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Saving Private Ryan - (DTS)

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Review by Aaron Beierle | posted April 11, 2000 | E-mail the Author
The Movie:
Steven Spielberg's "Saving Private Ryan" is a masterful epic; a haunting portait of the sheer horror that was experienced on the beaches of Normandy. The famed opening of the picture is one of the most devastingly realistic and terrifying sequences ever, with incredible camerawork by cinematographer Janusz Kaminski taking us into the middle of battle, with an incredible amount of gore and horror. The images that are presented here are ones that will stick in memory for a long time to come.

The film is bookended by flashback scenes of an older man visiting the graves of fallen soldiers. From that point, we are thrown into the opening battle and then, taken through the rest of the events. We learn that three brothers from one family have died in the war and that the army is looking to send a group to find the remaining brother, James Ryan(Matt Damon).

Captain Miller(Tom Hanks) and his men are at first against going to find the lost soldier, but we are absolutely drawn into these people from the very begining: these are very human, very wonderfully written characters and what happens to each of them tears the audience apart emotionally. Each decision has enormous impact and even in the film's quieter moments, the tension is overpowering.

The crew ventures across the countryside in a long and tough journey to try and find the missing soldier. The performances throughout this journey are truly fantastic, especially Ed Burns(known previously as the director of "The Brothers McMullen") and Tom Sizemore. Sizemore is really impressive, with a powerful and outstanding performance. Also quite good are Adam Goldberg("Ed TV") and Jeremy Davies("Ravenous"). Hanks leads the film like a master, with a performance that is absolutely top-notch. Throughout the film, each of these characters builds and grows and the audience is there for every moment.

Spielberg does not manipulate. He doesn't need to. We are moved(I cried often throughout this picture) by the sheer power and emotional impact of what is shown here. The cinematography by Janusz Kaminski(who graduated from the college I go to) is phenomenal; the gritty, intense, bleak images are breathtaking and horrifying. There are a few camera and film styles used and they add to the terror of the film.

"Saving Private Ryan" must be seen to get the full impact: this is an intense, devastatingly brutal picture that contains many phenomenal performances and a fantastic screenplay. Steven Spielberg has simply made a classic that people will be moved by for a long, long time.


VIDEO:Dreamworks came close to perfection with their edition of "Prince Of Egypt", but I must say, the image quality of "Saving Private Ryan" is as flawless as it gets. Dreamworks has used the new C-Reality process for this transfer and the results are simply jaw-dropping. I haven't ever seen images this clear, this sharp or with this level of definition before. I have to be perfectly honest here: the image quality looks better on DVD than when I remember seeing it in the theater. It's that good. It's so good that, in my opinion, it takes DVD to another, higher level altogether.

Colors are absolutely crisp, natural and accurate. The sort of desaturated color palette looks much better, at least to me, on this DVD. Black level is excellent and shadow detail is fantastic. There are absolutely no instances of pixelization or shimmering. The images on this disc are consistently pure and crystal clear; absolutely clean throughout. As the soldiers walk through the countryside, practically every branch and leaf of the trees are visible. The greens visible are goregous and absolutely natural. Images throughout the film look three-dimensional on this DVD.

Even the darker sequences contain a very good amount of detail. There are no flaws here to be found. Dreamworks has brought forth this fantastic film on what I consider to be the most beautiful image quality I've ever seen on DVD. People will be absolutely amazed when they see how perfect the image quality is on this disc. Dreamworks gets the highest image quality grade I've given. The same transfer from the Collector's Edition remains here, and again, I think it's outstanding work.

SOUND: Where the Dolby Digital version is certainly very, very good - the DTS version is an improved experience altogether. The opening beach sequence puts the viewer in the middle of the experience, with incredible detail from all sides and some unbelievable bass. Surround use is nothing short of breathtaking, and will have most viewers probably ducking for cover due to the almost unbareably realistic detail of the gunfire seemingly coming from all around. The DTS version is more successful in creating detail in the environment and everything down to the rain comes through with superb clarity, creating an outstanding sense of space. The John Williams score is extremely well-recorded and added into the overall audio extremely well, sounding exceptionally clear and clean. The DTS version is a stunning experience that puts the viewer directly in the middle of every single scene. This is an incredibly dramatic and thrilling experience that is very highly recommended. Dialogue is easily understood, even among all of the chaos.

MENUS: Dreamworks has put together some very subtle menus with slight animation. These keep with the tone and mood of the film and I think not going with explosive menus was an excellent choice. Scene selection is also animated. These are really well-done menus that are about the same as the menus the other version offers.

EXTRAS:The Dolby Digital version includes a very good 30 minute documentary that this version does not, but I think the DTS version is still the one I would recommend after taking a listen to what it has to offer. The DTS version includes 2 theatrical trailers, cast&crew bios and production notes, as well as a message from Steven Spielberg.

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