Stanley Kubrick’s take on the Vietnam War follows smart-aleck Private Davis, quickly christened “Joker” by his foul-mouthed drill sergeant, and pudgy Private Lawrence, nicknamed “Gomer Pyle,” as they endure the rigors of basic training. Though Pyle takes a frightening detour, Joker graduates to the Marine Corps and is sent to Vietnam as a journalist, covering — and eventually participating in — the bloody Battle of Hué.
Plot: A pragmatic U.S. Marine observes the dehumanizing effects the Vietnam War has on his fellow recruits from their brutal boot camp training to the bloody street fighting in Hue.
Director: Sanley Kubrick
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Runtime: 116 min
Rotten Tomatoes Consensus: Intense, tightly constructed, and darkly comic at times, Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket may not boast the most original of themes, but it is exceedingly effective at communicating them.
“One of the best war films ever made set to shine bright on UHD.”
Full Metal Jacket was originally shot in 35 mm and finished at a 4k digital intermediate — yes, that means you’ll get a a native 4k presentation on this disc. On top of that, as per the norm with UHD releases, it was also given a HDR color grade for your viewing pleasure in HDR10. Warner Brother’s have been doing a great job with Kubrick’s work recently with respect to both The Shining‘s and 2001: A Space Odyssey — so be rest assured that this film was given the same amount of care. This is a significant upgrade over the Blu-ray, so go and grab yourself a copy right after you finish reading this review (winky face).
This film (which I assume you’ve seen) is a tale of two halves — essentially two films in one. The first half shows bootcamp in action, while the second takes you right into battle. When it comes to the first part, the beginning scenes look amazing due to the different levels of lighting and newly stable and consistent sharp image. For example, both the florescent lighting in the barracks and the natural lighting of the outdoor environment brings a new level of depth and overall texture to every scene. (Call me bias, but I think it’s pretty bad ass and much needed for such a classic film.)
While you’ll see a noticeable bump in image quality and sharpness, the film really takes shape with the use of HDR — creating a whole new palette I’ve never seen before from this film. Scenes like the blue-hue of the nighttime skies shining through the windows of the barracks, the gritty browns and greens of the training course, various scenes in and around Da Nang, red napalm on the horizon, debris, rubble.. the works — they all shine on the UHD format. Lastly, the final scenes are a showcase on their own with the red hues from the burning buildings giving off a new depth and dimension. (Beyond any of that, know that HDR naturally gives this disc better flesh tones and deeper black levels too.) Keep it simple and to the point? Full Metal Jacket on UHD is a solid end to end release in tandem with everything listed above — there’s nothing negative to report. (No apparent banding or noise reduction either.)
Side note: Full Metal Jacket is presented in 1.78:1, which is fixed from it’s original 1.33:1 presentation from previous releases. Why? The late director had preferred policy of no black bars, so they stayed true to his vision. I agree — fill up as much of the screen as you can!
In conclusion —
Warner Brothers has done some top-notch work with Stanley Kubrick’s other films — 2001: A Space Odyssey and The Shining — not only are they amazing films, but some high quality UHD releases as well. If I had to rate this against those two I would definitely say this comes third. It’s not that Warner Brothers did less of a job with the transfer, it’s just that the source material is different. It was shot and presented a certain way and that’s more than acceptable — you can only do so much. The one thing you can guarantee? It’s the best this film has ever looked!
Taking everything I’ve said into account, you can be sure that Full Metal Jacket gets my recommendation to own. (It’s a must buy for any fan of the movie or Stanley Kubrick in general.) Where would you rank this when it comes to other Vietnam War films? There’s a lot of great films on that list — you have Full Metal Jacket, Apocalypse Now, The Deer Hunter, Platoon, Born on the 4th of July & Good Morning Vietnam to name a few. I don’t know what sits atop of that list — I change my mind every time I watch any of them. No matter what you decide to do, or where this movie falls in your ranks, you can grab a copy at your local retailer on 4K & Blu-ray on September 22nd.
Are you a fan of Full Metal Jacket? Will you be picking it up to own? Let me know what you think in the comments below.
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