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Full Metal Jacket 4K UHD Review

“Full Metal Jacket” is one of Stanley Kubrick’s many masterpieces.

Based on the novel “The Short-Timers” by Gustav Hasford (who co-scripted the film alongside Stanley Kubrick and Michael Herr), “Full Metal Jacket” is a tale of 2 movies. The first part is dedicated to new recruits in boot camp who undergo rigorous training via a tough drill instructor (Hartman). The story primarily follows Joker (whose POV we essentially see throughout the film) and Private nicknamed Gomer Pyle who is pushed over the edge by his training. The second part finds Joker (now a Sgt. and war correspondent) and a photographer (Rafterman) in the heart of the Vietnam War. More specifically, with the Lusthog Squad during battles and an intense shootout with an enemy sniper. 

Director Stanley Kubrick was no stranger to war films having made one of the very best in the WWI tale “Paths Of Glory.” With “Full Metal Jacket,” he turns his attention to the Vietnam War but instead of focusing on the war itself, he focuses more on the psychological side. While the horrors of war is very much a component of this film, Kubrick seems more interested in exploring the transformation of a human man into a soldier while also exploring the damaging psychological impact that process can have (see Pyle’s mental breakdown in part 1). What’s really striking about this storytelling approach is how different it feels from other war films (especially Vietnam war films). Not only are we seeing a soldier’s mentality, but Kubrick takes on a different journey both in structure and content with ‘Jacket.’ The first half (which is just perfection as far as I’m concerned) is all about the boot camp life while the second half is a more flee flowing and chaotic look at life in the thick of the war. It just goes to show how unique and skilled of an artist Kubrick was to create something that wasn’t a mere knock-off like so many war films we see in the modern era.

Even though Kubrick is the true star as it were, there is a trio of stand-out performances here. First and foremost Vincent D’Onofrio gives arguably his best performance in a career filled with many great performances. His transformation from a fresh faced recruit to a broken man is so haunting that it will stick with you, well, forever. Likewise, R. Lee Ermey gives an iconic and career defining performance as the loud mouth cursing drill sergeant Hartman (who also worked on the film as a technical advisor being as a drill sergeant in Vietnam himself). Lastly, Matthew Modine doesn’t get the appreciation he deserves as an actor (especially in this film). He gives a very naturalistic performance that resonates. 


Presentation: 1.78:1 2160p. How does it look? The 4K transfer maintains the grain while also delivering impressive picture quality. This is especially evident during the exterior scenes in the second half of the film.

Audio Track: 5.1 DTS-HD MA. How does it sound? Expect a nice layered 5.1 track.
* Blu-ray copy
* Digital copy
* Commentary by Adam Baldwin, Lee Ermey, writer Jay Cocks and Vincent D’Onofrio. The commentators are not in the same room and the track switches between them. Discussions range from Kubrick to the authenticity.
* “Full Metal Jacket” theatrical trailer
* “Full Metal Jacket: Between Good and Evil”- An insightful half-hour documentary that covers Kubrick, the film’s themes, behind-the-scenes stories, the production, etc.

September 20, 2020 - Posted by | 4K UHD Review | , , , ,

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