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  • Life on the Fringes of Desert Storm
    I really don't understand a couple of perspectives that are prevalent in a lot of the reviews I'm reading here: first, there are those that say this movie isn't a true to life account of the first Gulf War. Yet it is based a book written by a Marine who tells his account of what happened while he was there. Granted, his experience might be an unusually aberrant and anomalous one (or maybe author Anthony Swofford is just the Marines version of James Frey), but I think it's unfair to bash the movie's lack of "realism" because it quite faithfully portrays the words found in Swofford's account.

    Second, there are those who say nothing happens in this movie (and I had read some accounts of this going into the movie, so I was prepared for periods of boredom in viewing the DVD). That said, I was never bored throughout the entire film and couldn't for the life of me figure out what could have been meant by the phrase "nothing happens" unless people are using it to mean "no traditional war movie combat happens."

    Because, to my eyes and ears, plenty happened (and if you don't want to be spoiled for this movie, skip this paragraph because I'm about to list those happenings): there's the grueling (if uncharacteristic) training sequences (including the shocking death at Camp Pendleton), the fake-branding initiation, the football game and its consequences, the Christmas Eve party accident with the fire (and its fallout), the near killing and suicide by Swoff, the tense and surreal desert meeting with the Bedouins, the friendly fire attack, the running through mortar blasts to get batteries, the burning of the oil fields, the meal at the Highway of Death, Fowler's finding and desecration of the corpse, the incongruity of the oil-covered horse, the sniper mission with Swoff and Troy, and the final victory celebrations (at both home and in the desert).

    Sure, there were never any full-on scenes of engaging the enemy, but enough happened that I was never restless even though the movie itself is sometimes a depiction of restlessness.

    Finally, to those who say this movie dishonors our military, I just have to say that I found one of the final scenes on the bus (I'm trying not give anything away here) to be a very poignant and more-than-symbolic illustration of the brotherhood across many military generations.

    I personally think this is very well-shot and well-acted representation of Swofford's book. It's not meant to be a depiction of what happens in the center of Operation Desert Storm, but instead shows what takes place at the storm's fringes, where even there soldiers are at times showered upon by oil, mortar, and the fallout from their own anxiety and boredom....more info
  • Don't Ask a Marine
    It is clear from other reviews that this film failed the 'reality' test. According to many, the life depicted in the film does not resemble what is called reality. Curiously, reality is the criterion used to judge this film but not, say, 'Star War' or for that matter about 99% of Hollywood films. Like the director, I have no experience whatsoever of war, but I have a lifetime of film-going under my belt. As a film about film-making and not about war, this movie works. It is often visually stunning. There are numerous strikingly beautiful, stunningly horrid scenes that belong to the art of film and to nothing else. In this regard, it does obviously seek to echo Coppola's masterpiece on Vietnam, which, one should remember, was dismissed by the critics. The acting is quite good. Jake Gyllenhaal and Jamie Fox are both very strong here. There are some great scenes, although one might very well say that as a whole it doesn't excite. The story arc lacks dramatic momentum. It is episodic. The central plot of a soldier trained to do something that never happens is a problem; this is a kind of existential moment that is hard to dramatize. Waiting is difficult to bring over, yet we know that waiting is one of the crucial elements of what makes war so dreadful. If anything about the picture is real, this would be it, yet this is why the question of whether it is 'real' strikes me as irrelevant. Often to tell a good story one must let the 'real' go in favor of drama. In life, we often suffer from the fact that nothing happens, which is called boredom; in film, boredom is to be avoided at all costs. This is not an entirely successful movie, but it tries hard. ...more info
  • Marine's best friend
    Reminds me of what I go through on a day to day basis as a Marine, great movie. Recommend if you're a fellow Marine trying to explain what a life of a Marine is, just pop this movie in and watch it....more info
  • I assume the book is better
    Never read the memoir, but they say the movie is just like it. However, the print version is probably more entertaining. There's drama in the movie, just not very involving such as when Jake G goes nuts and almost shoots a fellow Marine, or when one of Jake's buddy's goes nuts when he is not allowed to fire a sniper shot at a distant Iraqi. I felt nothing during those scenes. This is a combo of old-fashioned Marine boot camp cliches and a somewhat updated take on what it was like to be a GI in the first Gulf War. It made me realize the U.S. has been wasting its time over there for almost 20 years now....more info
  • American Boredom: Every War is the Same
    American Boredom: Every War is the Same

