still
Picture-perfect. There is no sign of any grain, or
anything of that nature, and the movie comes across
dynamically and vibrantly. The movie tends to be a bit gray,
and somehow, even these grays seem vibrant. I wouldn't mind
if all new releases were delayed by a few months if they
were able to look this good when they were released.
Again, this is definitely a movie where your sound system
will get a workout. The opening twenty-five minutes or so,
especially, are filled with action where the sounds of
bullets will literally be whizzing by your head, splashing
across water, and generally making it seem as though you are
at Normandy Beach. The sound is well distributed, and stays
consistent, even through the slower, more dialogue-driven
portions of the midsection of the movie.
Although not a full-blown special edition, the features
are more than adequate. The most substantial of these is the
almost half-hour long documentary, "Saving Private Ryan-Into
The Breach." Refreshingly, this is not the typical,
studio-driven promotional feature, but instead, a very
in-depth look at both how the movie was made, and a
historical look at the time. Very interesting to me were the
clips of movies that Spielberg made when he was a teenager
that looked surprisingly polished for such an initial
effort. The documentary incorporates interviews of the cast
and crew of "Saving Private Ryan," along with veterans of
World War II who actually served during the time period that
"Ryan" is set in. A very compelling documentary, that
actually serves a purpose other than to sell the movie.
Next up is a special message from Steven Spielberg that
is included both after the main feature, and is selectable
on the special features menu. Basically, Spielberg gives us
a little more background on D-day, and why he made the
movie. Not really the most in-depth feature in the world,
but nice to see Spielberg involved nonetheless.
Two trailers are included, one from the original
theatrical release, and the second from the re-release of
the film shortly before the 1999 Oscars. Both trailers are
compelling, although the second doesn't convey the story so
much as it conveys the accolades that the movie
The final two features are the standard cast and crew
bios, and production notes about the movie. The same
production notes are included in the booklet for the movie,
along with a separate insert for the National D-day Museum.
This is undoubtedly going to be remembered as one of the
modern classics, and certainly as one of Spielberg's best
films. The audio and video are both of reference quality,
the movie is top-notch, and the features, while not
jam-packed, are a nice companion to the movie. No question
in my mind, this is a movie that belongs in everyone's
collection. Highest recommendation.
(4.5/5, NOT included in
(4.5/5, NOT an average)