Saving Private Ryan: Commemorative 20th Anniversary Ultra HD Blu-ray review

War! What is it good for? Reference-quality 4K HDR encodes and Dolby Atmos soundtracks apparently…

No war film captures the sheer brutality of pitting the fragile forms of men against the uncaring bullets and bombs of war better than Saving Private Ryan. Couple this with a beautifully pitched, unsentimental and authentic sense of brotherhood between the troops, and you've got one of the most powerful and enduring war films ever made.

With such a beloved title at stake, it's a huge relief to find that Paramount has done a stellar job of bringing Spielberg's masterpiece to 4K Blu-ray…

Picture: As you'd expect from a 20-year-old film, the UHD Blu-ray picture is a 4K scan from 35mm celluloid. The result is quite simply fantastic.

Particularly exceptional is its use of HDR. Much of Saving Private Ryan is filmed on external locations, and the extra naturalism and luminosity unlocked by the film's quite aggressive light range upgrade, together with the impact of enhanced colour tones, makes them feel especially immersive.

Aside from a slightly grey night-time church sequence, the Saving Private Ryan 4K Blu-ray delivers beautifully rich black levels to counterpoint the enhanced brightness.

All of this refined but also dramatic HDR quality is elevated even higher with the 4K platter's Dolby Vision master. This offers more refinement in the brightness peaks, and even more subtlety in the expanded (though still stylistically stark) colours.

Dolby Vision also makes the film's grainy finish seem more naturally integrated. Though in truth, the grain in both the DV and basic HDR10 versions is hardly ever distracting, and rather just feels like an authentic capture of the innate qualities of 35mm.
Picture quality: 5/5

Audio: The UHD Blu-ray sports a new Dolby Atmos sound mix that makes its already reference-grade soundtrack even more monumental. The Omaha Beach sequence gives your Atmos speaker system a monstrous workout, as the enhanced dynamics and new height effects turn your room into a warzone. It's as good as fans have been hoping for.
Audio rating: 5/5

Extras: For this 'commemorative' 20th anniversary release, Paramount has created/dug up no new extra features, which is a disappointment. There's just the same uninspiring selection previously released on the Full HD Blu-ray: a 20-minute Making of…; an exploration of the creation of the Omaha Beach sequence; a featurette on the score; a look at the film from the perspective of real-life veterans; plus a few other bits and bobs too minor to mention.
Extras rating: 3/5

We say: An essential addition to your 4K movie collection. So what are you waiting for? Buy it now!

Saving Private Ryan: Commemorative 20th Anniversary, Paramount, Ultra HD Blu-ray & All-region BD, £35
HCC Rating: 4.5/5