While Oliver Stone's latter films tended to be awful(Natural Born Killers), or just disappointing(WORLD TRADE CENTER), he did write and direct a masterpiece, "PLATOON," still just as riveting 25 years after its original release. MGM/FOX has released "PLATOON" on blu-ray, and it's easy to recommend this as a must-have for anyone who has possibly not seen it or for those wishing to build a blu-ray library of "masterpieces."
This reviewer must admit to not being a fan of Charlie Sheen. While his portrayal of "BUD FOX" in "WALL STREET" was good, it wasn't anything close to a "Oscar nomination" performance. Then again, while "WALL STREET" is a great film, it was severely flawed due to a horrible miscasting of Daryl Hannah. "PLATOON" is a great film due to Stone's best direction and writing of his entire career, and the ensemble cast! Sure, Willem Defoe and Tom Berenger are sensational as the two commanding officers, serving as sort of father figures to the young soldier, "Chris," as portrayed by Sheen. But, Sheen, and everyone else in this film give dead-on, completely immersive character portrayals. A very young Johnny Depp is even here!
Stone wrote this script, inspired and drawn upon from his own experiences as a volunteer soldier in the Viet-Nam war, and the prose marks his most sober, reflective, and passionate sensibilities yet. It's arguably the best Viet-Nam war film ever made, and one could make the case for it being the best "War" film as well. While "SAVING PRIVATE RYAN" still offers the best and most realistic opening sequence dealing with the horrors of war, "PLATOON," never suffers from a lagging part or horrible mistcasting(Vin Diesel) as "SPR" did.
As masterful as Stone proves to be with his choice of composition, music, narrative and so much more, his level of restraint, is also in rare form here! There is real subtext offered in "PLATOON," and it never shows the heavy hammer approach so poorly resorted to in his otherwise fine films to follow(Born on the 4th of July). There are scenes so visually stunning and brilliantly played out and edited,( the final scene between Elias and Barnes is like something from Melville!) that it's hard to imagine any viewer seeing it for the 1st or 10th time, and being anything other than blown away by the film's power.
Having seen the film countless times in theaters, on laserdisc and previous dvd releases, the blu-ray release came with high expectations. MGM/FOX has provided the correct 1.85:1 aspect ratio for this AVC MPEG-4 encoded 1080p blu-ray. Colors are never that vibrant, but Stone's color palette was intentionally subdued, and the varying degree of color popping up on occasion, appears to be a faithful presentation on par with the theatrical release. Detail varies in quality, but is generally very impressive. In fact, the high resolution quality image renders some detail, particularly obvious effect limitations with make-up, too blatantly obvious, over previous releases on dvd and laserdisc. Still, overall, what's presented is a fine image, with noticeable improvement over all other video presentations, including satellite/cable presentations. Blacks are deep, however, when detail is swallowed by shadow in darker fight scenes, it's not due to contrast problems, but rather the original source material and likely intention of the director. Having seen the film over a dozen times in its initial release, that disparity of depth was burned into this reviewer's mind.
MGM/FOX has provided a DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix as well as the original 4.0 mix. Unfortunately, all of the previous mixes on laserdisc, dvd and satellite, were disappointing, and so goes it with this lossy mix. While it's by no means, a "bad" mix, the superior level of dynamic range and immersive environment is just never fully realized. Sure, there are some moments, typically built around minor ambient effects, when the lossy mix feels natural and semi-immersive. But, even when a scene cries out for dramatic emphasis with music being forcefully resonant, the mix never feels opened up to its full potential! AARGH!
This reviewer recalls the similar disappointment when first playing the Dolby Digital mix of the dvd presentation, and while it's never addressed in the audio commentary, limitations of fidelity in each sound mix, is likely due to budget limitations with regards to the original source material.
MGM/FOX deserves credit for offering extras carried over from previous "Collector's Editions," and every single one of them is more than worthwhile and highly recommended to be viewed/listened to!
In addition to two great commentaries, one with Stone, the other with military technical advisor, Dale Dye, there are fantastic documentaries, featurettes and deleted scenes. While all are only available in standard resolution, none of them are fluff pieces!
Additionally, the theatrical trailer is offered in full 1080p, and a dvd format is included!