Viewed – 28 April 2010 Blu-ray
I wouldn’t say I am a fan of war movies or movies that try to depict battles in history, but a chosen few can appeal, if they have that something special. Braveheart is one, Full Metal Jacket another, and this, one of the most acclaimed World War II movies of all time, is another. Why? Probably because, unlike the recent Hurt Locker, its realistic depiction doesn’t alienate the viewer with an overly documentary approach. This is still a movie, and as such certainly one of the most engrossing and rewarding war movies ever made.
Directed by the (almost always) excellent Steven Spielberg, this stars (at the time) heavy weight acting talent Tom Hanks as Captain Miller whose mission after surviving the Omaha Beach Landings (surely one of the greatest cinematic openings in movie history), is to track down a missing-in-action Private Ryan whose three brothers are all reported as killed, and the U.S. Army want to send him home to save his mother any further grief. This mission divides the team of soldiers assigned to accompany Miller into enemy occupied France, as some think its suicide to risk their lives for one man. Yet as the men bond during their various encounters with the German army, they come to realise the true meaning of war and the mission as a whole.
Stunningly shot with a ridiculous attention to detail, some superb battle sequences, and most importantly a cast of recognisable faces (Tom Sizemore, Giovanni Ribisi, Matt Damon etc) all delivering excellent performances, and this one ticks just about everything in the book. The emotion and the unflinching horrors of war may be a little too much for some viewers, as this, like Spielberg’s earlier Schindler’s List tackles the subject with maturity, meaning that yes, sometimes its disturbing, heart-breaking and bloody – but above all else – it is brilliant viewing.
The Blu-ray is something to behold. The detail on display is astonishing, making it definitely up there with the best I’ve seen so far, and the sound, in DTS HD Master Audio is thundering and crisp, and will breathe new life into any surround system. Extras-wise we have a wealth of featurettes, including footage of the war itself, behind the scenes stuff and interviews, all on a separate disk. Which makes this one package well worth your money.
Verdict: 5 /5