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The Patriot: Special Edition

Along with Gladiator, The Patriot was one of 2000's two big summer epics — and the first of the two to make it to DVD. Directed by Roland Emmerich and produced by Dean Devlin — the team behind Independence Day, Godzilla, and StargateThe Patriot is less fluffy and flashy than any of the pair's previous films. Rather than relying on special effects and digital wizardry to wow its audience, the film invests in emotion and human conflict, using technology only to emphasize the horrors of war and how they can tear people apart (literally and figuratively). The man at the center of The Patriot is Benjamin Martin (Mel Gibson), a widowed South Carolina farmer who saw enough of battle to last him a lifetime in the French-Indian wars. Wishing only to raise his seven children and his crops in peace, Benjamin's pacifism is tested when his oldest son, Gabriel (Heath Ledger), joins the Continental Army. But it takes a wrenching tragedy at the hands of blackhearted British Colonel William Tavington (Jason Isaacs) to ultimately spur Benjamin to action. Once he's off, though, there's no stopping him — he and Gabriel call up the South Carolina militia and use unconventional guerrilla tactics to help prevent General Cornwallis from conquering the South and moving North to finish off the war. Despite a few flaws (including anachronistic lines like "You look good in that color"), The Patriot is a stirring saga about the fight to free the colonies from British rule and, as such, it entertains marvelously. From its gory battle scenes to its tender family moments, The Patriot engages your emotions and keeps you on the edge of your seat, even though we all know who wins the war. The film gets an above-par treatment on DVD. The anamorphic transfer is beautiful, and the Dolby Digital 5.1 mix renders every grisly battle sound sometimes uncomfortably clear. The extensive list of extras includes a commentary from Devlin and Emmerich, two featurettes about the historical accuracy of the film's details, an interactive visual effects featurette that explores two effects-heavy sequences and offers commentary from the film's visual effects supervisor, still photo galleries, bios/filmographies for key cast and crew members, theatrical trailers, a DVD-ROM Weblink, and a conceptual art-to-film comparison section. Anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1). Keep-case.
—Betsy Bozdech

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