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Blu-ray Reviews

Platoon Blu-ray



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#1 of 16 OFFLINE   Cameron Yee

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Posted May 19 2011 - 06:14 PM


Platoon
Release Date: Available now
Studio: MGM Home Entertainment
Packaging/Materials: Two-disc Blu-ray "ECO-BOX" with slipcover
Year: 1986
Rating: R
Running Time: 1:59:49
MSRP: $29.99
 

  THE FEATURE SPECIAL FEATURES
Video 1080p high definition 1.75:1 Standard and high definition
Audio DTS-HD Master Audio: English 5.1 / Dolby Digital: English 4.0, Spanish 5.1, Portuguese 5.1, Czech 2.0, Magyar 2.0,  / DTS: French 5.1, German 5.1, Italian 5.1, Russian 5.1, Castellano 5.1 Stereo
Subtitles Feature: English SDH, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Danish, Finnish, German, Italian, Dutch, Norwegian, Russian, Castellano, Swedish, Czech, Greek, Chinese, Magyar, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Hindi, Turkish

Commentary: French, German, Italian
Variable

Note: This review contains material from my review of the 20th Anniversary Collector's Edition DVD.


The Feature: 5/5

War is hell. Few people need convincing otherwise. In the Vietnam War film "Platoon" Director Oliver Stone elaborates on that common knowledge with an additional statement: "Hell is the impossibility of reason." And for the film's two-hour run time we see the extent of that impossibility, from the revelation that main character Chris Taylor (Charlie Sheen) volunteered for infantry on sheer principle, to the escalating acts of immorality in a village suspected of helping the enemy. By the film's end a singular act completes Taylor's loss of innocence, an act that on the surface seems just, but is as lacking in reason as the incident that spawned it. Ultimately he and the others who fought with him are left with the lifelong task of living with their experiences, trying to make sense of them. Stone, himself a Vietnam War veteran, offers no answers, offering only the wish that one's experiences can be used to help others. In this respect he sets a fine example in making "Platoon," an unmistakably personal film that never feels judgmental, honors the sacrifices made by so many, yet makes a clear statement about the senselessness of it all. For the ability of balancing these three elements alone, "Platoon" is required viewing.


Video Quality: 4/5

The film is accurately framed at 1.85:1 and presented in 1080p with the AVC codec. The image has some inconsistencies to it, primarily in black levels and contrast, which can noticeably weaken during night scenes. However they can also look quite good in the same moments, suggesting those inconsistencies come from the source elements, not the transfer. Grain can get heavy as a result, though fortunately there have be no attempts to minimize it with noise reduction measures. Detail is decent, though wide shots lack a certain amount of definition; the format's higher resolution mostly becoming apparent in close ups. The picture tends to look the most stable and pleasing during daylight scenes, with colors that are muted but deep and contrast exhibiting the full range of values. The film also appears to have gone through at least a digital clean up, as the the occasional specs of dirt and damage that were visible on the DVD transfer are now gone.


Audio Quality: 3.5/5
Dialogue in the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix is generally clear and intelligible, though can sound a little muddled given the chaotic subject matter. Surrounds provide balanced and seamless environmental and directional effects, though certain scenes with droning insect noises could have been dialed back some. LFE is non-existent, and bass activity is a little weak considering the frequent number of explosions, but I can only assume that's due to the vintage of the mix rather than the track itself.


Special Features: 4/5

The extras carry over most of the items from the 2006 Collector's Edition, though the omissions are fairly significant. The first is "A Tour of the Inferno," the hour-long documentary from 2001 that chronicles the making of the film. The other is the image gallery that had over 30 stills. Considering their absence, owners of the Collector's Edition will want to hang on to that version for the most complete set of extras.


Audio commentary by Director Oliver Stone features the director sharing his actual experiences in relation to the events in the film. Though interesting, it often leads to him simply describing what is on screen.

Audio commentary by Military Advisor Dale Dye is the more interesting of the two commentaries, providing more stories from production along with his personal experiences from the war. At times he also lapses into scene descriptions, but it doesn’t take long for him to return to interesting details about the film.

Deleted and Extended Scenes (11:31, SD) are primarily character building moments that won’t be missed, though one gives more context to Taylor’s closing reference to Rah’s “battle over your soul” comment. The most interesting is the alternate ending which, in his commentary, Stone says is what he should have used in the film instead. The additional parts of the commentary, recorded in 2006, relate information about the real people behind characters like King and Rah. Enhanced for 16:9 televisions.

