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PATRIOT GAMES
Special Edition

In the grand scheme of things, one cannot fathom why an actor would walk away from what had the potential to become a highly successful movie franchise, as Alec Baldwin did after THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER. More Jack Ryan movies were on the horizon, and had Baldwin continued in the role, he might have become an upper echelon movie star. When the baton was passed to another actor for the second Jack Ryan movie, the role went unsurprisingly, to Harrison Ford, an already established upper echelon movie star. Ford was certainly an excellent choice for this type of material, having starred in his share of action movies, but the role of CIA analyst Jack Ryan allowed Ford to take a more cerebral approach to portraying an action hero.

With PATRIOT GAMES ($20) Harrison Ford portrays a more mature version of the Tom Clancy Jack Ryan, who has retired from his duties at the CIA and has begun teaching at the Annapolis Naval Academy. While on a working holiday in London with his wife Catherine (Anne Archer) and daughter Sally (Thora Birch), Ryan thwarts an assassination attempt on Lord Holmes (James Fox), by an IRA splinter group, that leaves one of the assassins dead. When captured assassin Sean Miller (Sean Bean) escapes from British authorities, he sets out to avenge the death of his younger brother by killing Ryan and his family. What follows is Ryanís necessary return to the CIA, which will allow him to deal Miller and his cohorts, who havenít given up their assassination plans for Lord Holmes. The cast of PATRIOT GAMES also features Patrick Bergin, Samuel L. Jackson, Polly Walker, J.E. Freeman, James Earl Jones, Richard Harris, Alex Norton, Hugh Fraser and David Threlfall.

Paramount Home Entertainment has made PATRIOT GAMES available on DVD in a great looking 2.35:1 wide screen presentation that has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. This transfer is definitely superior to the previous un-enhanced Letterboxed DVD issued several years back. The image is certainly sharper and better defined than the original DVD, with none of the inconsistencies one finds in rehashed Laserdisc transfers. Of course, there are a few shots that appear a bit softer than the main body of the film, but this is attributable to the original production and is not a flaw in the transfer. Color reproduction is excellent; with hues appearing nicely saturated and flesh tones maintaining a very natural quality. There are no signs of chroma noise or smearing during the presentation. Blacks appear inky, whites are clean and contrast is quite smooth. Shadow detail is very good and the image usually produces a nice sense of depth. The dual layer DVD doesnít betray any overtly noticeable digital compression artifacts.

PATRIOT GAMES features 5.1 channel soundtracks in the flavors of both Dolby Digital and DTS. While the sound is decidedly good, it is a bit dated sounding, as if it were taken from the pre-matrixed Dolby Surround stems. As with such remixes, one finds the forward soundstage dominant, with the rears supplying ambient sounds, musical fill and non-discrete effects. This describes the current state of the PATRIOT GAMES Dolby Digital and DTS soundtracks to a tee. Still, the sound mix remains involving with the directionality being carried through the stereo imaging of the forward hemisphere and occasional use of front to back pans. Dialogue is always clean and fully understandable, even with accented versions of English. Musical fidelity is very good with passages of James Hornerís score sounding even more oddly reminiscent of his compositions for ALIENS. The bass channel is solid and deep, which enhances the filmís music as well as the instances of gunfire and explosions. As for the differences between Dolby Digital and DTS, they arenít particularly distinct, but DTS does come out ever so slightly on top. A French Dolby Surround soundtrack is also encoded into the DVD, as are English and Spanish subtitles.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the DVDís interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a couple supplements. The chief supplement is Patriot Games Up Close a twenty-five minute program that looks at the production of the second Jack Ryan movie through a series of inter-cut interviews featuring director Phillip Noyce, producer Mace Neufeld, screenwriter Peter Iliff and actors Harrison Ford, James Earl Jones and Anne Archer. The filmís theatrical trailer is the only other supplement offered on the DVD.

PATRIOT GAMES offers solid action movie entertainment, with Harrison Ford effectively stepping into the shoes of Tom Clancyís hero Jack Ryan. Paramountís DVD looks and sounds great and is definitely worth the upgrade for anyone with a wide screen display, or those interested in checking out the supplemental content.

 

PATRIOT GAMES (SPECIAL EDITION) 


Patriot Games (Special Edition) (1992)

ENHANCED FOR 16:9 TELEVISIONS 


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2003 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.


 

 

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