Full Metal Jacket 25th Anniversary Blu-Ray (1987)

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In Vietnam The Wind Doesn’t Blow It Sucks.

When Warners’ announced the release of a new 25th anniversary blu-ray of Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket, I was elated. It is for whatever reasons one of my favorite films. Expectations were high, to say the least.

Films depicting or set in the Vietnam era usually are not my cup of tea, with a few notable exclusions. The Deer Hunter and Apocalypse Now being the two most notables here. Full Metal Jacket falls here too, though perhaps more by the nature of the setting than the film itself. It just as easily could be Germany in 1944 or France in 1916. The North (and South, for that matter) Vietnamese in the second act are only cardboard facsimiles of characters.

Full Metal Jacket has always struck me as two separate films somewhat oddly held together with nothing more than some scotch tape. The first part, set during boot camp, is dynamic, fluid, and powerful. It is perhaps one of the most engaging pieces of film ever. But it ends with the death of the two most engaging characters.

After that the second half, set in Vietnam itself, becomes a series of vaguely interconnected set pieces without any real import. It is well shot, but we no longer really care about the characters and the drawn out finale of the squad against the sniper becomes pedantic and methodical. There is definitely an implied deeper message in there, but the personal engagement with the audience Kubrick needs to pull it together simply isn’t there. The second half is a typical war film. Better than most, but still lacking the power it could have had.

Still well done, but also still pedantic and methodical. Yet I still love the film.

So, is the 25th Anniversary Edition worth it? Well, that all depends. If you don’t have the previous blu-ray edition, adding it is a complete no-brainer.  It is a must have. If you do have the earlier release, things get a bit more complicated.

The feature itself is not a new transfer, even given the somewhat misleading language on the packaging. It is the same as used in the previous blu-ray release. Sound and video are both strong, though somewhat soft purely due to Kubrick’s style. No worries in either area, to say the least.

The additional materials I’d hoped for are sadly a bit lacking. All the previous material from the earlier release has been ported over, but there is a dearth of new material. New material consists of the digi-pack booklet itself and an English documentary entitled “Stanley Kubrick’s Boxes,” which gives you a tour of the somewhat reclusive director’s estate.

The booklet is stronger than many from similar releases so kudos there. The documentary also in interesting, showing literally the numerous boxes containing Kubrick’s notes, correspondence, etc. which is surely a treasure trove of information. Even though it only deals with Full Metal Jacket indirectly it is still interesting.

Sadly, as much as I love the picture the additional supplemental materials aren’t enough to justify an upgrade if you already have the earlier blu-ray release- which you should. If you don’t have it, this is a required purchase.

Thanks for Warner Brothers for the review copy as well!

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