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Jarhead [Blu-ray]

Jake Gyllenhaal , Jamie Foxx , Sam Mendes    PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)   Blu-ray
3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 17.99 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details
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Product Details

Product Description


Based on Anthony Swofford’s excellent memoir about his experiences as a Marine Sniper in Gulf War I, Jarhead is a war movie in which the waiting is a far greater factor upon the characters than the war itself, and the build up to combat is more drama than what combat is depicted. To some viewers hoping for typical movie action, this will seem like a cruel joke. But it’s not. It’s just the story as it was written, and if you liked the book, you will probably like the movie. If you didn’t, then the movie won’t change your mind.

The movie follows Swofford’s trajectory (played with thoughtful intensity by Jake Gyllenhall) from wayward Marine recruit (he joined because he “got lost on the way to college”) to skilled Marine sniper, and on into the desert in preparation for the attack on Iraq. No-nonsense, Marine-for-life Staff Sgt. Sykes (Jamie Foxx), the man who recruited Swofford and his spotter Troy (Peter Sasarsgaard) into the sniper team, leads them in training, and in waiting where their lives are dominated by endless tension, pointless exercises in absurdity (like playing football in the scorching heat of the desert in their gas masks so it will look better for the media’s TV cameras), more training, and constant anticipation of the moment to come when they’ll finally get to kill. When the war does come, it moves too fast for Swofford’s sniper team, and the one chance they get at a kill--to do the one thing they’ve trained so hard and waited so long for--eludes them, leaving them to wonder what was the point of all they had endured.

As directed by Sam Mendes (American Beauty), the movie remains very loyal to the language and vision of the book, but it doesn’t entirely work as the film needs something more than a literal translation to bring out its full potential. Mendes’ stark and, at times, apocalyptic visuals add a lot and strike the right tone: wide shots of inky-black oil raining down on the vast, empty desert from flaming oil wells contrasted with close-ups of crude-soaked faces struggling through the mire vividly bring to life the meaning of the tagline “welcome to the suck.” But much of the second half of the movie will probably leave some viewers feeling disappointed in the cinematic experience, while others might appreciate its microcosmic depiction of modern chaos and aimlessness. Jarhead is one of those examples where the book is better than the movie, but not for lack of trying. --Dan Vancini

Product Description

Genre: Drama
Rating: PG13
Release Date: 25-NOV-2008
Media Type: Blu-Ray

Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This is not an action movie, and that's ok... Feb. 10 2006
DISCLAIMER: Jarhead is not, repeat NOT, an action movie; if you watch it expecting to see a boatload of action, combat, or lame one-liner's you WILL be disappointed. What you should be expecting to see is a great rendering of what life was like for a US Marine during Desert Storm. The story is unique, the writing and characters and acting are dead-on, the cinematography outstanding and at times surreal, but most importantly it just feels right. This is one of the best movies I saw in 2005 and I recommended it to anyone who's tastes have evolved beyond typical "war" movies.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Semper fi March 5 2006
The film 'Jarhead' is based on a book of the same name by by Anthony Swofford; both the book and the film are bound to make some people angry. A Marine sniper (STA) during Desert Storm I in the early 1990s, he recounted his experiences there with vivid emotion, weaving in his experiences of boot camp, adolescence, and civilian life after the Corps in the process. This is now a major motion picture chronicling many aspects of his story, with significant differences.
It was apparent in the book, and carries over to the film that Swofford has a chip on his shoulder - something he'll most likely readily admit. He has a 'bad attitude', and in fact revels in it. One wonders if this is a product of his war experiences, his Marine Corps training, or his upbringing. At one point his mother, who never really liked the idea of her son being in the Marines, but who wouldn't stand in her son's way, said 'I lost my baby boy when you went to war.' She described Swofford as being sweet and gentle prior to that, and angry and unhappy afterwards. One wonders how much of a change is there - if one can take the stories at face value, this is the same boy who had a fist-fight with his father over going in the Corps at the age of 17, and who had Marine Corps decals put on his shirts as a child. One of his drill instructors even gave Swofford what he considered a great compliment - 'you'll be a great killer someday.'
I make the caveat that one might not be able to take all of this at face value, because like many men in this kind of situation, Swofford is likely to exaggerate - making some pieces more dramatic and other pieces less so.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Almost Perfect March 9 2006
I love this movie, and the collector's edition dvd does not disappoint (I have ONE complaint which I'll address in a bit). The film, if you haven't seen it, is a beautifully shot, thought-provoking war film that doesn't feel like a war film. This is not a typical shoot-em-up, blow-em-up war movie. It shows the boredom of daily marine life, waiting to fight without an outlet for all of the aggression they have been so actively cultivating. The extras are great, and the 2-disc is definitely worth the extra money. Jarhead Diaries is an intensely interesting (and often humourous) look behind the scenes. Background and Semper Fi are also very interesting to watch - especially as a Canadian it was great to learn more about the American Marine culture. Now, my complaint: there are no cast commentaries. Sam Mendes does a great job on his, and there is a second commentary by the screenwriter. However, this is such a character-driven film with some incredible performances - it would have been very nice to hear commentary from them (Gyllenhaal, Foxx, Sarsgaard as well as the lesser known actors who are all excellent). I would have given this dvd 5 stars were it not for that omission. The film, direction, writing and acting are all extraordinary. Overall, it is an excellent buy - any film fan should have it in their collection.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Frickin' Amazing! Oct. 21 2006
This movie blew me away. It is an excellent example of what hollywood can do when they get the right pieces in place.

There are a few things people need to know about this movie to make sure they don't expect something that this movie does not have. This movie is based on the memoir of a man who was in the Marines during desert storm. This isn't some hollywood glorification of war and combat and saving lives in the line of fire. This is a movie about a real person who went to a real war, with a real gun. This movie is about people an what they went through. It is not about the hollywood version of war heroes.

The movie does everything in it's power to not make a judgement on the war, or war in general. It doesn't glorify war any more than it criticizes war and vice versa. It just tell this one man's story. The movie gives you enough information to decide for yourself, or to ignore the whole thing and just appreciate a well-told story.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Contemporary War Classic Jan. 29 2006
Sam Mendes has created a contemporary war classic, in the tradition of ‘Full Metal Jacket’ and ‘Platoon’. Mendes and his cinematographer Roger Deakins are often able to make a raw, gritty war film while at the same time allowing almost every shot to be as visually appealing as a painting, such as when the oil wells ignite, the vastness of the desert, and when Jake Gyllenhall’s character ‘Swoff’ comes across an oil-drenched horse in the desert. The beauty of the film is in the way it perfectly exemplifies the futility of the war, and the frustration of the soldiers – who train for so long and yet feel useless, with no outlet for that training. The film does not give in to the urge of being a typical war or action movie. The fact that this film is about the soldiers and their struggles against loneliness, boredom, and the constant feeling of ineffectiveness is what makes it so great.
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