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Saving Private Ryan

Posted by admin | Posted in Movies | Posted on 20-04-2011


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Steven Spielberg directed this powerful, realistic re-creation of WWII’s D-day invasion and the immediate aftermath. The story opens with a prologue in which a veteran brings his family to the American cemetery at Normandy, and a flashback then joins Capt. John Miller (Tom Hanks) and GIs in a landing craft making the June 6, 1944, approach to Omaha Beach to face devastating German artillery fire. This mass slaughter of American soldiers is depicted in a compelling, … More >>

Saving Private Ryan

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“Saving Private Ryan” is, by all accounts, an American masterpiece and one of the premier World War II films. Its release on Blu-Ray has been highly anticipated and, for the most part, it doesn’t disappoint. First of all, the transfer is every bit as astonishingly sharp as expected. I am by no means a videophile, but there didn’t appear to be a single moment of artificial enhancement of the film. The print is appropriately accompanied by a slight sheen of grain whilst still retaining a high level of detail. As far as I’m concerned this is an easy five star transfer. The film runs 2:49:28 and features audio and subtitles in English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese. Prior to the menu loading are two easily skippped trailers for the “Minority Report” Blu-Ray and the long overdue home video release of “The African Queen”.

There are no features on the first disc, not even a commentary track (Spielberg is well known for his dislike of commentary tracks). The special features are included on the second disc and all are presented in standard definition with the exception of the two film trailers. This is disappointing but not surprising, as it’s something of an industry trend. There were no new features produced for this release, which is especially surprising considering the wealth of new high definition features that were produced for the “Minority Report” Blu-Ray. The positive side is that it pulls the features from all previous DVD editions. So even if it is all in standard definition, at least the consumer is presented with the complete special features collection. Most of the titles are rather self-explanatory, but here’s a complete rundown of the features:

1) “Introduction” (2:35) – Director Steven Spielberg discusses what attracted him to this project. This would’ve made more sense if it was included on the first disc with the film, as most will only put the second disc in after watching the film, thus making this more of an epilogue!

2) “Looking Into the Past” (4:40) – This functions as a sort of extension of the introduction, as Spielberg discusses the influences that ultimately led him to creating this film.

3) “Miller and His Platoon” (8:23) – This feature discusses the different personalities of the principle characters with particular focus on Tom Hank’s character. Spielberg and Hanks also speak candidly about their interest in World War II in general. There’s some interesting on-set footage included as well.

4) “Boot Camp” (7:37) – This features the great Captain Dale Dye discussing how he helped train the actors for their roles, as well as the unique boot camp the actors participated in during production.

5) “Making Saving Private Ryan” (22:05) – A strong making-of feature which highlights Spielberg’s directing style relative to the film with some outstanding behind the scenes footage. This is far better than the typical promotional fluff studios place on video releases with a “making of” label attached.

6) “Re-Creating Omaha Beach” (17:58) – An interesting feature discussing how the crew mounted the most impressive battle scene of the film.

7) “Music and Sound” (15:59) – Composer John Williams discusses how he went about scoring the film.

8) “Parting Thoughts” (3:43) – A nice bookend feature that contains bits of interview footage with Hanks and Spielberg.

9) “Into the Breach: Saving Private Ryan” (25:01) – A standard behind-the-scenes feature covering production of the film. This feels like a promotional piece that was bumpered between films on television during its theatrical run. This feature was ported over from the original DVD release of the film and is in rather poor quality (even for standard definiton). I’m definitely glad they included this, but the “Making Saving Private Ryan” feature is far superior.

10) “Shooting War” (1:28:05) – Tom Hanks (in full beard, as this was filmed while “Cast Away” was under production) hosts this feature focusing on the men who filmed and photographed World War II. This is perhaps the strongest feature here, bolstered by plenty of amazing war footage and anecdotes from veterans.