    There is a mantra within the EMS (Emergency Medical Services) community that the work is defined by extended periods of intense boredom interrupted by occasional moments of sheer terror. The same has been said, I believe, of war (and marriage too perhaps). This is the primary message that is being made within this finely crafted piece on modern warfare. That and what this sort of pattern does to a man's psyche. However there are many other specific points of consideration that are touched upon during the film within this larger contextual premise.

    One of the strengths of `Jarhead' is that is manages to maintain a healthy comedic tone throughout most of its entirety. The humor is, though at times perhaps crude, nonetheless true to life and consistent with the type that emerges from within the safety of the camaraderie found in such a setting. To compare this film to Full Metal jacket is unfair. FMJ was iconic with its brutal depiction of basic training and the preparations for war. Attempts at humor were minimal when present at all. `Jarhead' is not only unique with its contrary approach but highly effective in making its points along the way. Its gradual progression into a more serious piece of work correlates with the transition of the young men in the film into active war combatants. It's logical artistically and it works.

    The acting is strong throughout, anchored by Jake Gyllenhaal and Jamie Fox, and talented more unknowns like Lucas Black and Chris Cooper in supporting roles. The points within the film, aside from the central aforementioned premise, relate to political motivations for war (like oil), suicide/mental health issues in combat veterans, friendly fire concerns, and the masturbatory practices of young men in isolation. It is at times tragic but the humor is what keeps it together and smooths the consumption of the more serious topics broached.

    Mendes exhibited his mastery previously with `American Beauty' and he does so again in a polar opposite setting. Do yourself and favor and check out `Jarhead'. Amidst the regular clutter of banal mediocrity in modern film and the overpopulated collection of similar war movies, lies this treasure. A thinking man's piece if not a masterpiece. And a fine one at that.

    -Rusty Scalpel
    ...more info
  • This movie is a piece of garbage minus 4 stars
    If you were to believe this movie you would have to believe that the Military has sunk to the lowest common level and preform their duty without any logic or reason. The writer does not know what he was talking about and it shows. He paints a very negative picture. I distroyed the dvd because it is garbage. Save our money and do NOT waste it on this one....more info
  • Jarhead - Blu-ray Info
    Version: U.S.A / Universal / Region A, B, C
    Aspect ratio: 2.35:1
    VC-1 BD-25 / Advanced Profile 3
    Running time: 2:02:50
    Movie size: 21,42 GB
    Disc size: 22,05 GB
    Average video bit rate: 15.91 Mbps
    Number of chapters: 20
    Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
    Extras: None

    DTS-HD Master Audio English 3840 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3840 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
    DTS Audio French 768 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit
    DTS Audio Spanish 768 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit
    Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / Dolby Surround
    Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / Dolby Surround


    Version: International / Universal / Region A, B, C
    Aspect ratio: 2.35:1
    VC-1 BD-25 / Advanced Profile 3
    Running time: 2:02:42
    Movie size: 35,89 GB
    Disc size: 47,47 GB
    Total bit rate: 39.00 Mbps
    Average video bit rate: 27.33 Mbps
    Number of chapters: 20
    Subtitles: German, English SDH, French, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Portuguese, Danish, Norwegisch, Finnish, Swedish, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Greek

    DTS-HD Master Audio English 3843 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3843 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
    DTS Audio French 768 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit
    DTS Audio German 768 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit
    DTS Audio Italian 768 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit
    DTS Audio Japanese 768 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit
    DTS Audio Spanish 768 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit
    Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / Dolby Surround
    Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / Dolby Surround

