Saving Private Ryan UHD Review

UHD doesn't get much better than this! 5 Stars

To commemorate the film’s 20th anniversary, Paramount is releasing Saving Private Ryan on 4K UHD Blu-ray, featuring a new 4K transfer that is reference-quality.

Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Released: 24 Jul 1998
Rated: R
Runtime: 169 min
Director: Steven Spielberg
Genre: Drama, War
Cast: Tom Hanks, Tom Sizemore, Edward Burns, Barry Pepper
Writer(s): Robert Rodat
Plot: Following the Normandy Landings, a group of U.S. soldiers go behind enemy lines to retrieve a paratrooper whose brothers have been killed in action.
IMDB rating: 8.6
MetaScore: 90

Disc Information
Studio: Paramount
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution: 2160p HEVC w/HDR
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio: Dolby Atmos, English 5.1 DD, English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD, English DVS 2.0, Spanish 5.1 DD, French 5.1 DD, Other
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French, Other
Rating: R
Run Time: 2 Hr. 50 Min.
Package Includes: UHD, Blu-ray, Digital Copy, UltraViolet
Case Type: 2-disc UHD keepcase with slipover
Disc Type: UHD
Region: All
Release Date: 05/08/2018
MSRP: $31.99

The Production: 5/5

World War II has been a running theme throughout many of Steven Spielberg’s films. Quint’s speech on his experience aboard the USS Indianapolis in Jaws. The discovery of a squadron of fighter planes in the Mexico desert thought to have been lost in the Bermuda Triangle in 1945 in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. The mass hysteria of a post-Pearl Harbor Los Angeles in 1941. Indiana Jones fighting Nazis in Raiders of the Lost Ark and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. A crew go on their last bombing run with a jinxed belly gunner in the Amazing Stories episode The Mission. A young boy’s experiences in a Japanese POW camp in Empire of the Sun. Oskar Schindler savings Jews from the Nazi Concentration Camps in Schindler’s List. It should be no surprise, then, that Saving Private Ryan would be and remains one of the master storyteller’s best films, and one on the best war films ever made.

The film opens with what is, perhaps, the most realistic depiction of D-Day, the Allied invasion of Normandy, which would become the turning point in World War II. This is a brutal sequence, running the first 25 minutes of the film, and is not easy to watch due to the excessive and very real violence and gore, but definitely drives the point home – war is hell. During the battle, two brothers are killed, with a third dying in another battle that same day, and the fourth reportedly dropped behind enemy lines somewhere in France. General George Marshall (Harve Presnell) orders that the surviving brother, Private James Francis Ryan (Matt Damon), be found and returned home to his family at once.

The mission falls on Captain Miller (Tom Hanks), having just barely survived the Normandy invasion, and takes a small squad of soldiers into France in search of Private Ryan. His squad includes Sergeant Hovarth (Tom Sizemore), Private Reiben (Edward Burns), sniper Private Jackson (Barry Pepper), Private Mellish (Adam Goldberg), Private Caparzo (Vin Diesel), T-4 Medic Wade (Giovanni Ribisi), with translator Corporal Upham (Jeremy Davies) in tow. They will find themselves in skirmishes, small battles, and rendezvous points on their way to Ramelle, where they discover Private Ryan stationed with a small platoon trying to hold the bridge from Nazi invasion.

Spielberg’s film is gritty and places the viewer entrenched with Miller’s squad, never taking a glorified look at war. The battle sequences are filmed newsreel style, often resulting in shaky camera moves and using various shutter speeds to create a blurring or streaking effect often seen in documentary footage. This effect was so jarring for modern audiences that many thought, when the film was first released on DVD, that the discs were defective. The film very deservedly took home Oscars for Best Director (Spielberg), Cinematography (Janusz Kaminski), Sound, Editing, and Sound Effects and Editing. Many have agreed, looking back 20 years later, that Saving Private Ryan was much more deserving of Best Picture than the winner that year, Shakespeare in Love.

The film is filled to the gills with fine performances, especially Hanks who plays a commander suffering from PTSD and keeping his personal life to himself. Every member of Miller’s squad are three-dimensional and played to perfection. Look for cameos by Ted Danson, Paul Giamatti, Dennis Farina, Nathan Fillion, Bryan Cranston, and Max Martini.

