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4.2 out of 5 stars
Platoon
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Showing 1-10 of 15 reviews(3 star)show all reviews
on March 9, 2004
I was watching Platoon for the umpteenth time the other weekend when my flatmate came into the room and told me that Platoon had been a great movie, but that it had not maintained its status over the course of the last 15+ years. I can see what he means, the concept isn't great, Charlie Sheen's performance isn't particularly commanding, the key Viet Cong village scene is contrived and the special effects look amateurish by the standards of a Saving Private Ryan.
On the other hand, i think what the film lacks in those categories it makes up for amply with the performances of Willem Dafoe and Tom Berenger as the grizzled, warring Sergeants who have seen it all before. The direction from Oliver Stone is also first rate, as ever, as he takes us into the jungle, through the mud and bugs and into the panic, confusion and desperation of the frenetic war scenes.
Yes, at times, the monologues from Sheen's character are a little irritating and, no, the story isn't complex, or particularly well constructed, but what Platoon lacks in depth, it compensates for with atmosphere (by which i mean tension and not all-out action scenes).
On a broader note, I suppose the whole concept of the war movie has become somewhat cliched in recent years also. The golden oldies saw war as a setting for heroes and tales of miraculous deeds, with the only recent example springing to mind being Memphis Belle. Of late, we have had to get used to the view that all wars are bad, fought for the wrong reasons and that a war movie must be a sidewards protest at the whole event. Black Hawk Down et al, have taken the message out of Platoon and made it standard. They say the highest form of flattery is imitation, but it is also true that the original then loses some of its edge, loses that uniqueness.
Platoon is a great movie, but all ground-breaking films grow up into btroken ground and Platoon is not the exception any longer, rather it has become the rule.
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on February 6, 2002
I served in vietnam in 1969-1970 and no I really do not recall having these so called dramatic problems as Platoon recalls. Platoon really shows the worst of what happened. The average Joe when he views this film will get a feeling of this is what it was like for every guy that was in vietnam. And sadly you are very wrong. Vietnam was a tough place I almost got killed a couple of times but I kept a calm head and did not go crazy and to really tell you I did not see any guys at all while I was there act as strange and wierd as these guys did in this movie. These Hollywood actors think they have it down but not even near! While you watch you begin to think that every soldier went to villages and killed all the Vietmanese, acted like Charlie Sheen and was real cool with a gun, EVERY single soldier smoked pot, and every battle was a living nightmare. It looks impossible to survive but lots of us came back didn't we? Most soldiers wanted to ditch Vietnam and go home and do there tour and leave as soon as possible. We did not get real into the war like these guys did.
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on June 7, 2001
War film based loosely on director Oliver Stone's experiences during our spunky Southeast Asia adventure back in the 60's-early 70's. *Platoon* came out in 1986, a fact that creates the inadvertent problem of the subject-matter losing some of its immediacy. (Remember how tired certain WW2 movies from the 50's were?) Stone certainly had remembered many juicy details: this is definitely a "YOU ARE THERE" movie (indeed, an "I WAS THERE" movie). Despite the many stabs of reality, Stone's script blurs things up. Namely, the characterizations: the two sergeants that exist on opposite ends of the moral compass (Defoe, playing Good, is forced to throw his arms up in the air in a "Why hast thou forsaken me?" gesture) . . . the blank-slated cipher of the young Protagonist, who can't resist dishing up maudlin little epigrams and points of "wisdom" in the voice-over, which is barely audible over a weeping rendition of Barber's Adagio for Strings. I've read that Stone wrote the first drafts of this script back in the early 70's; I believe it. He also brings a novice's enthusiastic wrong-headedness toward the craft of filmmaking. Conversely, it's that same lack of art that makes the combat scenes so compelling, the tension before the battles so unbearable. Subtract the philosophical whingeing, and you have an electrifying combat movie, here. I prefer this Stone -- the earnest Stone -- to the later, overstylized, show-off Stone.
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on August 23, 2000
Platoon, while powerful, is far too preachy. [Director] Oliver Stone tries too hard to force us to follow his beliefs, sweeping aside any possible ambiguity. In one of the more powerful scenes, the massacre of a Vietnamese village and the transformation of the American soldiers to total beasts is indeed gripping but it falls prey to Stone's didactic style. What is more problematic is the voyeuristic treatment of war by Stone's otherwise sensitive camera. For example, the sequence which captures Elias, aims at conveying death as being heroic; this points to the manipulative nature of the film which one has to admit is skilfully concealed through Stone's attempt to provide simultaneously some sort of social criticism.
He uses signs of heavy-handed authorial intrusion through-out his work, pushing it towards propaganda (at one point, US soldiers can be seen waving a Swastika flag). You can hear this in the dialogue, see it in the directorial style. Also note the homage to the best Vietnam war film of all time, Apocalypse Now - Stone uses Martin Sheens son, Charlie, and has him narrate as well. All in all, it is a film worth seeing despite its flaws.
