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Platoon

1986 Vietnam War film written and directed by Oliver Stone

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Putting the anti in anti-war.

  • Feb 22, 2011
Rating:
+4
***1/2 out of ****

Oliver Stone's "Platoon" is a real multi-tasker; it is both a war film and an anti-war film. There are many war films out there, many of them historical for many different reasons, as well as many of them forgettable. "Platoon" is one of the great ones; a film that does not want to promote warfare, but rather wants to show how ugly and brutal it can get. I know that some criticize the film for its violence and depiction of war, although we all have to face the truth; this is war, and this is what happens. The film is given an emotional punch due to what it depicts, and that is what makes it so darn good. Oliver Stone is a talented filmmaker who wanted to make this film because he was once a Vietnam War Veteran. He wanted to create a tribute to those who died; as well as make one of the best Vietnam War films to date. I suppose that you know more about a subject such as war if you were actually a part of it; and Oliver Stone, being the ex-Vietnam Vet. that he is, should know a hell of a lot about the merry ol' war itself. Stone's direction and casting makes this film excellent; and entertaining to the core. Or perhaps entertaining is not the right word for what this film is, since it is a painful and powerful war story. It can be hard to watch at times, especially in the emotional scenes, but there's nothing that can hold it down. My theory is that if you don't like Oliver Stone, then you probably won't like "Platoon" all that much. The guy is making a film which covers a subject that is personal to him; although that won't make much difference to those who just don't like him as a director. I think he can be a visionary, when he wants to, although he is not without his failures and mediocrity pieces. But he also makes films like this, and that is why Stone is a name to remember. This is truly one of his finest movies; a war film with a meaning, and a depiction of violence with a purpose. I highly recommend that you watch the film since coming from a Ex-Vietnam War Veteran, I'm sure that this film is pretty darn accurate. It's not a movie for everyone, but it's certainly a film for me. And that's all that it really needs to be in this case. I enjoyed this film; warts and all. It is intense, emotionally shattering, and somewhat unforgettable. These are all great qualities of a great war film; possibly one of the best ones ever made. The film explodes with insight, passion, and artful filmmaking. If you thought that Kubrick had it right when he made "Full Metal Jacket", then let me just tell you that frankly, you ain't seen anything yet.

An American named Chris leaves College to serve his country in the Vietnam War. He enters the war a naïve and uneducated young man; unaware that his life is about to change drastically. Upon entering war territory, he finds it hard to adapt. But throughout the film, we see how he soon learns the way of war; and how he accepts it as his duty to protect. Overall, the story the film tells is trying to make a statement. This is one of the first anti-war films ever made; one which seems to want to show the audience just how bad war really is. Many war films manage to make war look cool and fun; but in reality, it's neither cool nor fun. It's just horrible, violent, messy, and soul-shattering. It's not good for you, and it's like a bad drug; you can't get off of it once you're addicted. In this case, the drug is violence and bloodshed; and the abusers are the soldiers. The film wants to show how in a mere two weeks, sane men can become wild animals thirsty for blood. I don't assume that the characters of the film will ever be the same again after the events depicted in the film, but then again, it's not up to us to guess their fate. "Platoon" sets out to be an effective and powerful War film, and it succeeds at being just that. I find the film at its best when it's being intense and violent; the two things that people tend to complain about when regarding this film. While the themes present in this film are now common in most good war films today, this might as well be one of the first to use the ugly truth of war as its central theme. I kind of like how Stone tells the tale, and he doesn't just tell it; he crafts it. The film is haunting in its depiction of the battlefield, and it's not for everyone. I even found it (sort of) intense, but never hard on the stomach. But emotion can be expressed through pain, and in this case it is. And that is precisely what I love about this movie.

Before Charlie Sheen went on to star in crap like "Two and a Half Men", he was in movies like this one here. And you know what; he was damn good. Sheen performance is bordering on memorable here, and he starts out appropriately innocent and ends up with a lust for blood. I like his strong portrayal of a solider; although a lot of credit goes to Stone for creating the character. The film also features a nigh ensemble cast, including the likes of Forest Whitaker, Willem Dafoe, Kevin Dillon, John C. McGinley, Keith David, Tom Berenger, and Johnny Depp. There's also a sneaky cameo from the director himself. The real surprise here is that in spite of the huge cast, everyone does genuinely well. Some people shine more than others (Willem Dafoe is a show-stopper in particular); while everyone else is still pretty good in their roles. I appreciate the time that went into casting this film; and each actor occupies an endearing character that is worth following. You can't have generic war hero-types if you want to make a great-good war movie, and that is why Stone casted the people that he did. He made some damn good choices as the director of this film; some damn good choices, indeed.

