Born On The Fourth Of July


Viewed – 12 April 2012  Blu-ray

During the eighties and early nineties, movies exploring the Vietnam war became a genre all of their own.  Some of the finest examples of cinema came out of such an uprising, most notably Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket, Robert DeNiro classic The Deer Hunter and also this often forgotten gem from Oliver Stone (Platoon, JFK, Natural Born Killers).

Tom Cruise plays real-life war veteran Ron Kovick, who after being injured in combat, went on to become a much celebrated activist for the ending of the war in Vietnam, which had claimed thousands of lives through the late sixties and early seventies.  Unlike some of the best ‘Nam movies though, this doesn’t focus on the conflict, but more on the people affected by it, especially Kovick whose life was turned upside down by his injury and his beliefs.  Stone’s movie is powerfully put together with an unforgettable score from John Williams and a career best from Cruise.  It packs a helluva punch too, heart-breaking and utterly absorbing, with an attention to detail Stone has become famous for (nabbing an Oscar for his efforts).  He remains possibly the best director of American history and tells it without glamour or rose-tinted glasses, but as it was, warts and all.  Surrounding cast members, such as Willem Dafoe, Kyra Sedgwick and the much underrated Frank Whaley are all very convincing too, even if its clear from the outset, Cruise is the star.

Perhaps in this age of CGI and amazing effects, some of the make-up and aging looks a tad weak, and at times the sentimental tone is hammered home a bit too strong.  Also I’d have liked more Vietnam action, but that’s a personal preference.  That being said, this is a movie that excels in its emotion and story, and has a draining but also uplifting quality that for me, makes it a classic.  Highly recommended.

The Blu-ray I am glad to report has an excellent picture.  Detail throughout is very good.  Grain does get a little heavy in darker scenes, but this retains the crisp quality of the image so I’m not complaining.  The movie’s soundtrack also has a good thump to it, and John William’s score as well as plenty of music all help create a good experience.  Extra’s consist of some archive news footage and a commentary from the director, which if you have ever listened to Oliver Stone talking you through a movie, is worth its weight in gold.

Verdict:

(the movie) 4 /5

(the Blu-ray) 4 /5

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