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on August 21, 2000
i'd actully give this movie 3 and a half stars (uh why dosnt amazon just use the 4 star system like everyone else does?). I've watched this movie many, many times as it always seems to play on cinimax when nothing else is on. I like it, but i just dont see why people say it is the best war movie ever. Apocolypse now, or The thin red line, saving private ryan, heck even full metal jacket were better in my opinion. The biggest reason why people like it so much is usualy "the startling reality of the movie". It didnt shock me at all that war was really like this, because i know how it is first hand and i dont see how people are suprised that this is what its like. What did you think it was like? Can you honestly tell me that you thought war was Rambo running through the jungle and wasting everyone he sees? Aside from that argument there are a few scenes that i thought just didnt work in the film. The scene where Willem Deffoe's character dies is almost laughable to me. First he is shot in the chest in the jungle, which would put any man down and out certainly, but then a few minutes later in the film they show him chasing after his evac copter that is leaving him behind. As he's chasing it the enemy is closing in on him, and then they do the slow motion closeup of him running while the enemy is plugging shells into him. Now for one thing, they never actually show any sort of bullet hit him (believe me, if an ak-47 shell hits somebody, you'll see the effects), they just kind of show him twitching around like he's being hit, like you do when your a kid when you playing cowboys and indians. All and all after about twenty rounds are pumped into him he finally collapses. So thats the great reality of war? A guy can take a chest shot and still run a few hundred (maybe even thousand, i dont know) feet to his dust off site and still have enough breath in him to take a a couple dozen more rounds before he goes down? The movie did show what the day to day routine of a grunt was fairly accuratly (even though i do know some lucky grunts who just sat on the beach and drank beer for their entire stay in nam, it wasnt all bad)and for the most part the battle scenes were done pretty well. But you have to watch that one scene and see what im talking about, it looks like something out of a cheap cop movie.
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on January 25, 2004
This was a good film. Platoon does a much better job than its predecessors (most notably the Deer Hunter and Apocalypse Now)of bringing the realities of the Vietnam War home for an average viewer, just as Vidor's The Great Parade did for the Great War in 1925. It shows the hypocrisy and immorality of the Vietnam war. But despite all the preparations Stone put his actors through, I could never take their performances seriously; they just looked and felt too Hollywood. While I recognize its poignancy, Charlie Sheen's narration still felt contrived and unnatural. The scene where Berenger is over Sheen about to kill him when the bombs hit looked like pure Hollywood hokum. Thus, while this film is more important than its earlier Vietnam rivals, its ultimately less successful at being a great film (Oscars not withstanding). Finally, this isn't even Stone's best film of 1986... that honor certainly goes to Salvador for a gripping story and a performance of a lifetime by James Woods.
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on November 21, 2003
Platoon is by no means a bad movie. In fact I rather liked it, but it just wasn't all that great. Charlie Sheen is fine for a nice cheesy comedy, but not really the right actor for something as weighty as this wants to be. And there's the other problem, this film thinks way too much of itself. *Gasp* violence! *Gasp* drugs! *Gasp* insanity! The viewer is told exactly what they are supposed to feel/think in this movie, rather than being given the opportunity to do so themselves. If you take something like Apocalypse Now, or Full Metal Jacket (also good but overrated in my opinion), the sense of insanity, of "off-ness", is simply there, not being lit up with neon signs. If you're looking for a good representation of the Vietnam War, or a political commentary on it, you can do better. Again, I did like it, but I strongly recommend renting this one before plunking down your dough.
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on August 18, 2000
Platoon is an amazing film, however, considering that the previously released version contained all sorts of special edition goodies and this version contains none; it simply falls flat in terms of an overall release. MGMs DVD department had a breif attempt at trying to release DVDs with supplemental features (i.e. RONIN) but has since let Warner Brothers handle all their Titles (Poltergeist, Wizard of Oz). Then they drop the ball on releases of films such as The Usual Suspects, The Princess Bride (not anamorphic? Pu-lease!)
Any I can buy Platoon again. Great. Fine. Too bad I KNOW it coulf have been a heck of a lot better. Then again, maybe MGM doesnt have the rights to the extra features. Anyway MGM has botched it big time.
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on October 3, 2001
I must say that Platoon really bugged me when I watched it. Being a true Apocalypse Now fan, I saw it mearly as a way for Charlie Sheen to capitalize on his dad's success. If you watch for it, it is painfully apparent throughout the movie. While it is supposedly "true" to how war actually is, I kept thinking of how obviously this movie is trying to become a hollywood blockbuster rather than a true art film. One of my major gripes with it was how strained the dialouge seems. Rarely is there any true emotion in the film and much of the movie is build on common war movie cliches both in the action and the acting. Otherwise, I thought it was a fine war film, but definately not the best Vietnam film ever. Apocalype Now takes that crown.
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on January 7, 2001
Oliver Stone is not my favorite director by any means; this guy, i.e., Stone feels as if has the artistic license to change history to make it come out according to a version that pleases his ear and eye. Platoons story line is weak and not that interesting. However, the movie is saved by good performances from Willem Dafoe, Charlie Sheen and Tom Berenger. Overall though, Platoon VHS ~ Tom Berenger ends up being an all right movie; when it could have become so much more. I have to give credit to the fight scenes; these are very authentic and shows the true nature of warfare.
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