on May 10, 2004
Regarded by many as the best Vietnam War movie of them, the first half of the film is absolutely riveting as Oliver Stone's platoon descends upon a remote village which eerily recalls the My Lai massacre. It is such a visceral movie. You can just about smell the cleaning of the latrines. However, the second half of the movie gets bogged down in the quagmire as Stone plays the good sergeant off the bad sergeant, drugs off alcohol, black infantrymen off white infantrymen, etc. Dafoe and Berenger play extremely well off each other with Dafoe becoming the ultimate martyr during the helicopter lift that is the signature scene of the movie. Charlie Sheen showed much promise as Private Chris Taylor, but never measured up to the role in subsequent movies. This is probably Oliver Stone's best effort. Certainly, his most personal, as he did more to capture the sense of a platoon in combat than did any other director, but unfortunately he couldn't avoid resurrecting traditional movie themes rather than letting the action carry itself.
on April 25, 2004
A 1986 depiction of the American forces in Vietnam, Oliver Stone's Platoon gives incredible insight into the lunacy caused from war with its emotional and harsh representation of American soldiers slipping into darkness during their tour of duty through Vietnam. Charlie Sheen stars as Chris, a college drop out who volunteers for combat and instead goes to hell. Torn by the insanity that is prominent in the brutality of Sergeant Barnes (Tom Berenger) and the unrealistic morality of Sergeant Elias (Willem Dafoe), Chris soon realizes the cold and despair felt by all.
This classic Vietnam portrayal won four Academy Awards including Best Picture and Director. Platoon delved past the initial us and them conflict. Not only showing the dispute with the Viet Cong, it represented a civil war between the soldiers themselves with the violent followers of Barnes versus the moral personalities supporting Elias, and even divided them through their differences in drug choices. Not for family viewing, Platoon is a classic illustration of the madness brought on by combat, and is for all who want to learn of the Vietnam experience.
on April 21, 2004
Platoon is a gritty portrayal of a young man's introduction to war and Vietnam. This is definitely not an uplifting flag-waving film, but what would you expect from Oliver Stone? Very real, and surreal at times, Platoon unveils the tragedy, destruction and dehumanization of war. Sheen does a decent job, but it's Berenger and Dafoe that deserve all of the acting acclaim here. Just bubbling below the surface of over the top territory, Berenger and Dafoe unleashe fierce performances. Though Stone does showcase the terrible truths of war, he also portrays the camaraderie and bonds of the men trying to keep each other alive. The fighting scenes are violent and scary and impossible to turn away from. This is a very dark and gritty depiction of the Viet Nam war. Naturally, one must compare this movie to other 'Nam motion pictures. I still think Apocalypse Now was the best. Platoon is pretty much tied with Full Metal Jacket. Some viewers compared Platoon to Saving Private Ryan- no way. Ryan was an epic World War II film, where there was a clear definition of morality. Platoon focuses on the "greyness" of good and evil. There was no triumph at the end of the film. What were they fighting for anyway? I had a major problem with American soldiers killing each other, but that was probably the point of the film. It's a good movie to watch, but not the "end-all" war movie that some think it is. What I enjoyed most about Platoon is it tells the story how Vietnam (probably) was. It says there is no winner in a war. It's miserable for everybody. It breaks even the toughest people down emotionally and physically. I highly recommend it.
