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"Full Metal Jacket" {2nd Blu-Ray Release}
Taylor Carlson
Studio: Warner Bros.
Release Date:
Special Features:

Documentary, commentary track


Full Metal Jacket is directed by Stanley Kubrick and stars Matthew Modine, Adam Baldwin, Vincent D'Onofrio and R. Lee Ermey. The film is based on Gustav Hasford’s novel The Short-Timers. ***

Full Metal Jacket is set in the midst of the Vietnam War. A group of new recruits are thrown right into boot camp, and are driven to their limits by a tough-as-nails drill sergeant. Amongst them is an aspiring young journalist dubbed “Joker” by their sergeant. As soon as their training concludes (and following a tragedy I won’t spoil here), Joker is sent off to Vietnam where he juggles being both a journalist and a soldier. And with the war raging around every corner, surviving the conflict won’t be easy. ***

War is the one genre Stanley Kubrick kept coming back to. And nearly ever war film he made, regardless of tone or intention, ranks amongst his best work. Full Metal Jacket is no exception, even if the film isn’t quite perfect. ***

One of the great strengths of Full Metal Jacket is, while the film has many characters, it picks and sticks with a particular main character – in this case Joker. We follow Joker from his days in boot camp right out to his days in the heart of the Vietnam war. I admit, he isn’t exactly the most interesting character in the movie (there are a few other guys from the boot camp scenes I think would have made a more interesting leading man) but Kubrick’s approach benefits the film drastically. The fact that the movie doesn’t shy away from showing the ugliness of war makes it seem all the more interesting. ***

The film is divided into two halves – the boot camp scenes and the Vietnam scenes. The boot camp scenes are by far the most interesting – R. Lee Ermey plays the role of his career here, and it’s no surprise that this is what people remember him for playing, or what all his later roles, no matter how minor, seem to reference. The Vietnam scenes are solid as well, but at times feel a bit “generic” in their approach and definitely don’t approach the level of appeal the first half of the film had. Still, Kubrick’s approach to the film works, and he succeeds throughout, even if the first third is the best. The movie also scores points for never feeling dragged out. In fact, this was Kubrick’s only post-Strangelove movie that doesn’t exceed the 2-hour mark. ***

Despite its flaws, Full Metal Jacket is a classic war film that stands the test of time. There have been some great movies about Vietnam over the years (and a few that aren’t so great), but Full Metal Jacket is one of the finest, if not THE finest. War movies are the one thing Kubrick kept revisiting, and his final war movie is one of the best films of his career. ---

Image and Sound:

When the first Full Metal Jacket hit Blu-Ray, it was immediately torn to shreds due to its terrible transfer. Fortunately, Warner Bros. rectified this mistake by rereleasing the film remastered. This new Full Metal Jacket disc looks incredible, easily the best the movie has ever looked. Detail is strong throughout and the movie maintains its gritty, grainy intended look. Audio receives a healthy upgrade, as well, and this really becomes noticeable in action scenes. All in all, an excellent transfer.

Special Features:

There isn’t a whole lot of stuff on here features-wise, but what little is included is well worth your time if you’re a fan of the film. An informative commentary track is featured, as well as a documentary on what it took to bring this classic story to the big screen. If you’re a fan, you won’t want to pass up either of these features.

Final Words:

Full Metal Jacket is one of the greatest war movies ever made, and easily a solid entry in Stanley Kubrick’s filmography, even if it isn’t quite his magnum opus. No fan of the film, war movies, and/or Kubrick should be without this film.


Copyright @ Teakwood Productions 2000
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