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Blu-ray Review

DVD cover

25th Anniversary Edition


Starring: Charlie Sheen, Tom Berenger, Willem Dafoe, Forest Whitaker Keith David and Kevin Dillon
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
RRP: £19.99
Certificate: 15
Available 16 May 2011

Chris Taylor is a young, naive American who gives up college and volunteers for combat in Vietnam. Upon arrival, he quickly discovers that his presence is quite nonessential, and is considered insignificant to the other soldiers, as he has not fought for as long as the rest of them and felt the effects of combat. Chris has two non-commissioned officers, the ill-tempered and indestructible Staff Sergeant Robert Barnes and the more pleasant and cooperative Sergeant Elias Grodin. A line is drawn between the two NCOs and a number of men in the platoon when an illegal killing occurs during a village raid. As the war continues, Chris himself draws towards psychological meltdown. And as he struggles for survival, he soon realizes he is fighting two battles, the conflict with the enemy and the conflict between the men within his platoon...

Oliver Stone's Platoon is released on Blu-ray, 25 years after the movie was first shown theatrically. The movie is as fresh and important today as it was on its 1986 release. American soldiers aren't shown as the good old heroes - in fact quite the opposite. On a number of occasions we see them acting in barbaric acts: rape and killing of villagers who don't want anything to do with the war. However, plunged into the nightmare that was Vietnam, the movie shows the grey area between right and wrong and why it is so very easy for good men to overstep that mark.

The audience sees the conflict through the eyes of Charlie Sheen's Chris Taylor, who has just arrived into the thick of the combat area. Like everyone else thrust into the conflict, he doesn't know why he's there or what his chances of survival are, but he's eager to to do his part.

The rest of the platoon is filled with a variety of characters from all walks of life and backgrounds. Although, as Stone explains in his audio commentary, they were mainly from poor families - the war may have ended sooner if more teenagers from middle-class backgrounds had been drafted in.

Parts of the movie have a voice over which represent Taylor's letters to his grandmother. Personally I thought this an unnecessary addition, but it does act as a useful tool to convey to the audience his feelings - especially when he becomes so combat hardened that he no longer wants to write home about his experiences and thoughts.

I'm not sure if there are any new features on this collection, as there are so many different DVD editions, but I'm guessing that this is all material that's been available before. That's a great shame that for the 25th Anniversary some more content wasn't generated. Still, if you're only interested in the movie then the improved picture quality is all you'll really care about.

Extras include an audio commentary with Stone (which can be confusing at times as it's not always clear when he is talking about the filmmaking experiences and when he's remembering his time in Vietnam); an audio commentary with Military Advisor Dale Dye; Deleted and Extended Scenes (11 min, 31 sec with optional director's commentary); Flashback to Platoon (48 min, 38 sec featurettes that look at various aspects of the Vietnam War); One War, Many Stories (25 min, 32 sec group interview with Vietnam veterans talking about their memories); Preparing for Nam (6 min, 36 sec look at how the young men were prepared for war); Vignettes (3 mini interview featurettes - one of which reveals how Gordon Geko in Wall Street got his name); Television Spots; and Theatrical Trailer.

If you don't already own this movie now is the perfect time to add it to your collection.


Darren Rea

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