Thursday, December 20, 2007

Platoon (1986)

First, a big thank you to everyone who wished me birthday greetings, including Casey, Mom, Dad, Lindzy, BerryBird, Nadine, Liz, Galen, Tavis, Nando, Kelli, Walter, and anyone else I might have forgotten.

Now, on with the review. I'll admit I was not very pumped to see this one. It's about the Vietnam War, and I feel The Deer Hunter covered this territory as well as any movie ever could. I got a little bit more pumped when I read the opening credits and saw lots of familiar names in addition to Willem Dafoe, who I thought was the star of it and also is fricking awesome.

I genuinely liked this movie, but it suffered from my biggest pet peeve when it comes to movies of any kind: pretentious, preachy dialogue that no one in real life ever actually says. In this movie, they try to pass that stuff off as Taylor, the main character, narrating letters he's writing home, but it still doesn't work for me. I'm plenty smart enough to figure out that the soldiers are fighting themselves as well as the NVA, and that the conflict between Barnes and Elias is a physical manifestation of that struggle without Taylor telling me that's what's happening. I've not seen enough of Oliver Stone's work to know if this is a regular tactic of his or not, but it really needs to go.

As I said, I liked this movie, I'd recommend it, and I probably wouldn't mind seeing it again. It suffers from the fact that The Deer Hunter, a movie that I'm not going to see again because it almost traumatized me, preceded it by 8 years and forever set the standard for movies about Vietnam. However, it is helped by the fact that it deals more with the atrocities of war as opposed to its effect on its participants, and because 19 years later, Crash would come along and take preachy, pretentious dialogue that nobody says in real life to new levels of ridiculousness, which makes the few instances of it in Platoon seem much more forgiveable.

So, in all, good movie. Excellent acting, good directing, a bit heavy-handed writing.

Also, what are the odds that two stars of this bleak, dark drama about the atrocities humanity is capable of would go on to star in popular, light-hearted sitcoms? Probably better than the odds that two stars of Predator would go on to become governors, but still doesn't seem likely.

Time to update the Board.

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