Director Steven Spielberg’s critically lauded WWII epic Saving Private Ryan celebrates its 20th anniversary this year with a new 4K Ultra HD/Blu-ray Combo release on May 8, 2018 from Paramount Home Media Distribution. Here is my review:
A DreamWorks Pictures and Paramount Pictures co-production, Saving Private Ryan won five Academy Awards®, including Best Director, and two Golden Globes®, including Best Director and Best Motion Picture—Drama, and was named by the AFI as one of its 100 greatest American films. Boasting a stellar cast headed by Tom Hanks, Matt Damon, Edward Burns, Tom Sizemore, Ted Danson, Giovanni Ribisi, Vin Diesel, Paul Giamatti and Barry Pepper, the film is widely considered one of the greatest war movies ever made.
Captain John Miller (Tom Hanks) takes his men behind enemy lines to find Private James Ryan, whose three brothers have been killed in combat. Surrounded by the brutal realties of war, while searching for Ryan, each man embarks upon a personal journey and discovers their own strength to triumph over an uncertain future with honor, decency and courage.
Saving Private Ryan has always been lauded as “one of” the best war films ever made. After re-watching Steven Spielberg’s epic war film 20 years after it was released, I’m here to declare it the best war movie ever made. You can argue Apocalypse Now all you want, or Platoon, but you CANNOT deny the intensity and the SOUND that was used to terrifying effect during the creation of Saving Private Ryan. The 4K UHD release is the best viewing one can get of this film without seeing it in theaters – hands down. It’s also the scariest war movie I’ve ever seen – the opening D-Day sequence (which is obviously a thing of legend at this point), not only holds up two decades later, but it scared me. War has a tendency to be glorified and some recent war movies are absolutely guilty of this to varying degrees. Saving Private Ryan terrified me and I’m a 33-year-old man who has seen some crazy shit – nothing comes close the shockingly realistic warfare that puts viewers directly into the chaos and doesn’t guide them safely to the end – if anything you’ll be left reeling by the time the opening beach scene has come to a close. Wow.
The movie is lengthy, but it flies by because of the way Spielberg shot this thing by putting audiences right into the action. They used live gunfire for the horrific sound — recorded separately of course, but using authentic weaponry from World War II and because of that I don’t believe there’s another movie that comes close to utilising sound to the same harrowing degree of Saving Private Ryan. The cast is also so damn good… Tom Hanks obviously, but Vin Diesel was in this sucker and that was wonderful, but let’s talk about Tom Sizemore… I love Tom Sizemore – always have and the fact that this brilliant actor has struggled so much throughout his career, dealing with drug addiction and worse — it kills me. If I could make a movie myself, I would cast this guy as the damn lead. Apparently during the filming of Private Ryan, Sizemore had to be drug tested every day with the threat of being fired on the spot if he failed. I’m happy he didn’t, because Sizemore was amazing and the film would not have been as memorable without him.
From the gruelling training that the cast went through to prepare for the authentic filming experience, to the brilliant writing and direction from Spielberg, all the way to the editing room when they managed to deliver the scariest-sounding war film of all time — Saving Private Ryan is a masterpiece that stands the test of time. I haven’t seen it in well over a decade until watching this 4K release and I’m mad at myself for not revisiting it sooner. It’s a remarkable achievement and in my opinion the most realistic and authentic war epic ever.
There are over three hours of bonus features included, so be prepared to lost a ton of time getting lost in the making-of segments. So if you already own a copy of Private Ryan, chances are you might have a lot or even all of these features already, but it’s worth it to get this movie in 4K UHD… You want to feel the chaos of Saving Private Ryan and this is the best way to experience that at home.