Saving Private Ryan – 4K UHD Blu-ray Review
Film Title: Saving Private Ryan
Release Date: 1998
Runtime: 169 minutes
Region Coding: Region Free
Audio Format(s): Dolby Atmos & Dolby Digital 5.1
High Dynamic Range: HDR (HDR10) & Dolby Vision
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Formats Available: 4K UHD Blu-ray | Blu-ray
Versions Reviewed: 4K Blu-ray
Director: Steven Spielberg
Cast: Tom Hanks, Matt Damon, Tom Sizemore, Barry Pepper, Adam Goldberg, Vin Diesel, Giovanni Ribisi, Ted Danson, Paul Giamatti
“Saving Private Ryan” came out in 1998 from legendary director Steven Spielberg. The film’s screenplay was written by Robert Rodat, also known for writing on two other notable films: “The Patriot” (2000) and “Thor: The Dark World” (2013). The film won FIVE total Academy Awards, and now is celebrating being 20 years in age, with this “20th Anniversary Commemorative” edition on 4K.
The film tells the story, from the perspective of Captain Miller (Tom Hanks) leading a group of other soldiers in opening battlefield storming Omaha Beach in the Normandy invasion that took place on “D-Day” (June 6, 1944) during World War II. The actual story doesn’t necessarily focus on Miller, but more his leadership in their hope to find a missing soldier. This soldier is prioritized for rescue from his current battle position because of something known as the “Sole Survivor Policy,” which is to prevent a family suffering multiple losses of family members serving at the same time in the military. In this case, one “Private James Francis Ryan” (Matt Damon) is the sole-survivor and has lost a total of three other brothers serving our country in World War II.
Captain Miller is joined by a group of soldiers, as mentioned above, comprised of Sergeant Horvath (Tom Sizemore), Private Reiben (Edward Burns), Private Jackson (Barry Pepper), Private Mellish (Adam Goldberg), Private Caparzo (Vin Diesel), T-4 Medic Wade (Giovanni Ribisi), and Corporal Upham (Jeremy Davies).
So let’s just say Captain Miller and his platoon have to battle through some pretty gruesome action to find (Save) the soldier, Private Ryan, hence the film’s title. Lots of loss of life happened here and it can be a bit to take, much akin to Steven Spielberg‘s other WWII era film “Schindler’s List,” just in another way, from another perspective. This war brought us many stories.
Along the way, Captain Miller and his platoon, as well as others will come together to find this one soldier. You’ll see some great supporting roles from amazing actors such as Paul Giamatti, Ted Danson, and (the late) Dennis Farina – to just name a few.
Most all fans of Steven Spielberg and his work rate this one higher up in their favorite films by the legend of a director that the man truly is, and what amazing films he has brought us over the years. This is definitely one of his finest films. “Saving Private Ryan,” even as long as it is with a 2 hour 49-minute runtime, it still proves to be breathtaking, action-packed, and emotional upon each viewing – even more-so now in remarkably detailed 4K, and with Atmos sound. More on that below.
Movie Rating: 5 (out of 5)
According to the technical specifications on IMDb, “Saving Private Ryan” was shot on 35mm film on a variety of cameras and lenses. The film, originally released in 1.85.1 aspect ratio theatrically, comes to us in its 4K UHD Blu-ray debut presented in the 1.78:1 aspect ratio, entirely filling the screen.
This film on 4K UltraHD Blu-ray includes BOTH of the High Dynamic Range options available. That being: Dolby Vision and standard HDR (HDR10).
The film starts out with the scene of the man and his family walking in the park and already in comparison you can completely tell a difference in the color thanks to the use of HDR and see the darker areas highlighted more accurately now as well. There’s a very impressive amount of newfound detail in this 35mm print and thankfully film grain still is visibly intact. I can say that is the case throughout the entire film, as it still carries that gritty visual cinematic style, with film grain gloriously preserved in this absolute masterpiece of a motion picture.
In terms of detail, it is downright astounding in comparison to the original Blu-ray and absolutely like out of this world in comparison the original DVD. This 4K presentation of 35mm film source material looks superb. The addition of High Dynamic Range is excellent, whether or not you are on Dolby Vision or standard HDR10 capable setup, you’re going to notice how much more accurate the flesh tones are, how much the red of blood is more visually intense, and so forth. “Saving Private Ryan” had its own unique gritty style. It almost seems washed out, as a result, but it still manages to include a great deal of color at times, which are way more accurate this time around.
In terms of that flat gritty washed out visual style and how it even translates here to 4K from the film, this is just how the filmmakers (namely Spielberg, and the Director of Photography: Janusz Kaminski) wanted the film to look. A lot of films have their own very unique visual style and this is definitely one of the more memorable ones.
“Saving Private Ryan” makes for a great choice of the studio (Paramount) to bring to 4K UHD Blu-ray to benefit the newfound amount of detail and addition of High Dynamic Range in both flavors. This is undoubtedly THE BEST the film has ever looked on home video. This certainly feels visually comparable to the original 35mm theatrical experience, all the way back then.
In terms of visual presentation in 4K UHD with HDR, this is now one of my favorite titles available to show off my 4K television (display) itself. That said, this will make any 4K display look spectacular and leave you, and perhaps those around you in awe at the amount of sheer detail. This is what perfection truly looks like, and I have to say job incredibly well done!
Video Quality Rating: 5 (out of 5)
Audio here (on the 4K disc) is presented in Dolby Atmos format and even features the ORIGINAL Dolby Digital 5.1 mix that was included on the first DVD release. It’s worth noting that even the previous Blu-ray didn’t include that original Dolby Digital 5.1 mix. They just included it for ole’ time sake, I guess. It makes for great comparison as well, versus the modern Atmos.
