to the suck"
Signing up to join the US Marine Corp was a family tradition
for Anthony Swofford (Gyllenhaal) but he didn't really think that way. Through
basic training he excelled however, making it into the renowned Marine sniper
unit, the STA. When Iraq invades Kuwait, his unit is the first sent to the
Middle-East but as tension mounts and the troop build up continues, he and
his squad start to get a little bit bored and frustrated over the lack of
Oscar winning director Sam Mendes gives another outsider's
view of something that is quintessentially American, the United States Marine
Based on the autobiographical novel by Anthony Swofford, Mendes
and his cast and crew take you back to the first Gulf War in 1989 and reveal
what the troops had to endure during Operations Desert Shield and Storm.
Swofford's Marine STA sniper unit were one of the first waves of troop deployment
to the region but it would be over one hundred and fifty days before they
even saw any form of combat.
The film basically deals with the waiting of the ground troops
to see any kind of action during the conflict. As the Allied air forces
bombarded Saddam's army and Iraq's defences, the troop build up continued
and their mass grew from five thousand to five hundred thousand strong.
As this continued for over four months, the first troops shipped out to
Saudi Arabia had little to do except wait. Boredom set in as preparations,
drills and training became routine and complete lack of any activity drained
every last drop of enthusiasm from the waiting soldiers. When the war actually
came, they found they had little to do and were more in danger from friendly
fire than anything the Iraqis could throw at them.
Bringing this story to life are some exceptional performances
from a great ensemble. At the forefront is the performance of lead actor
Jake Gyllenhaal. The actor proves again that he is one of the best up and
coming performers of his generation. Never, ever giving a bad performance
in anything he plays, he is totally captivating as Anthony Swofford or 'Swoff'
as his squad knows him. Appearing in every single scene, the actor commands
you attention throughout and draws you into the story and the characters
situation. Also on his best form is the equally brilliant Peter Sarsgaard,
proving again that he is an actor at the top of his game. As Troy, Swoff's
best friend and spotter, he creates a character that is desperate to make
his mark on the war and make a difference for his country. Jamie Foxx continues
to impress as Staff Sgt. Sykes, the man in command of the Marine STAs and
a man totally committed to the core. Add to this good support from Lucas
Black and Brian Geraghty as well as some fine performances by Chris Cooper
and Dennis Haysbert in smaller commanding roles, you have an excellent ensemble.
'Jarhead' is a war movie without any war in it. This is about
the changes in modern combat and the glorification of serving your country
against the realism of actually been there. The film has a lot to say about
the first Gulf War and the other confrontations that have followed it, all
from a soldier's point of view. It also proves again that Sam Mendes is
one of the finest directors working in Hollywood today and every movie he
brings us is one to remember.
Presented in Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1 with Dolby Digital 5.1, the
movie is presented well.
Feature Commentary with director Sam Mendes
The Oscar winning director provides an interesting and informative commentary
track for 'Jarhead'. This clearly skilled and extremely intelligent filmmaker
is on top form as he talks passionately about his film. He reveals the
changes from the book to screen and the sense of importance he felt in
bringing the story to the silver screen. Single person commentary track
are not always the best but the skill and knowledge of Mendes makes this
a riveting listen for film aficionados.
Feature Commentary with screenwriter William Broyles Jr. and author
The writers and ex-servicemen offer a fascinating insight into the film
and what it was actually like serving during the Gulf War. The two of
them reminisce about their time in the armed forces and how this showed
in both the writing of the book and the screenplay. The pair are extremely
chatty making this a fun and informative commentary track.
Deleted Scenes (19.15 mins)
Eleven deleted or alternative scenes with optional commentary from director
Sam Mendes and editor Walter Murch, that show you an alternative opening
sequence, stomach flu, reservations about been a sniper, sniper training,
arriving in the Middle East, finding a white scorpion, meeting the locals,
going for a run, defining the marine, spying for information, waiting
for combat and more from the oil fields.
Swoff Fantasy scenes (6.20 mins)
Watch Jake Gyllenhaal's Swoff have fantasies about the Drill Sergeant,
a TV interview, cleaning the latrine and sniping with optional commentary
from director Sam Mendes and editor Walter Murch.
Full News Interviews (16.44 mins)
Watch the full, unedited version of the press interviews with the platoon
as they get asked about the war, the Kuwaiti people, been in Iraq, what
they miss most about home, why they joined the marines, people back home
and if they are scared. With optional commentary from director Sam Mendes
and editor Walter Murch
Jarhead Diaries (Collector's Edition Exclusive) (30.53 mins)
Director Sam Mendes introduces a special featurette that features the
actors themselves having their own camera to record diaries during the
making of 'Jarhead'. With contributions from executive producer Sam Mercer,
producers Lucy Fisher and Douglas Wick, technical advisor Major James
Dever and stars Jake Gyllanhaal, Jamie Foxx, Peter Sarsgaard, Lucas Black,
Evan Jones, Jacob Vargas, Brian Geraghty, Jamie Martz and Kareem Grimes,
this excellent featurette takes a different approach to your usual making
of… From the rehearsals, through the actor's boot camp and onto production,
the cast and crew talk about bringing the book to the silver screen and
the amount of preparation that went into the making of the movie.
Previews of 'The Ice Harvest', 'Brokeback Mountain' and 'E-Ring'
Disc 2 (Collector's Edition)
Semper Fi (36.09 mins)
Director Sam Mendes introduces a featurette that acknowledges the service
men and women who are still serving or have served in Iraq. Narrated by
Anthony Swofford, the author of 'Jarhead', we hear from ex-marines Angel
Serrano, Robert Vlasaty and Alex Ryabov who served in Iraq during Operations
Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom and Tom Vick who served during the
first Gulf War in Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm. In honest
and frank interviews, the ex-soldiers talk about the difficulties of returning
to civilian life after been trained to be a killing machine. We also hear
about the effect of posttraumatic stress disorder on each of them, as
they find it extremely difficult to leave the service and war behind them.
This featurette offers a fascinating insight into what it is like for
the troops of each conflict and how it has affected them.
Background (31.10 mins)
Director Sam Mendes introduces a featurette that reveals the important
contribution that the extras made in the movie. Extras casting director
Deedee Rickets-Watts, technical advisors Tom Minder and James Dever and
weapons coordinator Robert 'Rock' Galotti are joined by the extras from
the movie to talk about the role they had to play in the movie. With mixture
of ex-marines and civilians we see how they were equipped and trained
for their parts in the 50 plus day shoot. With over 1500 extras working
on the film, we see what a mammoth task this was and the friendships that
were created on set. This is another excellent featurette that shows a
side to filmmaking that you never usually see.
The collector's edition package for the DVD release of 'Jarhead' is exceptionally
good. The featurettes are a complete breath of fresh air, offering something
different from the usual behind the scenes and backslapping that accompanies
DVD releases. Add to this some excellent commentary tracks and the director
and editor offering their insights into the deleted and extended scene
and you have an excellent example of how a DVD package should be put together.
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