Video: 5/5

3D Rating: NA

Photographed by Janusz Kaminski on 35mm film stock, Paramount commissioned a new 4K scan of the film for its 20th anniversary along with high dynamic range in both Dolby Vision and HDR10. That is all included in the 2160p transfer on this UHD disc, and the results are breathtakingly reference level quality throughout. You are probably wondering, if this shot with intentionally muted colors, will high dynamic range destroy what the filmmakers intended? Absolutely not. If anything, the colors are more stable than on previous Blu-ray and DVD releases, and only pop when intended (such as pools of blood). Contrast is greatly improved, with deeper blacks and brighter whites, allowing the shapes of clouds to be more clearly defined in the mostly grey sky. Detail, though, is where the disc exceeds previous releases, noticeable in facial features such as beard stubble, grime, blood and in some cases, facial pores. Fabric textures, blades of grass, the metallic textures of the helmets, all benefit from increased detail. Film grain is evident but never distracting. Film to 4K digital transfers just don’t get much better than this.

Audio: 5/5

Saving Private Ryan has always sounded great on just about every disc format the film was released on. Neil Middlemiss gave the original Blu-ray release (included in this set) a 5 out of 5. The Dolby Atmos track included on the UHD Blu-ray bests that in spades by expanding the listening area above and further behind you (for those using a 7.1.4 Atmos setup). Discrete sounds are now more precise in their placement with heights engaged mostly for atmospherics but do kick in during the opening invasion sequence and the finale to the battle in Ramelle with planes flying overhead. LFE is tighter and more pronounced than on previous releases, while dialogue is always clear and understandable when intended. For purists, Paramount has included a lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 track, encoded at the maximum 640 kbps.

Special Features: 4.5/5

The UHD Blu-ray is movie only, but Paramount has included the 2-disc Blu-ray edition from 2001, which contains all of the special features on a separate disc.

An Introduction by Steven Spielberg (480i; 2:35)

Looking into the Past (480i; 4:40)

Miller and his Platoon (480i; 8:23)

Boot Camp (480i; 7:37)

Making “Saving Private Ryan” (480i; 22:05)

Re-Creating Omaha Beach (480i; 17:57)

Music and Sound (480i; 15:59)

Parting Thoughts (480i; 3:43)

Into the Breach: Saving Private Ryan (480i; 25:01)

Shooting War (480i; 88:05)

Theatrical Trailer (1080p; 2:16)

Re-Release Trailer (1080p; 2:05)

Digital Copy: An insert contains a code to redeem digital copies on UltraViolet and iTunes.

Overall: 5/5

Saving Private Ryan has never looked or sounded better. Highly Recommended,

Published by

Todd Erwin

editor,member

26 Comments

  1. I'm always of two minds when this movie comes out re: re-purchasing. On one hand, it's a tremendous movie and cinematic achievement. On the other hand, it's tough for me to watch so I rarely ever watch it (emotionally wrenching).

    So I have this competing set of thoughts telling me to 1) buy it on release date, and 2) when was the last time I watched it and will I watch it again?

    It's not quite as affecting for me as, say, "Grave of the Fireflies" which I consider to be one of the greatest animated films (or just plain film, regardless of animated or live-action) ever made…and one I may never watch again. But it's a similar kind of feeling.

  2. Carlo Medina

    I'm always of two minds when this movie comes out re: re-purchasing. On one hand, it's a tremendous movie and cinematic achievement. On the other hand, it's tough for me to watch so I rarely ever watch it (emotionally wrenching).

    So I have this competing set of thoughts telling me to 1) buy it on release date, and 2) when was the last time I watched it and will I watch it again?

    This is definitely one of those great films which are difficult to watch — I remember seeing this in the theater originally, and I do not think there was a dry eye in the house at the end. However, it's been awhile since I last watched the BD (which I sold in anticipation of this release) and the price has dropped below my magic ceiling cost of $20 for a UHD title, so I went ahead and pre-ordered. I'm looking forward to seeing this in 4K sometime next week — time permitting.