Flashback to Platoon (48:38, SD) is a well-made and informative documentary from 2006. Users can play the piece in its entirety or jump into the following chapters:

  • Snapshot in Time: 1967-1968 (19:15) provides historical background and analysis of the Vietnam War, in particular the year leading up to the Tet Offensive and the repercussions of that military victory on the political aspect of the war.
  • Creating the ‘Nam (12:04) provides history of the production, from development to filming on location, and the challenges faced throughout. Includes interviews with Charlie Sheen, Editor Claire Simpson, Production Designer Bruno Rubeo and Producer Arnold Kopelson.
  • Raw Wounds: The Legacy of Platoon (17:18) examines the affect the film had on Vietnam Veterans in particular and the American public in general. Includes interviews with combat veterans sharing their initial reactions to the film.


One War Many Stories (25:32, SD) features veterans relating their stories after a special screening of the film, with Oliver Stone sharing his own experiences in a separate interview. Dale Dye stated in the previous documentary there will never be a definitive history of the Vietnam War given the length of the conflict and the number of individuals who served. "One War Many Stories" illustrates this point as the group of veterans share common but sometimes disparate experiences. This is a straightforward, but deeply moving piece that gives viewers a chance to hear directly from those who were there.

"Preparing for ‘Nam” Documentary (6:36, SD) includes interviews with Vietnam War veterans talking about their military experiences.

Caputo and the 7th Fleet (1:38, SD) is a brief interview of author Philip Caputo, who wrote "A Rumor of War," sharing his experience evacuating from Saigon at the end of the war.

Dye Training Method (3:23, SD) features the military advisor describing the boot camp experience at Warriors, Inc.

Gordon Gekko (1:06, SD) is an anecdote from Editor Claire Simpson about how "Wall Street's" Gordon Gekko got his name.

Television Spots: Three 30-second commercials for the film.

Theatrical Trailer (1:44, HD)

DVD contains the feature presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic video and 448 kbps Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. There is also a Dolby Digital 2.0 Spanish language track and subtitle options of French and Spanish. The theatrical trailer is also included.
 

Recap

The Feature: 5/5
Video Quality: 4/5
Audio Quality: 3.5/5
Special Features: 4/5
Overall Score (not an average): 4.5/5


MGM Home Entertainment turns in a great presentation of Oliver Stone's deeply personal Vietnam War combat film. The special features package omits the hour-long making-of documentary from 2001, which is unfortunate considering this Blu-ray release could have easily been the definitive edition for the title. Nevertheless, the release's noticeably improved video and audio quality make it worthy of a purchase.



#2 of 16 OFFLINE   Robert Crawford

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Posted May 20 2011 - 04:35 AM

Thank you for your fine review as I eagerly await my copy. I had a feeling that some of the night scenes would be a problem, but I think it's more to do with the source material than anything else. Crawdaddy

#3 of 16 OFFLINE   ManW_TheUncool

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Posted May 20 2011 - 06:15 AM

Interesting.  I never got around to upgrading to the 2006 CE DVD, but I still have the original non-16x9 Live DVD (that people went nuts over on eBay when it originally went OOP) and the 2001 SE DVD.  Both of them have the Tour of the Inferno doc that's missing here though only my SE DVD has the missing stills gallery.  Not sure I really care about the missing stills that much since they're just in SD quality anyway.  Maybe I can just keep that original non-16x9 DVD (both for the doc and as a conversation piece ) and sell off the SE DVD (and/or maybe the barebones DVD that's included in the combo pack). Sounds like a good release other than the missing doc -- maybe they just figured people who'd care would already own some version w/ the doc (like 2 in my case) and have no desire to give them the ability to sell off all their DVD copies on top of the barebones one included here. BTW, is the included barebones DVD from the circa 2001 barebones release (that came out around the same time as the 2001 SE) or a new remastered version?  Is it dual layer?  Guess it doesn't really matter to me since I'd probably only want to keep one of my old versions w/ the doc included. Anyway, thanks for the fine review, Cameron. _Man_

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#4 of 16 OFFLINE   Cameron Yee

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Posted May 20 2011 - 08:18 AM

The transfer looks the same as the previous DVD edition with the gate weave in the titles and dust and sparkle, so I'm guessing it's the 2001 DVD. The disc is also dual layer.

BTW, is the included barebones DVD from the circa 2001 barebones release (that came out around the same time as the 2001 SE) or a new remastered version?  Is it dual layer?  Guess it doesn't really matter to me since I'd probably only want to keep one of my old versions w/ the doc included.




#5 of 16 OFFLINE   Cinescott

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Posted May 23 2011 - 07:11 AM

I'll be getting this one from Amazon tomorrow. Since I do have the "Inferno" documentary on DVD, I'll probably just swap that disc for the DVD that will be in the case and call it complete. Platoon will be very nice to have on Blu-ray. I too remember the day when this was an OOP DVD (which I still have). It's a pretty gripping, well-acted movie that seems to get overlooked a lot these days. A great script and some very convincing acting creates a lot of replay value for me. Oliver Stone put a lot on the screen for the "smallish" budget he had to work with.