War is frightening. That's the truth, and Oliver Stone wants to show the audience a part of what he saw while fighting for our nation. Sure, some stuff you just can't translate from life to film, but I'd say Stone does a pretty solid job anyways. His mission here is to create a moving piece of war film, and in many ways, he has made just that. I think that "Platoon" is a near-perfect film that I kind of love; not one of my favorite films, but definitely one that needs to be seen. The film itself is haunting; an intense depiction of not only war, but violence in general. Here we have soldiers who enter the world of war with naivety. They exit with experience and mental scars. When you're in a war, you don't leave with much sanity. To my knowledge, an experience such as that changes you. This film haunts the viewer like a war would haunt the soldier; it lingers in the mind forever. You can make an entertaining war movie easily; complete with gunfights and all. But when it comes to making a war movie that shouldn't even be called entertaining, well then, you need to do a little more than that. "Platoon" doesn't use its violence and gunfights for entertainment; and everything in the film is used for artistic merit. Stone is a talented filmmaker; a man who can summon thematic material out of thin air. In that sense, he has earned himself quite a reputation. He's not a favorite of mine, but I like what he has done here. "Platoon" is a beautifully shot and emotionally arrested war/anti-war film, and for that, I recommend it greatly. There is beauty to this war motion picture; beauty that few war films can truly replicate. At least not this well.

Instead of being dumb, pretentious, and mindless; "Platoon" is a war film with guts and intellect. Stone has experience, and he puts it to use when it comes to his direction and overall filmmaking. He has a good cast, a good production team, and plenty of other talented minds at work here; all of who he puts to good use. I like "Platoon" as much as I did because it is very good filmmaking; but it's also interesting to watch. Few Vietnam War films give this much insight; and few have as many memorable scenes as this one. I know I may come off as the generic movie watcher when I say this, but that scene with Willem Dafoe's character dying a slow and painful death; it's bound to stick with me. That was the best scene in the film; which is probably why it has become iconic for the film. My advice is to see this film. It is entertaining, brutally honest, well-acted, and appropriately intense. It tells a worthwhile story, and it also provides a solid character study. The film is general and never feels too indulgent for its own good; and that's something you have to appreciate (especially out of a guy like Oliver Stone). This may not be his best film overall, but it's definitely one of them. One of 1986's best for sure; mostly due to it's undeniably power and intense appeal. Not everyone will be able to watch it with ease; but that doesn't matter at this rate. And if someone tells you that "Platoon" is heartless, they are very wrong. This film has a heart; and a soul as well. After all, why else would it be good? It supplies the satisfactory war sequences that you would normally expect, as well as a little something more in return for sticking with it. A movie like this must have payoff, and luckily, it kind of does. I like "Platoon" a lot. It is an artistically made and powerful film; and I think it will appeal to most people. The last thing I will say is that I definitely think it is worth seeing; even if it is violent. But war is violent; and this film is simply being honest by showing the stuff that it shows. After all, "The First Causality of War is Innocence". That's damn right.

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February 23, 2011
Excellent review, this is one of my favorite war films.
February 25, 2011
Thanks for commenting.
 
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More Platoon reviews
review by . September 14, 2006
posted in Movie Hype
Based upon director and writer Oliver Stone's own experiences in Vietnam, PLATOON was the first major motion picture about that war directed by a veteran from that conflict. The movie revolves around a young American soldier, Pvt. Chris Taylor (a young Charlie Sheen) and the platoon he lives and fights with during his tour of duty. The battle sequences are very gritty, graphic, and realistic. Taylor serves under the direct leadership of Sgt. Elias Grodin (Willem Dafoe), but both men are under the …
review by . May 14, 2006
posted in Movie Hype
Twenty years later, after PLATOON was released in 1986 and brought some of the horrors of the Vietnam experience to the public's media-jaundiced eye, at last the film can be seen and discussed critically. 'At last', in this viewer's vocabulary, includes the fact that more time for healing from actually being in Vietnam in 1968 and 1969 has passed, making the response to Oliver Stone's film more rational. Now the film is a film, not a nightmare memory inducer, and that fact in no way diminishes the …
About the reviewer
Ryan J. Marshall ()
Ranked #3
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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Wiki

Platoon is a Vietnam war based film released on December 19, 1986 and produced by Orion Pictures.  The film was directed and written by Oliver Stone. Platoon was produced by Arnold Kopelson, and starred Charlie Sheen, Tom Berenger and Willem Dafoe.

Platoon is about a young recruit in Vietnamwho faces a moral crisis when confronted with the horrors of war.  After its release the film received 9 nominations, and celebrated 18 wins and 4 Academy Awards in 1987 for BestDirector, Best Film Editing, Best Picture, and Best Sound.

The film was shot in Luzon, Philippinesin 1986. It was given an MPAA rating of Rand runs 120  minutes.

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