  3. It is a very powerful and emotional film to watch. I first saw this film at the Edwards Cinema in Ontario, California in the large theater which screen was a little smaller than the IMAX screen in the room next to it. I remember forming a new appreciation for not only what WW2 veterans went through but there sacrifices in that war. To all that have served and currently serve our country in the military, thank you for your service!

    RIP Gunnery Sgt R. Lee Ermey

  4. Robert Crawford

    I'm going to hold off watching it until the morning of Memorial Day as it will be an emotional viewing for me.

    That's EXACTLY what I do. I watch it every year on Memorial Day. And while I don't yet have a 4K TV (holding out for a 4K projector) I will definitely pick this up.

  5. Anyone else having issues redeeming their UV code?

    Tried redeeming on paramountmovies.com, says it was successfully redeemed, but does not appear in my library or in my transaction history. Don't want to redeem on Vudu (HDX only), and code comes up as invalid on FandangoNow (who does have the movie in 4K). Did successfully redeem on iTunes (in 4K, nonetheless), but don't have an Apple TV 4K (yet).

  6. Robert Crawford

    I'm going to hold off watching it until the morning of Memorial Day as it will be an emotional viewing for me.

    I am torn between watching it soon and waiting until I upgrade my UHD player to one with Dolby Vision support. I doubt I'll be able to wait a few months, though.

    Todd Erwin

    Anyone else having issues redeeming their UV code?

    Tried redeeming on paramountmovies.com, says it was successfully redeemed, but does not appear in my library or in my transaction history. Don't want to redeem on Vudu (HDX only), and code comes up as invalid on FandangoNow (who does have the movie in 4K). Did successfully redeem on iTunes (in 4K, nonetheless), but don't have an Apple TV 4K (yet).

    I redeemed via iTunes, but nothing is showing up in my Vudu or Amazon libraries, so it didn't cross over. I know Paramount isn't part of Movies Anywhere, so that is probably why. I did just buy an Apple TV 4K, but I use these code redemptions more for when we travel so I'll only be able to play it on my iPad for now. Not a big deal, though, since this is not something I would probably want to watch while traveling anyway.

  7. Scott Merryfield

    I am torn between watching it soon and waiting until I upgrade my UHD player to one with Dolby Vision support. I doubt I'll be able to wait a few months, though.

    I redeemed via iTunes, but nothing is showing up in my Vudu or Amazon libraries, so it didn't cross over. I know Paramount isn't part of Movies Anywhere, so that is probably why. I did just buy an Apple TV 4K, but I use these code redemptions more for when we travel so I'll only be able to play it on my iPad for now. Not a big deal, though, since this is not something I would probably want to watch while traveling anyway.

    That's true about Paramount not being part of Movies Anywhere. However, what I did was redeem through iTunes to get the 4K/Dolby Vision version and then redeem the code again at Vudu to get HDX which is the best version they have for Saving Private Ryan. It didn't show up on Amazon, but at least it's on Vudu and iTunes now.

  8. Robert Crawford

    That's true about Paramount not being part of Movies Anywhere. However, what I did was redeem through iTunes to get the 4K/Dolby Vision version and then redeem the code again at Vudu to get HDX which is the best version they have for Saving Private Ryan. It didn't show up on Amazon, but at least it's on Vudu and iTunes now.

    Thanks, Robert. I thought once I redeemed the code in one place it would not longer be valid anywhere else, but I just redeemed the code at Vudu, too, and it went through. It does make sense, since iTunes wasn't linked to my other accounts via Ultraviolet, and Movies Anywhere isn't supported by Paramount. All these variations on code redemptions gets more confusing all the time, when it should be getting simpler.

    I may have to try redeeming some of my other Paramount codes on iTunes.

  9. Robert Crawford

    That's true about Paramount not being part of Movies Anywhere. However, what I did was redeem through iTunes to get the 4K/Dolby Vision version and then redeem the code again at Vudu to get HDX which is the best version they have for Saving Private Ryan. It didn't show up on Amazon, but at least it's on Vudu and iTunes now.

    Thanks, Robert. I thought once I redeemed the code in one place it would not longer be valid anywhere else, but I just redeemed the code at Vudu, too, and it went through. It does make sense, since iTunes wasn't linked to my other accounts via Ultraviolet, and Movies Anywhere isn't supported by Paramount. All these variations on code redemptions gets more confusing all the time, when it should be getting simpler.

