Saving Private Ryan (R)

9 Stars

Steven Spielberg was the only director’s name I knew for a long portion of my life.

Mainly because I was a narcissistic young lad and due to his first name, I presumed he must be brilliant.

But he spells it incorrectly.

‘Stephen’ is spelled with a ‘ph’ not a ‘v’.

Anybody worth their salt knows that.

Saving Private Ryan is a lot like it’s director’s first name – it’s a near perfect film.

The only blemish on this entire movie is the opening and ending ten minutes, the two scenes featuring the old man revisiting the tombstones at Normandy. They are totally unnecessary to the plot of the film and hokey as all get out.

Otherwise all of the narrative which takes place during World War II is sensational.

Sure the scene where they storm the beaches on D-Day is a marvelous sight to behold, but don’t let that detract from the scenes that follow. It’s all good stuff.

Tom Hanks leads a cast of fantastic characters including Edward Burns, Tom Sizemore, Vin Diesel, Adam Goldberg, Giovanni Ribisi, Jeremy Davies, Barry Pepper, Matt Damon, Dennis Farina, Ted Danson, Brian Cranston and Paul Giamatti.

All deliver exceptional performances throughout.

If you’ve been keeping SPR in the back pocket like me, let it out anytime.

You’ll enjoy this film.

But stop reading here, I’m going to spoil a few things.

Vin Diesel is very good in this movie, and it gets a little dusty when his character dies, but it seems like there is some ADR (additional dialogue recording) shoved into the scene directly preceding.

The only portion of the movie that may ruin the suspension of disbelief is here, when Vin takes the daughter. The scene is a bit unbelievable, it only lasts a second, but something is lost to the viewer. I think the ADR might be part of the reason.

Speaking of, when he’s laying there and takes out the note for his father, I’m almost certain there is ADR because his lines do not match up with his lips or body language.

Anyway, if I were to criticize that scene, I’d be nitpicking. It still gets dusty no matter what he’s saying.

To address my earlier criticism, you might argue that the ‘bookends’ (the scenes in which we see Matt Damon all grown up, having fathered at least two generations) are necessary to provide redemption to the deceased characters.

This is a fair point, but I don’t think we need this kind of handholding. I don’t believe anyone would have wondered whether or not he went on to father children. Almost all of the characters are heroic (especially Private Ryan) and we know that he’s alive at the end of their mission.

They are required to give him another chance, and that’s made apparent by his survival during the film’s climax. The viewer can presume he will make the best of the life they’ve sacrificed for.

But this is all semantics. Leave the scenes in, for all I care.

Saving Private Ryan is a fantastic movie.

Thoughts, perchance?

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