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Site created 12/15/97.


review added: 7/21/99
updated: 5/22/01




Full Metal Jacket

review by Todd Doogan, special to The Digital Bits

The Films of Stanley Kubrick on DVD


Full Metal Jacket  (new Kubrick Collection)


Full Metal Jacket
1987 (2001) - Warner Bros.

Film Rating: A-

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A+/A+/C-

Specs and Features

116 mins, R, full frame (1.33:1), single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch at 1:19:43, at start of chapter 29), snapper case packaging, theatrical trailer, film-themed menu screens with music, scene access (39 chapters), languages: English and French (DD 5.1), subtitles: English, French, Spanish and Portuguese, Close Captioned



Full Metal Jacket (Kubrick Collection)


Full Metal Jacket
1987 (1999) - Warner Bros.

Film Rating: A-

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B-/B/C-

Specs and Features

116 mins, R, full frame (1.33:1), single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch at 1:19:41, at start of chapter 29), Snapper case packaging, theatrical trailer, film-themed menu screens with music, scene access (39 chapters), languages: English and French (DD mono), subtitles: English and French, Closed Captioned


Ahhh... Full Metal Jacket. For me, out of all the Kubrick films made, FMJ is the most watchable. I wonder why that is? The film is watchable, and yet stays true to being a Kubrick film. Here I am, a guy who basically missed the American experience in Vietnam, and yet the film really evokes in me that feeling of dread at being caught in a worthless endeavor. I'm too young to really remember the whole Vietnam thing. But if you really look at this film, it's not REALLY about Vietnam, is it? It's about the futility of doing ANYTHING that isn't believed in. It's about what happens when something is pushed too far. It's about the act of dying.

Full Metal Jacket is a savage, and sometimes funny, look at where we all stand on that line of life and death. It follows a group of young marines, from their first day of boot camp, all the way through and into their experiences of war. The main object of our attention is Joker, played by Matthew Modine. He's fine as "our eyes" through the whole thing, but the breakout performances here are Vincent D'Onofrio, as the slightly handicapped Gomer, and Lee Ermey, as their Drill Instructor. These two explode off the screen, and the world of movies is better for it. Sadly, Ermey has sort of faded into playing caricatures of this role. D'Onofrio has actually made more of a name for himself, especially after his incredible turn in a landmark episode of Homicide: Life on the Street, when he played a man trapped under a subway train. That was tough to watch. Never mind his appearances in The Newton Boys and Men in Black - good roles for sure, but he is really capable of much more than that (see The Whole Wide World, and then come back and talk to me).

When you look at FMJ, you see three separate vignettes: boot camp, the cease-fire invasion, and the sniping in Hue City. All three stand as tightly wound segments, but together they have an even greater impact. Like a grenade spiked with shrapnel, either way... you're definitely gonna get it. I wouldn't say that FMJ is the greatest war film ever made, but it sure is one of the greatest reasons why I wouldn't volunteer anytime soon.

So it's fitting that, as great as this movie is, it gets A+ treatment on DVD. Originally released as part of Warner's first Stanley Kubrick Collection, the disc was merely okay. But the colors are bright in this newly remastered edition - part of Warner's new Kubrick Collection. The dark tones are solid and the image is artifact-free. I really couldn't believe how much better this version looked over the previous edition. That disc was okay for the most part, but couldn't shake an overly artifacty image throughout the film. And yes, this new disc is also presented in full frame - regardless of what you read anywhere else (or what you think yourself), this is the whole picture as Kubrick intended it to be seen at home. End of discussion.

Also remastered is the sound, which went from a unimpressive straight mono, that didn't pack the punch it should, to a glorious Dolby Digital 5.1 track. Right from the opening, the new audio seems to set you down in a different film. It really sounds great now. I'm almost at a loss for words. I have to thank Warner for fixing the problems we all had with the previous disc. Kubrick deserved better, and they gave it to him.

The only extra on both versions of this DVD is the trailer. I still would have liked to have seen Vivian Kubrick's behind-the-scenes footage (which she shot on set a la The Shining), but I doubt we ever will. I just loved what she gave us before, and would have to think there's some magic in this unseen footage as well.

Full Metal Jacket is a pretty remarkable film. And it now looks and sounds remarkable on DVD. You guys have to see these discs. The previous set made me sick, but this new set makes me feel rejuvenated about DVD. And it's the fans that forced this out, don't forget that. We complained to high heaven about the other box set, and Warner listened to us and spent the money to remaster and restore these films. And it shows. Man, does it show. But don't take my word on it; see for yourself when they hit store shelves.

Todd Doogan
todddoogan@thedigitalbits.com

The Films of Stanley Kubrick on DVD

Full Metal Jacket (new version)


The Stanley Kubrick Collection (new version)


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