Full Metal Jacket: 25th Anniversary
Oliver Stone practically had to sell his soul to get Platoon made at a time when no movie studio wanted to revisit the Vietnam War. After that film won the Oscar for Best Picture of 1986, however, it kicked open the floodgates, and suddenly movie theaters everywhere were inundated with Vietnam War films like Hamburger Hill, Casualties of War, and Full Metal Jacket, and all paled in comparison with Platoon. With Full Metal Jacket, legendary filmmaker Stanley Kubrick examines the ritualistic dehumanization of the American Marine through rigorous boot camp training and transformation into a remorseless killing machine. The question he poses to us is: When you strip a man of his humanity, what’s left? Matthew Modine stars as Private Joker, a soldier with “Born to Kill” written on his helmet, yet who wears a peace symbol button on his fatigues.
Full Metal Jacket is not Kubrick’s best work by a long shot, but one thing’s for certain, he sure made it his way. And it did produce two career-making performances from two unknown actors at the time: R. Lee Ermey as Gunnery Sergeant Hartman, the profane drill instructor with all the best lines; and Vincent D’Onofrio as Private Pyle, the hapless recruit driven to madness, murder, and suicide.
For those of you keeping score, this is the third version of Full Metal Jacket to be released on Blu-ray. The HD picture exhibits excellent sharpness and clarity and is a marked improvement on its 2006 predecessor, but it’s the same remastered transfer from the 2007 deluxe edition. This new 25th Anniversary Edition is presented in the Digibook format with 48 pages of photographs, bios, and production notes. Unfortunately, the sound remains unchanged from the original Dolby Digital 5.1. It has scattered moments of auditory panache but falls woefully short of the finesse of a DTS-HD lossless audio mix.
Extras include the theatrical trailer, a retrospective documentary, and a feature- length audio commentary with the screen- writer and several actors. A bonus DVD contains a documentary called Stanley Kubrick’s Boxes, an interesting look into the countless items from Kubrick’s personal collection of research material stored and filed away at his house in London.
For the frugal and scrupulous, the new documentary and Digibook format may not be enough incentive to justify the expenditure of the upgrade if you already own last year’s remastered jewel case edition.
Studio: Warner Bros., 1987
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio Format: Dolby Digital 5.1
Length: 117 mins.
MPAA Rating: R
Director: Stanley Kubrick
Starring: Matthew Modine, R. Lee Ermey, Vincent D’Onofrio