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Saving Private Ryan
BLU-RAY disk
May 12, 2010 By: Chris Bumbray
Saving Private Ryan order
Director:
Steven Spielberg

Actors:
Tom Hanks
Tom Sizemore
Vin Diesel
Barry Pepper
Jeremy Davies
Adam Goldberg. Matt Damon
Ed Burns

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
During WW2, three brothers are killed during the D-Day Invasion of Normandy. When itís discovered that a fourth brother, James Ryan (Matt Damon) is possibly still alive somewhere in Normandy, a group of battle hardened grunts, headed by the war weary Captain Miller (Tom Hanks) are sent deep into enemy occupied territory to rescue the young Private.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Itís hard to appreciate now what a landmark film SAVING PRIVATE RYAN was when it came out in the summer of 1998. While Steven Spielberg had previously directed the harrowing SCHINDLERíS LIST- a story of the Holocaust, SAVING PRIVATE RYAN was still a remarkable change of pace for the director, who was still considered a master of escapism.

With Tom Hanks perfectly playing the everyman hero, Spielberg made one of the most hard-core, violent war movies ever made up to that point. The opening, twenty minute depiction of the first wave of the D-Day invasion is terrifying, and gives audiences a ďyou are thereĒ sensation that was shocking at the time.

Twelve years later, SAVING PRIVATE RYAN holds up like gangbusters. It was followed by a slew of war movies- most of which didnít manage to recapture itís intensity (although Terrence Mallickís THIN RED LINE, and Ridley Scottís Mogadishu film, BLACK HAWK DOWN- were both notable for their own merits). While it lost the best picture Oscar to SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE; a travesty the Academy still hasnít lived down (although giving THE HURT LOCKER best picture is a start), SAVING PRIVATE RYAN stands as a classic.

Watching it for the first time in several years, I was drawn right back into the film. I think Tom Hanks gave a career best performance as Miller- matched only by his turns in PHILADELPHIA, and ROAD TO PERDITION. He really was the perfect man to play this former school-teacher, turned killing machine, who fears heís losing his humanity the longer he stays in the war. The rest of the grunts are uniformly excellent, as is Matt Damon as the titular Private Ryan. I also loved seeing a bunch of familiar faces pop up in small roles, such as Paul Giamatti, Ted Danson, Dennis Farina- and a then unknown Nathan Fillion, who plays another Private Ryan.

Iíd go so far as to say SAVING PRIVATE RYAN is a flawless film, were it not for the unnecessary, contemporary segments that bookend the film. I know Iím not the only one who dislikes these scenes, as they are out of tune with the rest of the film- but Iíve no doubt that Spielberg thought the scenes were necessary to put the audience in the right frame of mind for what follows. All in all, this film is a major triumph for all involved.

THE EXTRAS
This Sapphire series disc is loaded, with all the etras of the previous 2 disc DVD being reproduced for the Blu-Ray, although the features are in SD. First up, A Multi-part documentary charting each and every aspect of the production- adding up to about two hours of content.

Next, we have the feature length Shooting War documentary about combat photographers, hosted by a circa-CAST AWAY Tom Hanks (check out his gnarly beard). Finally, we get the theatrical trailer , and re-release trailer in HD.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
SAVING PRIVATE RYAN is probably my favorite Steven Spielberg film after RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, and JAWS. He hasnít managed to make anything since then that measures up in quite the same way (although MUNICH came close)- but Iím hoping his imminent journey to the trenches of WW1 with THE WAR HORSE will compare favorably with this. This is definitely a must own disc.
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