Saving Private Ryan 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review
Released in 1998, SAVING PRIVATE RYAN was an instant classic and remains one of the best war films of all time and easy one of the best movies period in the last 20 years. I’ve only seen the film a few times, but every time I watch it, I’m surprised by how great it is and how much it gets to me. It’s one thing to make an exciting, tense war movie and another thing to make an emotional, heart-wrenching war movie, but Spielberg manages to make both, giving audiences something special. SAVING PRIVATE RYAN is an amazing film and one that remains relevant and impressive twenty years later.
As you can see, I didn’t give the film a perfect score and at the risk of being nitpicky, it’s because of the bookend present day scenes. I don’t necessarily hate the idea of the movie being a giant flashback. After all, TITANIC technically did that the year before. The problem is that the scenes are too long and the closeup on the older Ryan’s face was too much. It’s hard to pinpoint when Spielberg lost his magic touch, but I always look to the present day scenes in SAVING PRIVATE RYAN as the first hint that he was starting to change. The scenes aren’t bad enough to ruin the movie, but they’re significant enough to prevent the movie from being perfect.
Nitpicking aside, there’s not much to complain about in SAVING PRIVATE RYAN. Hanks may have won Best Actor awards for PHILADELPHIA and FORREST GUMP, but for me, SAVING PRIVATE RYAN is his best performance. His wins required more outward and emotional acting while his work in Ryan was very subdued and subtle. Spielberg knew this while filming, which is why we get so many close-ups of Hanks’s face and so many lingering shots on his expressions. He’s acting the entire time, whether he’s giving dialogue or listening to it and his performance elevates the entire movie and is truly something special. But Spielberg also gets career turns from Tom Sizemore and Jeremy Davies, who nail their parts and make you wonder why they didn’t become bigger stars. And although Matt Damon is only in the third act, he delivers some very hard dialogue and emotional moments that tend to go unrecognized.
SAVING PRIVATE RYAN was well on it’s way to Oscar glory before inexplicably losing to SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE in what is arguably the biggest Best Picture upset in Oscar history, and keep in mind I really like SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE. But as whimsical as SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE is, it’s SAVING PRIVATE RYAN that has withstood the test of time and is etched into the memory of everyone that has seen it. Not everyone will have the same connections to it, but it’s hard not to watch Captain Miller shooting at a tank at the end and not tear up. But even without that heart wrenching scene, there are plenty of other moments throughout the film that stick with you. For me, it’s always the scene where Captain Miller tells Ryan that he doesn’t want to share a memory because he wants to keep it his own. It gets me every time.
4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: This is a special transfer and a nice sign of how great older movies can look on the new format when given the proper care and attention. Spielberg purposely made this very grainy and “rough” looking, so I was slightly concerned about how that would work on 4K. Grain and texture sometimes come through awkwardly on 4K, but not with SAVING PRIVATE RYAN. The film looks absolutely incredible and although I liked the Blu-ray quite a bit, I felt like watching this on 4K was a completely different experience. I noticed details and color depth I had never seen before and it wasn’t just a few isolated moments, it was in almost every scene. Fans of the film will appreciate the impressiveness of the transfer and the attention Paramount gave the release.
Audio: If the incredible video transfer wasn’t enough, we also get a new Dolby Atmos audio track, which is just as incredible. Again, the Blu-ray sounded great, but this new track sounds even better and the utilizing of the overhead speakers was a nice addition that was used quite often.
This title was reviewed using a Samsung UBD-K8500 with a Sony XBR75X850C TV.
There are no special features exclusive to the 4K, but it does include a Blu-ray of the film, which includes ll of the special features found on the original Blu-ray release.