on April 13, 2004
All the praise that this film has garnered, both from fans and critics is absolutely justified after watching this amazing film. This has all the ingredients of fine filmmaking: great acting, a solid script, clever direction, and impressive prowess concerning all the technical aspects such as cinematography and film editing. The acting, for the most part, is excellent. Tom Berenger has the best performance of his long career in this film, chewing up the scenery alongside some other fine supporting turns. Willem Dafoe, better known these days as The Green Goblin in the film "Spiderman," is equally noteworthy as an elite soldier who no longer believes in the war, but is willing to do whatever is necessary to insure the safety of his men and himself. This is an exceptional cast. The only weak performance here is a short scene with director Oliver Stone pretending to act, and doing it badly. But the scene is brief, and it was his movie, after all. The script, which was written by director Stone, hovers between the crude dialogue of the common soldiery and the philosophical narration of the title character, Taylor, played by Charlie Sheen. But with the soldiers there is never a wasted syllable, and while walking precariously along the cliffs of sanctimony the main character's thoughts are nevertheless firmly grounded in the nightmarish reality of war. Director Oliver Stone is fearless here, commanding extended tracking shots and provoking his large cast into heartfelt renderings of these realistic characters. All the characters are in the least, memorable, at their best, haunting. There are two scenes that work so well as to go unnoticed. One is when Barnes(Berenger) is moving through the jungle slowly from the right of the screen to the left. The film cuts to Elias(Dafoe) running from left to right. A headlong collision is inevitable at some point, but tension is built up sufficiently so that when they finally do come face-to-face the audience knows something bad is going to happen. Another scene is directly after a huge Napalm strike. The screen goes bright white, then slowly fades in showing the jungle in stark black-and-white photography with the color creeping in as the camera pans right to show a stunned and bewildered Taylor(Sheen) rising up and regaining his wits. Stone won his first Oscar for Best Director for his work here. This film won a total of 4 Oscars: Director(Stone), Film Editing, Sound, and Best Picture. It was nominated for 8 Oscars, the remaining 4 include Original Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor for both Berenger and Dafoe, and Cinematography. The cinematography is superb, the gifted Robert Richardson working the lenses. He and Oliver Stone tag-teamed once again 3 years later for "Born on the Fourth of July," both collecting Oscar nominations, Stone winning for the second time. In 1991 they worked together on the film "JFK," both were nominated once more, and Richardson finally won the Oscar. "Platoon" is the beginning of this magnificent collaboration, and is certainly one of the more intense Vietnam War films ever brought to the screen.
on March 28, 2004
I've only given 5 stars to a handful of films, but Platoon deserves it.
I never served in war, so how real Stone's depiction of the Vietnam war is I can't say. However, comments in the commentaries (where else?) indicate that though most vets might quibble with minor details, they give high marks to the authenticity and verisimilitude. It is pretty scary when you are 6 feet in front of an enemy bunker but do not see it.
As with all Oliver Stone movies, there is some blur between fact and fiction, but he was in Vietnam, so I can only assume he knows what he is talking about. Made on a budget of only 6 million, Stone manages to lead his platoon of actors through an ensemble performance that would capture oscars for Best Picture, Best Director, Editing, and Sound, plus nominations for Best Supporting Actor for Willem Dafoe and Tom Berenger. Other unknown or rising stars (including Johny Depp, John C. McGinley, Kevin Dillon, Mark Moses) were excellent as well.
Some unforgettable images and scenes, least of which is the one on the DVD cover (which was the main movie poster, too). In Stone's commentary, he says he might have "gotten a little operatic" with Samuel Barber's "Adagio for Strings" in this scene. I beg to differ - this is the best music/visual combo in film, although some of "Apocalypse, Now" is close. This piece of music has been used in tons of films, but never more emotionally than here.
Some might say the ending narration is a bit sappy - but I think it made the film - and certainly it is an honest evaluation of an unreal situation by a young kid who really has seen it all.
Besides a 5-star movie, there are two insightful commentaries (Stone, and technical adviser Dale Dye), and good behind-the-scenes series of cast comments.
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.
on February 16, 2004
The special edition of Platoon is special for a couple of reasons. First the two voiceovers. Dale Dye gives you the technical, not only of the movie, but of the platoon. Oliver Stone gives you that autobiographical insight into where he was at not only during the making of the film, but when he lived the film. No movie is going to catch combat correctly. Some will come close. Some will catch the look, the smell, the nuance of the ubsurdity of the experience. While the film isn't gospel it gives you a look into the evolution of a human being into an animalistic automaton. That's what you sometimes did to survive. You thought only about getting from one sunrise until the next one. You made no friends because you didn't want to know the nebie when he died. There is a line King uses as he's leaving before the climactic battle. "You may go home, but you don't ever leave the Nam!" Over 30 years later and it can still bring grown men to tears. I did three tours in 67, 68, 69, & part70. This film tells hard, but honest truths.
