Platoon: Special Edition

January 28, 2012 10 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

When young Chris Taylor (Charlie Sheen) arrives in war torn Vietnam to serve his country, he quickly learns that the war is about much more than fighting the Vietnamese. As he makes his rounds he is stricken with total fear of his situation, but he handles himself well and remains on his toes and survives his first night in the field. As time passes he soon learns that things are not like he imagined and the cause he fights for might not be so noble after all. He watches as innocent lives are destroyed around him and even sees serious tension within his own fellow soldiers. The main conflict arises between Sergeant Barnes (Tom Berenger) and Sergeant Elias (Willem Dafoe), both of whom have seen many tours of duty and wear the scars both mentally and physically. Barnes has taken his anger and frustration with war and manifested it in the form of ruthless violence, which means he has no problems with killing innocents and such. Elias on the other hand is just as battle worn, but chooses to remain positive and keep his faith in what he believes he is fighting for. As Chris is delivered orders from the two men, sometimes conflicting, he is forced to make a choice and decide which side of the war he fight on.

Some folks claim that the third time is the charm and in the case of Platoon on DVD, that phrase rings truer than ever before. The first time Platoon was released, it contains some great supplements, but went out of print quickly, soon becoming a most sought after disc on the secondary market. But then MGM picked up the rights and issued a new version, which offered much improved video levels, but lacked those terrific extras, a bad decision to be sure. Now we have a new edition from MGM and this time, they’ve given us the release we’ve been waiting for and then some. This version has the audio enhancements from the previous MGM disc, plus all the supplements from Live’s original release, as well as some new added features also. In short, this is the definitive edition of Platoon, so it deserves a place in any fan’s collection to be sure. As for the movie itself, this is my favorite war movie ever and as such I recommend it highly. I think this is a very brutal and realistic film that makes you feel right in the thick of things, which not all war flicks can do. It never seems staged and overly flashy (ala Saving Private Ryan) and comes across with a very realistic edge. The disc is nice and well worth the cash, but whether or you rent or purchase make sure you check out this excellent motion picture. I mean come on, it won Best Picture back when that meant something!

This film was written and directed by Oliver Stone, who used his personal experiences from Vietnam to guide his work on this film. Some of the events even happened to Stone and his personal experience is what gives this movie such a realistic feel and texture. Stone creates a very harsh and brutal environment to be sure, but I think that is what makes this such a powerful and memorable picture. Stone pulls no punches when it comes to violence and morally conflicting situations and that drives home what Stone is saying about war and morals. If you want a clean cut film about war then check out Saving Private Ryan, but if you want a powerful and realistic one then this is your flick. If you want to see more of Stone’s films I recommend Natural Born Killers, Any Given Sunday, Heaven & Earth, Wall Street, and JFK. While Charlie Sheen isn’t known for his dramatic acting, he gives the performance of his career in this movie. Sheen (Major League, Hot Shots) turns in a terrific performance here and I think it hints to what his potential might have been. Also very solid in this movie are Tom Berenger (Last Of The Dogmen, Betrayed) and Willem Dafoe (The Last Temptation Of Christ, White Sands), who bring the rivalry of their characters to life very well. The supporting cast also includes Kevin Dillon (No Escape, Hidden Agenda), John C. McGinley (Office Space, Three To Tango), Johnny Depp (Ed Wood, Sleepy Hollow), and Forest Whitaker (Ghost Dog: The Way Of The Samurai, Battlefield Earth).

Video: How does it look?

Platoon is presented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. This is a very solid transfer and while it does have some small flaws, I think this is the best the film has ever looked on home video. I found no edge enhancement at all and other compression hiccups were at a bare minimum also. This is what plagued the previous Artisan release of Platoon and I am pleased to see this disc overcome those obstacles. The colors are excellent, especially the lush greens and muddy browns and I think the flesh tones come through in warm and normal hues as well. I detected no problems in the contrast area either, as shadows were stark and complex and detail level is always quite high. Fine work from MGM and I hope we see more of the same in the future.

Audio: How does it sound?

This is the same mix as the previous MGM and Live releases, but as with the prior MGM edition, features a higher bitrate, if you’re interested. This movie begs for an active and powerful audio experience, but the surrounds see little action in this mix, mainly due to the age of the film and the limits of remastering older mixes. This release uses a Dolby Digital 5.1 track and while it does present an excellent sound experience, it just lacks the punch and drive I expected from the film. When the surrounds are used for more subtle audio they sound terrific, but when they try to really open up they have a more forced texture. But while this is not as booming as I would like, the mix does get the job done in the end. The dialogue and smaller effects come across very well and all in all, this is a solid track. This disc also includes an English 2.0 surround option, as well as language tracks & subtitles in Spanish and French.

Supplements: What are the extras?

This special edition contains all the bonus materials from the Live edition, as well as some added goodies to put the cherry top, a very handsome package. It all starts with Tour of the Inferno, an excellent behind the scenes documentary that runs a shade under an hour. This is one of the best documentaries you’ll see on DVD, with an engrossing look at Platoon and how it was made. You’ll see insightful interviews with Oliver Stone, Charlie Sheen, Tom Berenger, and other cast members, who reveal a lot about Platoon’s production. Even more insight awaits within the first of two audio commentary sessions, this one with director Oliver Stone. Stone as usual is quite talkative and loose, telling a lot of stories instead of technical information. But if you want a more technical perspective, you’ll find that in the second track, which features military supervisor Capt. Dale Dye. He talks about the standards used to ensure realism, as well as various production notes and stories. This disc also includes a trio of television spots, a selection of still photos, and the film’s theatrical trailer.

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