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#6 of 16 OFFLINE   Charles Smith

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Posted May 23 2011 - 09:24 AM

How ridiculous, dropping that documentary!  Why do studios keep doing this??  And I've already gotten rid of the DVD.  (But I think it's on my Pioneer Special Edition LD set which is one of those absolute keepers.)



#7 of 16 OFFLINE   GMpasqua

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Posted May 23 2011 - 03:47 PM



Quote:
Originally Posted by Chas in CT 

How ridiculous, dropping that documentary!  Why do studios keep doing this??  And I've already gotten rid of the DVD.  (But I think it's on my Pioneer Special Edition LD set which is one of those absolute keepers.)



Usually it comes down to a rights issue. Some features on a DVD were made for the DVD only. The studio would have to strike a new contract and the producers aren't always co-operative. Studios have burned many people in the past and those in turn raise their demands. The studios figure it's easier, quicker or cheaper to release the film without the prior extras. Some Studios will create new extras to compensate. You're lucky if a film comes to blu-ray, most probably won't.






#8 of 16 OFFLINE   Pete T C

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Posted May 25 2011 - 02:09 PM

Does this Blu-ray have the color balance of the MGM DVDs or is it closer to the original Artisan nonanamorphic DVD?
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#9 of 16 OFFLINE   Geoff_D

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Posted May 25 2011 - 11:25 PM

The Blu-ray colour timing is very different to the R1 '20th Anniversary' DVD from 2006. Never seen the Artisan DVD though, so I don't know how the later releases compare to that one.


Here you can see the colour timing differences between the SE DVD and the HK Blu-ray (which uses the exact same master as the new UK/US Blu-ray).


http://www.caps-a-ho...on=1&lossless=0



#10 of 16 OFFLINE   ManW_TheUncool

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Posted May 26 2011 - 03:40 AM

Hmmm...  That comparison looks like it's for the old SE DVD (from circa 2001), not the 20th Anniversary DVD (unless it uses the same transfer I guess). The BD looks very different from that old SE DVD -- and clearly looks much more "right" to my eyes (although it's also possible that they might've toned down the contrast tone curve a tad more than ideal, which yields a flatter look).  I hadn't realized how off the SE DVD might be. Maybe I should do some eyeball comparison of my old Artisan and the SE DVD... not that it matters too much since the BD looks good to me and I'd only be keeping one of the old DVDs for the doc (although I'd prefer to keep the 16x9 one, if the colors are similar)... _Man_ PS: In case anyone's wondering, I'm only judging by the screencaps as I don't actually have the BD yet.

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#11 of 16 OFFLINE   Geoff_D

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Posted May 26 2011 - 08:04 AM

Sure. I didn't say that that the DVD caps were from the 20th Anni DVD. But I can tell you that the 20th Anni DVD looks very similar to the DVD caps in that comparison.

#12 of 16 OFFLINE   Cinescott

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Posted May 26 2011 - 08:56 AM

There has always been a noticeable lack of LFE on the soundtrack for Platoon, which is interesting since much of the sound is composed of gunfire and explosions. Seems to be the condition of the master material. I've often thought that adding it in would be a fairly easy thing to do, but oh well. It's a low budget movie that turned into an enormous hit, so I suppose it's a lot to ask.  

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#13 of 16 OFFLINE   David Wilkins

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Posted May 31 2011 - 06:49 PM

Having seen nothing but the original Live release back in the day, I absolutely love the BD. Based on that Live release, my expectations were admittedly low, but still...I am way pleased.

#14 of 16 OFFLINE   Cinescott

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Posted June 01 2011 - 02:02 AM



Originally Posted by David Wilkins 

Having seen nothing but the original Live release back in the day, I absolutely love the BD. Based on that Live release, my expectations were admittedly low, but still...I am way pleased.



There's absolutely no doubt that the blu-ray is way better than the original non-anamorphic DVD.


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#15 of 16 OFFLINE   David Wilkins

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Posted June 01 2011 - 03:05 AM

Guess I came across as stating the obvious. I'm not one of those "better than the DVD" people who seek nothing more. Having seen nothing but the Live edition (in the home environment), I'm even more impressed by the quality of the BD.


#16 of 16 OFFLINE   Cinescott

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Posted June 01 2011 - 04:07 AM

There is much to like in the new BD version of Platoon. If the "Tour of the Inferno" doc had been included, it would have been the definitive edition.

"There are two types of people in the world, my friend. Those with loaded guns and those who dig. You dig."






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