on February 2, 2004
Director Oliver Stone has assembled an all-star cast for this fine film about the life of an Army platoon in the Vietnam war. Charlie Sheen stars as Chris Taylor, a privleged college drop-out who volunteers for infantry duty in Vietnam. He believes that its unfair for the poor boys to be fighting the war while the rich get to stay at home. Once in Vietnam, he is assigned to a platoon commanded by Sgt. Barnes, played magnificently by Tom Berenger. Barnes is a hard-drinking, hard-fighting soldier who, according to the film, had been shot seven times and survived. Barnes' only thought is to destroy the elusive Viet Cong. Also in the platoon is another sergeant, Sgt. Elias, played by Willem Dafoe. Elias is the polar opposite of Barnes. He has grown tired of the war after several tours of duty, but he still believes in the fighting man himself.
What occurs throughout the movie can only be described as a "civil war". Half of the men side with Barnes and his gung-ho attitude, while the rest side with Elias and his compassionate style. The friction between Barnes and Elias reaches a boiling point when the group burns down a suspected V.C. village. Elias believes that Barnes acted too quickly and threatens to report him to the C.O. A fear begins to exist for Taylor and the rest of the platoon from both outside and inside.
The fighting in the movie is very realistic and graphic, while the army life in general is accurately portrayed. The fire fight at the end of the movie between the Americans and the V.C. is especially well-done.
I've seen this movie several times, and I enjoy it each time I see it. The acting is excellent, and the realism is first-rate. Berenger and Dafoe were both nominated for Academy Awards for their fine performances, while the movie itself won for Best Picture. Other movies released during the same time (Full Metal Jacket, Hamburger Hill) were good, but Platoon stands out as the best in my opinion. Watch and feel the power of Platoon; a gripping film about a war we may not want to remember, but one we must never forget.
on January 27, 2004
Oliver Slone's masterpiece! Platoon is by far the greatest war movie of all time. The story follows Chris Taylor (Charlie Sheen) who drops out of high school to volunteer to go to Vietnam. He soon realizes what a big mistake he has made. Chris is lead by two father figures. Sgt. Elias (Willem Dafoe) is the much more caring and helpful figure. That along with his addiction to pot and other drugs, make him the more free spirited character of the film. Sgt. Barnes (Tom Berenger) is the total opposite of Elias. He is cold and has no feelings what so ever. Like Elias, he too has an addication. Alcohol. He seems almost robotic-like. No feelings, who clearly has been taken up by the war and has fell into the dark side. Both in which meet an untimely and unexpected death.
As Chris fights his battles and serves his country, he is constantly faced with the consequenses of his decisions. Some good, some not. He grows as a person from the naive, barely out of high school, teenager to a mature and understanding young man.
This brilliantly made film is the pit of Stone's acheivements. It won the Oscar for Best Picture of the Year in 1987, as well as the Oscar for the Best Director. If you like movies such as Apocalypse Now, Born on the Fouth of July, The Deer Hunter, or even Forest Gump or Saving Private Ryan then I highly reccomend Platoon to you. It's an extrordanary film that definatly is the best depiction of war that I have ever seen. Also starring Johnny Depp.
on December 31, 2003
Oliver Stones semi-autobiographical account of his tour in Vietnam is presented in a solid and unpretentious DVD.
What makes this movie work is that it avoids the trap of being self-indulgent and does not pontificate. You aren't being beat over the head with a morality tale. Which is what would have happened in the hands of a less capable director. It relies on fully realized and highly watchable characters and what they do in the environment that they are in to tell the story. It's one of the best war films for this reason.
The DVD features are great. The widescreen presentation adds to jungle locale of the film and makes you realize what you have missed on veiwing pan & scan versions of VHS and/or cable. "Tour of the Inferno" the making of documentary is exceptional and is one of the more enjoyable ones I have seen. Not only do you see Sheen, Stone & Berenger, but you also get to see Johnny Depp and Forrest Whitaker as well. All of them a great when telling thier stories about the making of the film. The audio commentary by Stone is also a standout.
The movie is great, the features are valid and the price is right. There is no reason to hold out for a two-disc uberversion. A staple in any collectors library.