11) Theatrical Trailer in High Definition (2:16)

12) Re-Release Trailer in High Definition (2:05)

To be fair, all the features truly do look quite excellent with the notable exception of the “Into the Breach” feature. I’ve been spoiled on the clarity of Blu-Ray, however, so it’s still something of a disappointment. Aside from that, this is by far the best release of the film yet. The print is fantastic, it’s a huge upgrade over the DVD, and the features are expansive and plentiful. Highly recommended!

UPDATE 05/11/10: Apparently this Blu-Ray has been recalled because of an audio sync problem that occurs after Chapter 15 (about two hours into the film). I was aware of the claims on its release date, but even after watching my copy twice I never encountered any issues. Still, for the company to take this sort of action proves the problem is indeed legitimate, so hopefully Paramount’s response will be swift and painless for those who have already purchased this product.

FOLLOW-UP 05/26/10: The Blu-Ray issue has been resolved, Amazon only offers the corrected copies for sale and all other retailers should have them on the shelves now. If buying locally, the easiest way to tell the difference is to check the backside of the Blu-Ray for a yellow UPC sticker. Also, whereas the original defective discs were grey, the new corrected copies are blue discs.
Rating: 5 / 5

I bought the Blu-ray on advanced order from Amazon. The manufacturer made an error in the authoring, and the audio is out of sync beginning around chapter 15. This is NOT Amazon’s fault, and I am very disappointed in the morons who are leaving one-star reviews for the defective disc. As for the video quality, I am a bit disappointed, especially for a Steven Spielberg film. Mind you, “Saving Private Ryan” has an INTENTIONALLY grainy and subdued color palette. But there are certain scenes on the BD that show scratches and specks on the film. Other scenes are spot-on perfect. But don’t we expect as perfect a transfer as possible for a Spielberg film?

I called the number in the story below and Paramount is sending me a postage-paid envelope to return my defective copy of the movie. Upon receipt, they are mailing me the corrected disc.

The Digital Bits reports: ([…])

Okay folks… Paramount has just issued an official statement about the Saving Private Ryan BD audio sync issues. Yes, there IS a problem, but the positive development is that a replacement program is now in place AND fixed discs should be in stores by this time next week. Good on the studio (and Technicolor) for jumping on this so quickly. Here’s their statement…


Replacement Product to be Available at Retail by Tuesday, May 18

HOLLYWOOD, CA (May 12, 2010) – Paramount Home Entertainment today announced that it is recalling the Sapphire Series Blu-ray edition of Saving Private Ryan recently released in North America, the United Kingdom and the Benelux countries due to an audio synch error that occurred during Technicolor’s authoring process. Although Technicolor employs comprehensive quality control measures, in this instance the issue was not detected prior to replication.

“Technicolor has been a valuable partner to Paramount Home Entertainment, and both Paramount and Technicolor are committed to providing the highest quality product to consumers,” said Dennis Maguire, President, Paramount Pictures Home Entertainment Worldwide. “Our Sapphire Series was created to present our greatest films with the finest picture and sound quality available. Saving Private Ryan is a five time Academy Award® winning film including Best Director from one of America’s most acclaimed filmmakers so we are recalling this edition to ensure that every Blu-ray disc honors Steven Spielberg’s vision.”

Technicolor has set up the following toll-free numbers for consumers who have already purchased the Saving Private Ryan Sapphire Series Blu-ray, which provides details on how they can receive a replacement copy — US and Canada: 888-370-8621, UK: 08000-852-613. Consumers can also return the Blu-ray to the stores where they purchased the product to receive a replacement. Technicolor expects to have replacement discs available at retail no later than Tuesday, May 18.

