November 2001
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The Patriot: A Review
by Michelle Neufeld, Grade 12, Garden Valley Collegiate, Winkler, MB

"A thunderous spectacle . . . The Patriot packs a wallop," says Peter Travers of "Rolling Stone." Overall, Roland Emmerich's film, The Patriot is a crowd pleaser. It combines entertainment, romance, action, and it also has a historical significance.

The Patriot leads a band of militia in the American Revolution and discovers that the only way to protect his family is to take up arms and fight for a free and independent America. Although the plot is somewhat predictable, it still holds the viewer's attention by combining the realistic setting and the visual and sound effects with the dramatic battle scenes.

Mel Gibson stars as patriot Benjamin Martin. Martin, a widower with seven children, is trying to forget his gruesome past in the French and Indian War and to live a peaceful life on his Southern Carolina plantation. However, Martin and his family are exposed to the strife of the American Revolution when son Gabriel, played by Heath Ledger, enlists as a patriot without his father's consent. Martin's family is put in danger because of Gabriel's careless actions. William Tavington, portrayed by Jason Isaacs, is a British colonel. Many times during this film, Benjamin Martin and his enemy Colonel Tavington meet head-to-head. Tavington angers Martin by striking out against Martin's family and the former soldier realises that he must fight again in order to save his family.

The acting in this movie is outstanding. The main actors are well known from previous films and, therefore, they are experienced. They fully become their characters and one never senses they are just reciting lines. Mel Gibson leaves no doubt in your mind that he is the Patriot. The weakest part of this movie is the plot. Since it is based on an historic event, the ending is predictable. Everyone already knows that the patriots defeat the British in the American Revolution. Despite the predictable outcome, The Patriot holds the viewer's attention by using a realistic setting. The entire film was shot on location is South Carolina and it gives the viewer a clear picture of what the war may have been like.

Visual effects can make or break a movie; and they certainly make The Patriot. In one battle scene, a man's leg is ripped off by a cannon ball. After seeing that, one's initial thought is "Oh, gross," not "That's fake."

The sound effects in The Patriot will also keep viewers on the edge of their seats. All of the music used is appropriate and somehow relates to that Revolutionary War era. The drum and flute music used when the soldiers march to war helps a lot in setting a tense mood during the battle scenes.

While The Patriot is a good source of entertainment for many people, it is not appropriate for everyone. Mature audiences will enjoy the movie. It should be rated PG15 because the movie contains many violent scenes and some profanity. Given its good acting, the attractive setting, and the effective visual and sound effects, The Patriot is a success.


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