    #Audio commentary
    #Swoffs fantasies
    #Deleted Scenes
    #Jarhead records
    #Background Info
    #Semper Fi documentary
    #My scenes

    ******************************************************************...more info
  • An unconventional anti-war film - doesn't deliver the goods in the end
    The production team had a great idea with this film, but in the end they didn't quite succeed. In my view, the goal of this film was to create a war film that lies somewhere in between the antiwar documdramas like `Born on the 4th of July' and the gung-ho type stories such as `Saving Private Ryan' or even earlier war movies (like John Wayne films). The image of military service and the reality are two very different things. Some find that they take to the military life quite easily, but for others, it is tedious and unfulfilling. It is this last aspect of military service that is presented in this film. We follow the main character through basic training, through scout sniper school and into the desert as part of Operation Desert Shield after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. Several mind numbing months later, they are ready to go to war, march into Kuwait, and the war is over before it started without anyone having fired a single shot in anger. Everyone is left with the feeling that their perseverance was, in the end, a complete waste of time and energy.

    This movie is obviously based on the book by the same name. I've never read the book, but I've been told that there are important differences. The drill sergeant at the beginning of the film who physically abuses the recruits is subsequently discharged. This important detail is left out of the film and really changes the impression. The whole basic training scene is poorly (and unfairly) done in my opinion. Doesn't hold a candle to R. Lee Ermey's performance in `Full Metal Jacket', and in any case, they should have balanced it out somewhat by showing the transformation in the Marines after the Crucible. One thing emphasized in the book that isn't as fully developed in the film (but really is the key point) is the notion that many (although not all) young Marines want to leave the service as quickly as possible. Some enjoy their military service, but for many (most?), it is really a mind numbing duty that they want to put behind them as quickly as possible. I think this is particularly true for someone with a reasonably active intellect. That being said that, I wonder if Swofford (the author of the book and main character in the movie) actually regrets enlisting? I wonder if he asks himself how he would feel today if he didn't enlist?

    In the end, I think that the idea of creating a nuanced film that described the mind numbing boredom of much of military service was a good idea, but this film really didn't deliver the goods. Throughout history, young men have been making foolish, ill informed decisions. Military service is clearly vital to our national interest. Many will go into the military and have a good experience, many won't have a good experience. That's pretty much like everything in life. There are no guarantees. Some will die pointlessly, others gallantly in the `Good War`, whatever that is. There is a certain pride, however, in being able to say you stuck it out, didn't quit, and that nobody can take that away from you. It is this last point that Jarhead totally misses in my view.