Editor’s Note: I’ve confirmed with Paramount that the corrected Blu-ray discs will have a YELLOW UPC code/symbol on the back. That’s how you’ll know you’re getting the fixed Blu-ray.
Rating: 4 / 5

Some people advise others to close their eyes during the loooong opening scene of Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan. That would be a mistake. Yes, it’s carnage, it’s horrible, it’s relentless, it’s bloody, it’s random death, it’s a portrayal of fear and courage and raw coincidence. But it’s also one of the most powerful pieces of cinematography ever filmed.
There are many other scenes that have stayed with me during the years since I last saw this unforgettable film, perhaps Spielberg’s best ever. Perhaps the most poignant one that comes immediately to mind is the woman whose sons are all away at war. She’s on a remote farm, washing dishes, and thru her window she sees the dust of approaching cars. She goes outside to meet the visitors, tenses as she sees military brass and a chaplain step from the cars, then crumples wordlessly to the worn boards of her front porch as she tries to take in the news: all her boys have been killed, except for one: Private Ryan.
Another related scene, the one that came just before this one, is equally gut-wrenching (and in both scenes, there is no dialogue, just heart-stabbing visuals that are more powerful than any words could have been) as a woman charged with sending out letters of the We Regret to Inform You variety realizes that she’s seen three letters with the same address within the past few days, and she takes this terrible proof to her supervisor – and thus is born the search for the surviving son, to bring him home to his momma.
Tom Hanks, with his own persona of morality and honesty, is perfectly cast as the good Captain Miller, a soldier’s soldier charged with this onerous task, and of course there is terrible cost.
Saving Private Ryan is the film Spielberg HAD to make. Outstanding, in every possible way.
Rating: 5 / 5

I was very impressed by ths film. I thought it would probably turn out to be rather cliched but it did seem to have a newer perspective on WW2. Some people say the characters are stereotypical – well, I served in the British Army Reserves for four years and my platoon had a fierce Scot, joking Londoner, smiling Irishman and philosphical Welshman in it, plus me as the token University Boy so I think you’ll find that real-life Army units can be like that. No African Americans? Since the US Army was segregated until the sixties that is hardly surprising. Caricatured Germans? Germans running away? Well, some of them DID run away you know – they weren’t all ruthlessly obedient supermen, and some were no doubt far more fed up with the war that the allies were. It would have been nice to see some British soldiers about but they were some way East taking out Caen at the time, so again, not a surprise. I wasn’t sure about the film’s comment on Montgomery (“overrated”) and the British divisions though; Monty was a very good general indeed, at least as good as Patton or Eisenhower, and if he was so overcautious then why did the British lose so many men and tanks taking Caen? I think you’ll find that about 80% plus of all the German armour in Normandy was at Caen, directed against the British – not the sort of battle that can be won in an afternoon I’m sure you’ll agree.

Excellent film though – the most realistic combat scenes you will ever see on celluloid by far, and the plot is at least believable.

By the way, thanks very much to the US armed forces for doing a fantastic job as our allies in WW2, and other times. Long may Britain and the US continue to stand up for freedom.
Rating: 5 / 5

On Omaha Beach in France, a GI lurches about, desperately looking for something he has lost. He spots it and picks it up. It is his arm, blown off at the elbow by shrapnel. This is just one of the many images of horror glimpsed through the water, smoke and endless gunfire in the stunning D Day landing sequence that comes early on in director Steven Spielberg’s masterful and moving movie about World War II, Saving Private Ryan. It is this extended (24 minutes) bloody battle sequence, in which handheld camera work contributes to a terrifying you-are-there feel, that sets the tone for the movie. Men are mowed down, the ocean turns red, and the noise and slaughter never stop.

Trying to stay alive through all this madness is Capt. John Miller (Hanks) and his men. Those who survive D Day are handed another mission: Go behind enemy lines and find Private Ryan (Damon), whose three brothers have all been killed in combat. The orders are to get him out and send him home. “Where’s the sense of risking the eight of us to save one guy?” grouses one of Hanks’s men.

His question is at the movie’s core. Why fight at all? What does any one man owe another? And was it all worth it? Helped by a thoughtful script by Robert Rodat, Ryan raises all these issues.

The answers the movie provides are never pat, jingoistic responses about country and duty but rather more complicated ones about friends, family and simple decency. After seeing Ryan, many of us will look at our aging fathers or grandfathers with a newfound respect. And ponder what we, as individuals and as a nation, are doing today to justify the sacrifices those men made on our behalf more than half a century ago.
Rating: 5 / 5

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