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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)
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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
7 of 7 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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Dec 12 2008
Jarhead, based on the best-selling memoir by former United States Marine Anthony Swofford, recounts his experiences during Desert Storm.

After a brief sequence depicting the brutal humiliation Swofford endured during Boot Camp, as well as his subsequent training as a sniper, his platoon is subsequently deployed to Saudi Arabia. With frequent rousing speeches -- heavily imbued with American propaganda -- the men are eager to see combat and make their first kill.

But they must first play a waiting game, as the film focuses on their interminable boredom and the difficulty in maintaining relationships with wives and girlfriends back home. Nearly six months pass before the war begins which, for Swofford, lasts a mere four days; as he laments, "I never shot my rifle..."

The screenplay by William Broyles Jr. captures Swofford's sardonic tone and shoots through a series of events. But it fails to convey the author's constant fear of attack or his increasing doubt about his chosen role. In fact, the entire story is rather pointless, but that may very well be Swofford's point. However, by not taking a pro-war or anti-Bush platform, the film accomplishes nothing and suffers as a result.

While Jarhead attempts to do for the Gulf War what Platoon did for Vietnam, it has none of the latter's horror, edge or emotion. And the eclectic soundtrack accentuates the film's inability to define itself.

Director Sam Mendes portrays the Marines as rugged but, for the most part, vacuous. More a character study than a chronicle of war, Mendes chills the viewer with images of charred refugees and rains of oil from blazing wells.
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4.0 out of 5 stars a pleasant surprise (3.5/5) Nov. 9 2007
By falcon
i had no interest in seeing jar head prior to watching it.judging by
all the previews,i thought it would be just another boring war movie,at
best.however,my buddy had taped it so we decided to give it a try.after
all, we had just sat through the train wreck that was Silent Hill,and
it couldn't be any worse.turns out,it was quite a well done movie.its
depiction of a company of marines and their lives during dessert shield
and dessert storm,was,i'm sure, an accurate portrayal of military
life.giving this movie extra credence is that it is adapted from a
novel by Anthony Swofford,who was himself a marine during both dessert
shield and dessert storm.The book and the movie chronicle his
experience during that time.and while the producers may have taken some
dramatic liberty,i believe it does stick close to the facts.Jake
Gyllenhall does well as the title character,and Jamie Foxx is very
strong as Staff Sgt.Sykes his,commanding officer.Peter Sarsgarrd is
also strong as Troy,a fellow marine and friend.and i can't forget Chris
Cooper who has a small and memorable role as well,which he infuses with
his usual brilliance.I believe the filmmakers did a good job depicting
life as a marine waiting for action in Kuwait.the film is well paced,
and tightly directed,with very few unnecessary scenes.there are also
touches of humour injected into the film.for a movie of this genre,it
is surprisingly lighthearted for the most part.it did not feel heavy
handed at all,and did not have the cloud of depression hanging over it
as many war themed movies do.it did have its dramatic moments of
course,but these moments did not oppressively choke the film.all in
all,a solid,entertaining piece of work. 3.5/5
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