Winning a raft of awards, not least of which four Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director, Oliver Stone's Platoon was a box-office smash heralding Hollywood's second wave of Vietnam war films. Where predecessors The Deer Hunter (1978) and Apocalypse Now (1979) were elaborate epics, Platoon simply showed the daily reality of the war from the point of view of ordinary soldiers. Stone's own service in Vietnam gives his work a unique authenticity. Charlie Sheen gives his best performance to date, enduring a series of increasingly large-scale and bloody battles... which retrospectively make one wonder why Saving Private Ryan was hailed as so new. Against this gruelling verity the film falters over the symbolic conflict between good and evil sergeants played by Willem Dafoe and Tom Berenger. Even though this was also based in real life, it strikes a too conventionally Hollywood-like note in a film which otherwise maintains much of the raw power of Stone's other film from 1986, Salvador. Johnny Depp fans should look out for an early appearance by the star. Stone would return to Vietnam with the more sophisticated Born on the Fourth of July (1989) and Heaven and Earth (1993). On the DVD: The 50-minute documentary "Tour of the Inferno" goes beyond the usual "making-of" to present a personal account both of the film and of Stone's own time in Vietnam. Likewise the two audio commentaries--one by Stone, the other by Captain Dale Dye, fellow veteran and military technical advisor--range between the making of the film and the degree to which the actors came to inhabit their parts, to their own wartime experiences. Both commentaries bring a fresh level of appreciation and understanding to the film. Also included is the original trailer and three TV commercials, together with well-presented stills galleries of behind-the-scenes photos and poster art. Following a credit sequence marred by dirt on the print, the anamorphically enhanced 1.77:1 image is sharp and clear. The many night scenes are very dark but remain easily comprehensible. The three-channel Dolby Digital sound is suitably raw and powerful, though an early sequence featuring rain in the jungle suffers from very distracting repeated drop-outs in the left channel. --Gary S Dalkin [show more]
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Oliver Stone's award winning film tells the story of a young innocent 19-year-old soldier, Chris Taylor (Charlie Sheen), who is thrown headfirst into the bloody Vietnam conflict. He is forced to fight not only the Viet Cong, but also his own fears and intense anger. As a result of not being able to make any progress against the enemy, the soldiers, led by the strict and unsympathetic Sergeant Barnes (Tom Berenger), are forced to turn their anger and guns on each other. Barnes also has a personal battle with fellow officer Sergeant Elias (Willem Dafoe), who is the more understanding and compassionate of the two officers and helps Sheen to cope with his personal problems.