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Click above to purchase "Platoon Special Edition" at amazon.com

 

Platoon
Special Edition

review by Zach B.

Rated R

Studio: MGM

Running Time: 120 minutes

Starring Tom Berenger, Willem Dafoe, Charlie Sheen

Written and Directed by Oliver Stone

Retail Price: $24.98

Features: Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Oliver Stone, Audio Commentary with Military Supervisor Captain Dale Dye, "Tour Of The Inferno" Documentary, Photo Gallery, Poster Art, Collectible Booklet, Theatrical Trailer, TV Spots

Specs: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English 5.1 Dolby Digital, 2.0 English Dolby Stereo, French 2.0 Dolby Surround Stereo, Spanish Mono, French Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles, Chapter Search (32 Chapters)

Based on Oliver Stone's experiences when he served during the Vietnam war, "Platoon" won four Academy Awards® (including Best Picture) and is now fifteen years old. The third version of the film on DVD is the one to own. It includes all the supplements from the Live version (that was pretty much a port of the laserdisc), new supplements and the anamorphic transfer from MGM's previous bare bones edition.

"Platoon" follows the story of Chris Taylor (Charlie Sheen), a naive college dropout who enlists in Vietnam as a young man who believes in serving his country. However, Taylor soon realizes he made a pretty big mistake and doesn't know what he's getting in for. Taylor is a grunt (foot soldier) and experiences all aspects of war first-hand. While he must face the battle with the Viet Cong, there is some real internal conflict between himself. Also creating conflict out his two Sergeants. Elias (Willem Dafoe) who has a heart, while Barnes (Berenger) is as cold as ice. Throughout the film, Taylor changes from a nice guy to a man who becomes filled with intense rage and anger, he becomes pretty nasty and begins to lose his sanity. While Stone has created a ton of incredible films with range, this is certainly the cream of the crop in my opinion.

There's really no surprise why "Platoon" is highly regarded and has a mountain of awards, there's a ton to this movie. While I wasn't even alive for Vietnam, from what I've learned and footage I've seen of the way it seems to be incredibly accurate. This movie grips you right from the start and doesn't let you go. It's hard to put this movie in words since there's so much to it, but I am going to do my absolute best.

There's a lot more to "Platoon" than combat and the war, there's a whole "real" sense to it. I mentioned the accuracy and how it is based on Stone's experiences, but what I really liked about how brutally honest this film is. It does not manipulate you or play on your emotions, it creates feelings. Stone's script has some perfectly written dialogue, a great sense of evenness and strong themes about life, humanity and bravery. So many movies try to create these themes, while some come closer than others, this movie creates them perfectly. This is a movie you can analyze to death. A lot of conflicts and a lot of Taylor and his conscience.

The performances are fantastic. Sheen is sincere and truly captures the character of Chris Taylor (who, I once heard in an interview and mentioned in the booklet, was meant for his brother Emilio "Gordon Bombay" Estevez). A man who loses his innocence and becomes traumatized in many ways from the war. Dafoe and Berenger each got Best Supporting Oscar® nods for their roles, as Sgts. Elias and Barnes. I'm a big Dafoe fan, and this is truly one of his best performances as the kind-hearted sergeant who does know about doing the right thing. Berenger is great as Barnes, who is the opposite of Elias. Barnes is just plain mean and hateful.

From a technical standpoint, "Platoon" really does stand out. The editing, sound and directing all won Oscar®s, and they were rightfully deserved. All of those are just captured so well in the film to really bring it to life. The editing never makes things confusing, Stone's directing is personal and the sound takes you there. The film also has some incredible cinematography that was also nominated for an Academy Award® and Stone's script (also nominated) is true to the bone. There's a lot to the script and it's a very remarkable story set against the backdrop of a remarkable war. The movie has a lot of powerful images that really stick with you. I also loved Georges Delerue's deep but really underrated musical score.

"Platoon" is more than a war movie. It's a tremendous experience and shows the power of storytelling. It definently ranks as one of the best war movies of all time, but there's so much more to it. The realities of war, what it brings and the darkness of man's heart. This is a movie that everyone should own, and if you missed it the first two times around, you shouldn't miss it this time. Or maybe you should get it again... you get the best and more from both packages.

MGM's transfer is pretty much the same as last year's... which is always a good thing. The film is in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, and while it stars off terrible with scratches, dirts and print marks, it really does clear up early on. "Platoon" does offer a very good visual experience, with a ton of breathtaking exterior shots. The image has a ton of depth and an excellent three dimensional look to it. The greens of the jungle and reds of the blood have some great saturation, while black levels are dead on. The image does look soft sometimes, and there is a good amount of dirt on the print throughout the film, but there's a ton of good things that do beat out the bad things in the end.

MGM has included an English 5.1 mix with "Platoon" (just like their last release and the Live release), and it appears to be the same one from both of those. While the movie kind of looks its age, the sound doesn't sound worn out or old. Dialogue is clear and easy to understand, there is no distortion or other background sounds do not overpower it. I felt this was a pretty good remix. While more .1 LFE extension could have brought more intensity to the film, and some of the surrounds could have been more powerful, at times I really did feel like I was there experiencing the Vietnam war. The gun shots ringing out, the powerful Georges Delerure music, guns clicking up, the painful screams, crickets chirping in the night time and all the sounds that come with war... I felt there were good surrounds, though I think some won't be as impressed as I was. An English Dolby Stereo track is included, as well as a French Stereo Surround, Spanish Digital Mono and French as well as Spanish subtitles. You also have English closed captioning.

Yes, a dream come true... all the Live supplements and even more in an anamorphic presentation. First up, there are two Commentaries. The first Audio Commentary with Oliver Stone is a gem. Stone always provides commentaries for his films, and I am always happy to see that he's willing to provide insight. Stone, who of course wrote and directed the movie, shares a lot here. From his inspirations from actually serving in the war to some interesting behind-the-scenes stories, there's a lot to gain out of this track from a filmmakers standpoint. He's soft spoken and really gives a lot of great information about vietnam, casting, the making of the film and a lot more. Don't miss this track.

The Audio Commentary with Dale Dye is also quite good. Dale Dye has a small role in the film and served as a military supervisor for the film. Dye has a lot of praise for Stone and the film, and provides a unique rememberance about him working on the film. I wouldn't call it as good as Stone's track, but there is some technical details and good information on making the film realistic.

Tour Of The Inferno is a great documentary that lasts nearly an hour long. It has interviews with Stone, Sheen, Dafoe, more of the cast and some of the crew. It features some vietnam footage, behind the scenes information and a lot more. It's well edited and never drags on. There's a really nice flow to it. You get a lot about the film in addition to it being entertaining. There's also clips from the films. The experiences shared and the detail here is priceless. This really deserves a watch.

Rounding the disc out is some new stuff not on the previous Live addition or MGM addition. You have the original Theatrical Trailer in anamorphic widescreen, three TV Spots (and for some add reason have the MGM Home Video banner before them... maybe because they own them now and Orion no longer exists?), a "Behind The Scenes" Photo Gallery and various Poster Art. Also, in the keep case there is a really nice Collectible Booklet.

Finally, MGM has delivered the best of both worlds. They have taken their great presentation from the bare bones edition released last year and added all the supplements from the Live release from a few years back. All of this for a great price... tremendous movie and a pretty tremendous package. While the original MGM release will be around for the same old retail of twenty bucks, for an extra five it's worth it to take this package.

(4.5/5 - NOT included in final score)

(4/5)

(4/5)

(3/5)

(3.5/5, NOT an average)

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