Platoon (1986) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from John of 501 Must See Movies Project . He also reviewed Amadeus HERE. Thanks for the reviews, John! 🙂 Now let’s hear his thoughts on Platoon, IMDB rank 144 out of 250…

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE. I’ve stopped receiving so many guest reviews now so if you send yours soon, it should post soon. I only have enough for the next month.

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The first casualty of war is innocence.

Charlie Taylor (Charlie Sheen) is a green, fresh to arrive recruit in Vietnam.  Platoon follows Taylor and his company as they cope with the hardships of war, and the film brings back the reality of what went on over there to the big screen for the first time since Apocalypse Now (1979).

The unit breaks into two contrasting camps: one with Sgt. Barnes (Tom Berenger), who believes in total war and winning at any cost, and Sgt. Elias (Willem Dafoe), who is battle-tested but gracious in contrast to Barnes.  Each side as plenty of support, and they battle,  as Taylor puts it, “for possession of my soul.”

Platoon features a whole slew of familiar faces (Charlie Sheen, Tom Berenger, Willem Dafoe, Keith David, Johnny Depp, Forest Whitaker, John C. McGinley, Tony Todd, Mark Moses), many of which were at the beginning of their careers.

A couple of things added to the authenticity of this film.  Oliver Stone’s experience in Vietnam, woven throughout the characters Taylor encounters, and the preparation the actors went through in making this film.  They trained for two weeks before filming began, building camaraderie as a unit, digging foxholes, encountering “night attacks” to get used to the special effects that would be used.  The familiarity these actors had with their weapons made the actions and emotion seem genuine.

The acting in this film is top-notch.  The characters evoke strong emotions in the audience: you either really like or really hate what a person says or does.  I found myself completely disgusted with some of the men in the Barnes camp as they abused and mistreated both Vietnamese peasants and their fellow soldiers.  An interesting commentary on this came from Taylor as he was airlifted out at the end of the film.  He describes that the Vietnamese weren’t the enemy, instead we were our own enemy.  There is a lot of killing, granted, but more of it being American killing American than one would expect.

I believe I’ve said it before, but Willem Dafoe is probably one of my favorite actors.  This film is one of the reasons for that opinion.  He is a strong, committed character whose performance I felt stood above all the others. I also found it interesting that he never wear a helmet.  Ever.  Tom Berenger, though I don’t agree with his characters outlook and way of carrying himself, brings that type of soldier to life and it fully committed to his character.

Charlie Sheen does very well in this movie as well.  The contrast and how quickly his idealized or unaware outlook at the beginning of the film is quickly shredded and almost gone by the end of the film.  He quickly loses the label of ‘new meat’ and becomes one of the guys.  His judgement and discernment remain, though, which is refreshing and relieving.

It’s interesting seeing John C. McGinley in a role like this after watching him at Dr. Cox on Scrubs, but hey that might just be me.

Platoon is considered one of the best films of the 1980s, it won the Best Picture Oscar in 1987.  It’s authenticity and superb acting both contribute largely to its success.  It’s one I enjoyed, and I’d definitely recommend seeing.

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars.

 

Inception (2010) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Drew of Drew’s Movie Reviews. Thanks for joining in, Drew! Now let’s see what he has to say about Inception, IMDB rank 14 out of 250…

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE.

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Inception Review
Watched: 2/28/2014

Synopsis
Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) are “extractors,” a type of thief who enters a target’s dream to steal information. Japanese businessman Saito (Ken Watanabe) hires them and their team to plant an idea inside someones head, or “inception,” a task many consider to be impossible. The target is Robert Fischer (Cillian Murphy), son of Saito’s dying competitor. Arthur tries to refuse the job but Saito offers Cobb an offer he can’t refuse: the opportunity to return home to his family.

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Review
It can be hard to find a truly original movie nowadays among the sea of remakes and reboots. Inception breaks away from the crowd and offers one of the most original stories told today. Top it off with a great cast of actors and an amazing director and the result was bound to be something spectacular.

Sometimes movies try to explain their world before getting into the story. But Inception doesn’t do that. Rather than use the beginning to set up the technology used to enter one’s subconscious, it is used to introduce the concept of dreams within dreams and simply give an idea of what it the technology can do. Later we get the explanation through Ariadne (Ellen Page), the bridge between the movie and the audience. So rather than bore us with the details early on, the movie accepts that entering dream space is already an established technology.

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Although there is a large ensemble, each character gets their fair share of screen time. Leonardo DiCaprio and Joseph Gordon-Levitt are the main focus, but they handle the attention well and give amazing performances. I haven’t seen Cillian Murphy much except for this and the Dark Knight trilogy, but between the two he definitely shows what he is capable of. I’d have to say my favorite performances is Tom Hardy as Eames. He brings a charisma that fits his character perfectly.

Cobb has become one favorite movie characters. He is very complex and it’s easy to forget that he is a thief. He is an antihero but is one because of the circumstances and only wants to get back to his family. Most antiheroes say they have good intentions and only become so out of necessity but secretly enjoy being a thief/killer/whatever kind of antihero they are. But Cobb is truly doing was is necessary simply to return to his family.

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I have mentioned in several of my other reviews how important the score can be to a movie. Like most other aspects of Inception, the sound work and music complement what is happening on screen perfectly. The movie can get loud to accentuate the action going on, but it also gets very quite, making these moments more intimate. Hans Zimmer is my second favorite composer (behind the wonderful John Williams) and for a good example of why he is amazing just look at this movie. His score is memorable and gives a certain gravitas to the events unfolding on screen.

There were some pretty cool visuals, too. Working inside a dream allowed the action to be limited only by the imagination. One of the coolest was an early scene when Ariadne was learning about molding dreams. She is walking around Paris and made the city fold on itself, among creating other things. There is also a fight scene in zero gravity in a hotel hallway. And these are just a few! The visual department outdid themselves.

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Inception is one of the most original movies that has come out in a long time. Rather than waste the first scene setting up the technology, it uses it to set up the concept of multi-leveled dreams that is an integral part of the plot. The dream scape setting allows for some pretty awesome action sequences, such as a folding city and a zero gravity fight… inside a hallway. Cobb is an fascinating character that is surprising complex for a thief. Despite the large ensemble cast, each character gets some good moments to shine. I think part of the appeal of Inception is the heist itself and the originality of the whole thing. Really, if you haven’t seen Inception, what are you waiting for?

Rating
5/5

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Christopher Nolan – Director/Writer
Hans Zimmer – Composer

Leonardo DiCaprio – Cobb
Joseph Gordon-Levitt – Arthur
Ellen Page – Ariadne
Tom Hardy – Eames
Ken Watanabe – Saito
Dileep Rao – Yusuf
Cillian Murphy – Robert Fischer
Marion Cotillard – Mal
Tom Berenger – Browning
Pete Postlethwaite – Maurice Fischer
Michael Caine – Miles
Lukas Haas – Nash