The film starts out in the aforementioned scene with the man and his family walking through the park. The music comes from the front channels predominantly with excellent rear channel use but very minimal if any Atmos use yet. The dialogue is mixed distinctly through the center channel. At the 4:30 mark (as the date of June 6, 1944 flashes on screen) you’ll be treated to one massive amount of low-end bass, and those Atmos speakers will finally kick in as the troops are on their approach to the beach. Your subwoofer will be absolutely kicking with the bass here, rears will be roaring with the planes and bullets zooming past your ears seemingly behind you. Gunfire becomes even more intense and downright realistic as all hell as we hear it come from the bunkers. It even at times sounds like gunfire is echoing off of your ceiling with the Atmos height speakers getting used for those sound effects.
This is insane. The mix always was intense but it’s just become more intense every time. Now we have the utter insanity going on as the U.S. troops are storming the beach. Gunfire is downright overwhelming and not in a bad way. It surrounds you from all sides, even more so thanks to Atmos making it full immersive sound that fills your entire room. When there’s a “shell shock” moment the sound will make you feel right in the moment, as it becomes very much like sitting with earplugs in next to a jet engine. I did not find I had to amplify this at all, in fact, it’s so damn loud I had to turn it back a tad. No distortion or such, it’s just louder than all hell at times. That’s what war was, and is like, so they say.
Planes are passing by overhead and this is all as we see the groups storm the beach. This particular scene is the utter definition of insanity as I said but it’s most importantly “demo material” in terms of sound quality. Downright chaos on screen is accompanied perfectly by a sound mix to make you feel right in the middle of the action. I mean, 15 minutes we are only in, and at this point: this could earn a perfect rating, even if damn the credits were to roll.
About 48 minutes in roughly, whether “spoiler” alert, you’ll notice how Dolby Atmos mix delivers subtle use of the height speakers and rear channels to make you feel like you’re there. Gunfire sounds absolutely startling, especially unexpected sniper gunshots. 1 hour 6 minutes in echoes of the cathedral-like area bounce off the ceiling via the height speakers it seems, and around rear channels as well. I’ll stop here to avoid any actual “spoilers,” and to avoid writing an essay on audio.
In terms of audio quality here: Wow! Holy shit. For instance, via this mix, you’re able to relate to the soldiers at times. Just like they say about the chaotic moments of war, it really is downright confusing to tell where the gunfire is coming from, even more so thanks to Atmos and height speakers.
Again, in comparison here to the original Blu-ray mix’s DTS-HD 5.1 MA, the Atmos is superior, in my own personal opinion. This earns every bit of a perfect rating and still carries the title of “DEMO MATERIAL” in terms of audio presentations. This is one of the most in your face intense Dolby Atmos or atmospheric (including DTS:X) mixes that I have ever heard (to date). Once again, I want to emphasize something: Wow!
Audio Quality Rating: 5 (out of 5)
- A Digital Copy of the film is included, which is compatible with iTunes and Ultraviolet formats such as Vudu and so forth. You get a paper insert included in the packaging with a URL and code to redeem.
The 4K UHD Blu-ray includes no bonus materials what-so-ever, aside from subtitles and audio tracks in a few other languages. All bonus materials feature Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo sound unless otherwise noted below.
The Second Blu-ray Disc, “Supplemental Material,” is where the ALL of the bonus materials are to be found.
On the Second Blu-ray Disc you will find the following, split up into 2 sections:
- “Saving Private Ryan“
- “An Introduction” (2:35 – SD)
- “Looking Into The Past” (4:40 – SD)
- “Miller and His Platoon” (8:23 – SD)
- “Boot Camp” (7:37 – SD)
- “Making Saving Private Ryan” (22:05 – SD)
- “Re-Creating Omaha Beach” (17:58 – SD)
- “Music and Sound” (15:59 – SD)
- “Parting Thoughts” (3:43 – SD)
- “Into the Breach: Saving Private Ryan” (25:01 – SD)
- Theatrical Trailer (2:16 – HD) features Dolby Digital 5.1 sound.
- Re-Release Trailer (2:05 – HD) also features Dolby Digital 5.1 sound.
- “Shooting War” (1:28:05 – SD) is a very lengthy (1 hour+) documentary hosted by Tom Hanks that focuses on war footage from WWII. There’s at first focus on some of the fake footage from the war that was assembled by actual movie studios. Aside from that, this features interviews with the soldiers who fought in the war, and features a lot, I mean, a lot, of embedded military footage from the war (World War II). This proves to be very, very informative and worth the watch after you’ve seen the film. A great companion to the film, for sure.
Overall, you get no new bonus materials what-so-ever since the previous Blu-ray Disc release(s), or even really the DVD. ALL of the bonus materials are presented in SD (Standard Definition, 480i/p) with the exception of the two theatrical trailers, which are presented in full 1080p HD. Still, these as bonus materials prove to be entertaining and worth the watch if you never saw them before on the previous Blu-ray or DVD releases. I just wish some new retrospective type of interview was done with the filmmaker and cast to celebrate the film’s 20th anniversary. It’s obvious we’ll never get an audio commentary from Spielberg, as he doesn’t do those, so that wasn’t going to happen.
Bonus Materials Rating: 4 (out of 5)
“Saving Private Ryan” – of the many, many films he’s made – as discussed further above – proves to be one of mine as well as other people’s favorite Steven Spielberg films. This is the utter definition of a “DEMO DISC” for the 4K UHD Blu-ray format. Pop this 4K UHD Blu-ray Disc in when you want to show off your new 4K home theater to your friends and family. That being said when it comes to it, I have to say this is a definite MUST-OWN 4K title!
In terms of 4K UHD Blu-ray release, this gets:
5 (out of 5) for video quality
5 (out of 5) for audio quality
4 (out of 5) for bonus materials