[box cover]

Tigerland

It would be easy to dismiss Tigerland solely based on its director — the execrable Joel "I gave the Batsuit nipples" Schumacher — and after watching it, it's hard not to. The workmanlike Schumacher has tried all kinds of cinematic approaches (literary — well, John Grisham — adaptations with the 1994 The Client and 1996's A Time to Kill, respectively, 1999's dark 8mm, and that year's more personal Flawless), yet the same complaints lodged at him for ruining the Batman series return here: The actors are good, but everything looks like a photo layout for Details magazine, and with about as much depth. In Tigerland, Schumacher tried to strip himself of his high budgets by shooting it in 28 days on 16mm with a no-name cast. But stylistic conceits don't affect content, and though the film has a good first 20 minutes before the plot kicks into gear, once those plot machinations hit, the same problems arise — the film looks pretty, but it's got a hokey storyline fettered by impersonal directing. However, Schumacher didn't write the script, so screenwriters Ross Klavan and Michael McGruther must also bear responsibility, as Tigerland is yet another Vietnam coming-of-age film told through a writer's perspective, focusing on the fast friendship between troublemaker Private Roland Bozz (Colin Farell) and the would-be writer Private Jim Paxton (Mathew Davis). Bozz is our existential anti-hero; he helps as many men get out of combat that he can, but he has yet to find a way out for himself. The film focuses on Bozz's and Paxton's squad's training, ending with the nightmarish Tigerland boot camp, but the humiliations and routines of Army training have been done so many times before (Stripes, Full Metal Jacket, and Starship Troopers among them) that the genre requires (in fact, demands) some sort of novel angle. Here we're stuck with such broadly painted and clichéd characters that by the end it's more annoying than moving. The Oscar-winning Platoon had some of these faults as well, but it came across as authentic because Oliver Stone actually went to Vietnam and had something to say about it; Schumacher didn't go, and — as with most of his films — he also has nothing to say. If anyone comes out of Tigerland honorably, it is the Irish actor Farrell. Saddled with a role modeled on James Dean-ish anti-hero cool, Farrell pulls it off (no mean feat) and almost makes the film worth watching. Fox's Tigerland DVD is presented in (intentionally) grainy anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1), with audio in Dolby Digital 5.1. The major extra is a feature-length commentary by Schumacher, who is a good host but still says little of interest. Featurette, four casting sessions with Farrell, trailer, TV spots, Tora! Tora! Tora! trailer. Keep-case.
—DSH



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