Stone is a cinematic maximalist, for better or worse. Platoon's influence on war films is unmistakeable, but it lacks the poetic psychological depth of Malick's 'The Thin Red Line' or the haunting grace of Kubrick's 'Paths of Glory'. Iconic and distinctive (like many Stone films) but also a film in caps lock.
A solid, competent war movie, nothing more, nothing less. There's nothing wrong with it, per se, but there are just so many "war is hell" movies that you really need something special or distinct to stand out and this one had nothing, nothing I haven't seen many times before. This gets an unremarkable C.
I'm actually a little unsure about how I feel about this movie. Obviously it has great battle scenes but in my mind the relationship between Taylor, Elias and Barnes wasn't what it could've been... Other than that the usual moral dilemma's that come with war were portrayed nicely. Personally I like the more conceptual war movies though like Apocalypse Now and The Thin Red Line.
Good story, beautifully told. What a fucking lame title, though! How about these: THEY THOUGHT THEY'D MAKE IT, BUT THEY DIDN'T; APOCALYPSE NOW... AGAIN, BOOBY TRAP MASSACRE, RAMBO ORIGINS, AMBUSH ELEGY: REQUIEM FOR A DEAD SOLDIER, or, my favorite: JUNGLE WAR: THE MOVIE.
Beyond the personal nostalgia and requirements of basic storytelling, Platoon is a film about the impression of light. From the blue wash of the morning manoeuvres, to the flares (used to light the jungle during the final act), the progression, from naturalism to the abstract, suggests the madness of war as a literal descent. Stone's ambition to convey emotion and psychology through experimentation begins here.
After reading other first hand accounts like The things they carried by Tim O'Brien, I come to realize how honest the movie actually is to the war. unlike what some people said I find the movie to be great precisely because it captures the fear, superstition, and tyranny on the battlefield. The story almost feels like a book in how it registers but it's certainly not being naive or unrealistic, but true to this war.
Surely war is too complicated for a movie to be able to reduce its players to stereotypes of bleeding hearts vs. the heartless and leaders as dangerously incompetent, but the truth is I've never been to war, and in movie terms this is the closest I've come to believing it. I'm sure Olly probably knew a thing or two about what he was saying, I mean for God's sake he was in the infantry.
The plot is essentially cliffnotes of all the terrible things that went on during Vietnam, coupled with hilarious 1 dimensional caricatures of the 'good' soldiers who smoked weed and waxed philosophical and 'bad' soldiers who were drunk racists who loved war. War is far too complicated to be reduced to a 1 note tune that's just at propagandic as many terrible war films made during WWII.