    I may have to try redeeming some of my other Paramount codes on iTunes.

  10. Over on another forum they were asking how the bass was, and a member said:

    LFE is pretty powerful during the battles yes. Raging seas, explosions, rumble of tanks etc

    Definitely great bass here.

    Do NOT go in expecting much from the height channels tho. It seemed like they just took the directional detail from previous versions into Atmos instead of creating new object based data.

  11. Sam Posten

    My beef is with the heights. @Todd Erwin says he experienced a lot of overhead atmospherics. That was not my take. I'd say Do NOT go in expecting much from the height channels. It seemed like they just took the directional detail from previous versions into Atmos instead of creating new object based data.

    I do not recall saying that I heard "a lot of overhead atmospherics." What I heard where occasional planes and debris flying overhead and as for atmospherics, I did hear wind and other natural sounds from time to time.

    Discrete sounds are now more precise in their placement with heights engaged mostly for atmospherics but do kick in during the opening invasion sequence and the finale to the battle in Ramelle with planes flying overhead.

  12. So I broke down and bought it, and watched maybe the first 45 minutes last night. This definitely sets the high bar for a catalog release of a 20 year old film. It simply looks and sounds amazing, and it looks like it should. Whatever digital cleanup (if any) is used so sparingly that it still looks like film to my eyes. When Mr. Kaminsky uses the soft-look+flare effect, it's conveyed accurately onscreen. Other scenes look tack-sharp. Sound was amazing. Didn't notice too much "overhead" effects, but also didn't think that the lack of it detracted from the presentation in any way.

  13. Todd Erwin

    Finally gave up and redeemed on Vudu, but only got HDX on Vudu and HD on FandangoNow. 😮

    Just noticed today that both Vudu and FN have upgraded my digital copy to UHD. Unfortunately, Vudu is only HDR10 and DD+ 5.1 audio.

  14. Todd Erwin

    Just noticed today that both Vudu and FN have upgraded my digital copy to UHD. Unfortunately, Vudu is only HDR10 and DD+ 5.1 audio.

    Hmm. Mine wasn’t upgraded.

  15. Hello. First post in years. This is question for SPR UHD disk owners. I purchased a new Sony XBR55x900F and the new SPR 4k UHD disk. I noticed that in the beginning of the movie, the close up of the white crosses, there was obvious noise of some sort, on the crosses. (not sure if noise is the correct term). I was able to correct this by fiddling around with the settings to where the crosses looked normal, white and no noise. All was good. I then decided to return the 900f and got the LG 55 C8 OLED, just because I wanted OLED instead.. On the LG OLED I cant get rid of the noise/ artifacts on the crosses.

    I figure it is just my lack of calibration knowledge. Before I take the LG back for the Sony OLED, can someone with the SPR disk and the LG C8 chime in and verify if the Cross scene is normal, without noise? Maybe I am being ticky tacky, and it is just one scene, but if one scene is bad, then it leads me to believe there are other scenes the C8 cannot handle well.

    Or maybe if someone has the Sony OLED and SPR disk can provide feedback too?

    Thanks,

  16. sxpear2

    Hello. First post in years. This is question for SPR UHD disk owners. I purchased a new Sony XBR55x900F and the new SPR 4k UHD disk. I noticed that in the beginning of the movie, the close up of the white crosses, there was obvious noise of some sort, on the crosses. (not sure if noise is the correct term). I was able to correct this by fiddling around with the settings to where the crosses looked normal, white and no noise. All was good. I then decided to return the 900f and got the LG 55 C8 OLED, just because I wanted OLED instead.. On the LG OLED I cant get rid of the noise/ artifacts on the crosses.

    I figure it is just my lack of calibration knowledge. Before I take the LG back for the Sony OLED, can someone with the SPR disk and the LG C8 chime in and verify if the Cross scene is normal, without noise? Maybe I am being ticky tacky, and it is just one scene, but if one scene is bad, then it leads me to believe there are other scenes the C8 cannot handle well.

    Or maybe if someone has the Sony OLED and SPR disk can provide feedback too?

    Thanks,

    The "noise" you are seeing is natural film grain. It is supposed to look that way.

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