My Brief "The Patriot" Review

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Posted by Rich on July 01, 2000 at 06:46:48:

In Reply to: The Patriot posted by Dr. Uncle Mark on June 30, 2000 at 06:30:59:

I went to the theater last night desperately trying to view this in terms of "just another" movie. That wasn't easy. Remember this, other than seeing "The Last of the Mohicans" on the big screen the past 3 Gatherings, the last time I ventured into a movie theater was to see "Gettysburg"! Before that? "Coal Miner's Daughter" & "ET"! So ... yeah ... I WAS full of expectations, to say the least. An aside here: I was surprised to find so much "noise" & obvious splice marks in a brand new film! Made me realize that our "LOTM" copy wasn't so bad after all ... And speaking of quality ... While Ilse was here, we watched the LOTM DVD. The next night, my 3 year old, Daniel, asked to watch "The Last of the Mohicans" (as he plopped down on the couch, wooden tomahawk in hand! Yep, converted another one!) Well, I didn't want to mess with the DVD, so I shoved the THX video tape into the VCR, for the first time SINCE I've owned the DVD. Now, all arguments about which version is better aside, I was appalled at the quality. There is simply NO comparing the quality of a video tape against a DVD ... DVD wins, hand down! Oh, I think I'm slightly off the track here ...

"The Patriot" ...

It opened with some beautifully shot scenes. The cast was solid throughout. I'm glad a Revolutionary War-period film was made if only in the hopes that it'll spark interst in the subject. Battle scenes were shot well, relatively realistic ... uh-oh, I feel my historical "sense of it" creeping in ...

It wasn't bad. I somewhat enjoyed the experience of watching it ... but, but ... Oh GOD, I can't take this! I was very disappointed. Even Mel wasn't THAT good! Ok, they never said that the villan was Banastre Tarleton; they never SAID the closing battle was the Battle of Cowpens ... though it was obvious that was who & what was depicted. My 17 year old son, Adam, excused the errors on those grounds. Fair enough. My questions: Where were the Grasshoppers? Where were ... no, enough of that.

Overall, I thought that the conflict was nicely depicted for a film ... running in maybe a bit too long. I don't have a major problem with the OVERALL sense of things. But, the specifics ...

The film was too pat; too cute; too cliched; too "I've seen this all before (in "Braveheart"? in "LOTM"?) & it lacked a stirring soundtrack ... something I immediately look for in a film. Some of the scenes were simply TOO unbelievable:

1 - Was that The George Road Ambush?? One man (Gibson) & two young boys (10 & 12??), take on 20 British regulars ... and slaughter them all.
2 - Gibson's character's (obviously WAS based, in large part, on the Swamp Fox - called the Ghost, or something like that in the film) eldest son enters a church attempting to raise militia. A young woman (soon to wed Gibson's son) leaps up and delivers a John Wayne "Alamo" type speech (where did THAT come from??) and, in a scene we've all seen countless times before, one by one the men stand to join. Didn't do a thing for me, but make me feel uncomfortable.
3 - The British return to this church later on, lure everyone in it, lock the doors, & burn the place down. I'm sorry, this is TOO unbelievable. Yes, the British comitted atrocities. Yes, Tarleton (Tavington in the film) was brutal ... but this? I couldn't believe it, and so was unable to feel moved or anger or anything. So, when Benjamin Martin (aka Francis Marion et al [Gibson]) returns & predictably finds the necklace he earlier gave to his son's wife in the rubble ... to me, the whole thing failed. Very pat stuff.

Then there's the "romances" ... huh? I must've missed something in Gibsons case, especially ... I mean talk about lack of development. It would have been better, I think, to leave it out entirely.

I thought the film was fair, it did show militia (patriots) commit atrocities (shooting soldiers who had surrended), it barely did show the Tory side, & Cornwallis & a couple of other British officers tempered what "Tavington" was up to. I liked seeing Chris Cooper, a "Lonesome Dove" alumni (July Johnson), in the film; missed seeing any LOTM connections in the credits (no Mark Baker or anyone ... though it is possible I missed 'em.)

I'll probably own the film on DVD someday, mainly because of its subject matter ... it gets, though, only a C+ from me.

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