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Platoon: Special Edition

Platoon (1986) is valuable when considered within its cultural context as a breakthrough in the cinematic dialogue about Vietnam than as the sometimes dull, sometimes overindulgent, occasionally powerful film that it is. Charlie Sheen stars and narrates as Chris Taylor, a privileged white kid (and Stone alter ego) who enlisted because he felt that the draft was unfairly targeting poor minorities. The film follows Taylor's tour of duty in a platoon led by the heavily scarred and vicious Lt. Barnes (Tom Berenger) and the stoic and principled Lt. Elias (Willem Dafoe). They stalk through jungles, encounter ambushes and firefights, infiltrate underground bunkers, commit atrocities and rescue civilians from further atrocities, witness great carnage, and basically lose their minds. This is pretty intense stuff, and Stone's approach is mostly sincere, but also labored by the director's heavy-handed attempts at playing it both straight and philsophical at the same time. MGM's second release of Platoon on DVD combines the newish anamorphic transfer (1.85:1) from their bare-bones 2000 edition, along with the same 5.1 Dolby Digital remix. Also here are the supplemental materials from Artisan's out-of-print 1997 release — Stone provides one low-key, barely provocative commentary, while on another audio track "military technical advisor" Dale Dye gives a more energetic but equally uninformative recount. Much better is the documentary Tour of the Inferno: Revisiting Platoon, an excellent behind-the-scenes account of the film's production, originally on the Artisan disc and now back in circulation. Still galleries, trailers, TV spots. Keep-case.
—Gregory P. Dorr

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