    One last note, there is almost no `action' in this film, so if you are looking for a shoot-em' up type of film, you'll have no interest in this....more info
  • The Gulf War pictured well
    This movie provides you with a perfect picture of how American troops must have felt during the first Gulf War. All soldiers, trained for full frontal battle find themselves stationed way from any war zone. Watching only the airforce taking part of the
    action even the best disciplined men loose themselves in utter boredom. Personally I feel this opportunity for a strong polical statement is not being optimized, but still I think
    the US army will not use this movie for promotion. (SARR) ...more info
  • Great scenes, so-so movie.
    What can you say about a movie that has so many fine ingredients? This is all the hallmarks of a great movie - great director, terrific acting, epic cinematography, relevant message. And yet without a real narrative to hang on, this is a movie about the atmosphere - in particular, the cumulative effect of atmosphere. It will depend on the viewer if that atmosphere is enough to sustain interest.
    Jake Gyllenhaal is terrifically convincing as the na?ve young `average young man' who joins up instead of going to college. His journey is the lynchpin of the movie, and he makes it work. He starts off in the usual drill sergeant shouting at recruits type scenes, and finally gets to the Gulf. There, the movie is about the waiting. The boredom and frustration of being built up to act, and then sit on their heels unable to act.. Problem is, in convincingly conveying the boredom and frustration of the men, the viewer is equally bored and frustrated. The war starts, and yet the frustration is never truly released for the group of marines, and in the final scenes the end is somewhat bleak to say the least. The cream of the most macho soldiers are made to look impotent.
    This is a timely look at what some of the pressures must have been like - there are probably also parallels to be made with today's conflict, even though the situation is quite different. As the lead says towards the end - Every war is different - and every war is the same.
    So is this enough to spend your two hours on the couch..? The answer is probably only just - there was more that could have been made of these memoirs. But accepting its flaws, its probably still interesting enough to get through - just not if you are an action junkie!...more info
  • Jarhead
    Tough reality at boot camp. learn respect the hard way. Great build up with out final delivery....more info
  • A Full-metal jacket wannabe
    This movie is a pale imitation of Stanley Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket, updated to the first Gulf War. It is worth seeing together with Kubrick's great film just to contrast the imitative mediocre with the excellent....more info
  • Jarhead: Reality or One Guy's Perspective
    I watched this full screen DVD movie with interest as it follows a good genre of war-related films in the past few years. The presentation of USMC boot camp appeared realistic, albeit sadistic. To be prepared for person-to-person combat, the soldier/marine/sailor/airman must be broken down somewhat from the materialistic American culture and reborn as a colder, buddy-oriented killing machine--one which follows orders, though. The author's presentation of training, idleness, desert training, more boredom, loss of significant others back home, the frustration of war itself, and the bizarre juxtaposition of desert warfare with returning to the placidity of home are all excellent. The movie grabbed part of me. But I was a USAF forecaster in West Germany. My Marine friends, and I have several good ones, tell me this movie does not represent the Corps well. I do not know. I was not at Quantico, Camp Pendleton, or other USMC bases. I was at Lackland AFB for most of my training. A boys' camp was Lackland AFB. I am a little disappointed that more of the movie did not deal directly with the male bonding that is necessary and good in the military. The gay issue was side-stepped, and I think that was unfortunate. Many USMC personnel are gay and should be proud to be both, Marine and gay. All-in-all, I enjoyed the movie and will keep the DVD for another viewing in a year or so. ...more info
  • Interesting Movie
    Too bad HD-DVD is dead, but if you still own a player, this is a great movie for the price. I think those of us who are soldiers and have been to Iraq can understand this movie a little better than those who haven't. Some of the scences can be too close to home and somewhat overbearing for non-military viewers, but helps to remind us how much of a sacrifice we made in both wars. The picture quality and sound delivers, though this more of an enhanced DVD than a true HD movie. ...more info
  • Not very good.
    My first thought about this movie was that it was flat, uninspiring, depressive and pretty boring. The best part of the movie was when they were watching "Apocolypse Now", and I thought too myself, "That was a great movie, I gotta watch that one". Then the scene where they are about to watch "The Deer Hunter" I thought, "Wow, another cool movie I want to see." Then, well, let's just say that scene falls short and turns out for the worse.

    The characters weren't very interesting. I didn't feel "Swoff" was a character to really want to know. He seemed so disjared, but, I understand the director wanted us to feel that he "lost" himself. Well, in the process the audience got lost. Jamie Foxx's character, was useless. No presence. The whole movie was very avantgarde.

    I wasn't in the military, but from reading reviews from people who were in the military, this movie isn't very realistic. I don't know either way. I do know that "Full Metal Jacket", "Apocolypse Now", "The Deer Hunter" were much better film. And, okay, maybe "Platoon", which I grew to dislike over the years.

    Well, that's my review of the movie. Hope it helps. If you want to see it, wait until it comes on cable for free, don't buy the DVD. See it first....more info
  • A Grunt's Point Of View
    To Understand It, It Helps To Be A Marine. To Relate, You Need To Be A Grunt....more info
  • Embarrassments all round.
    Where to begin with a film so full of verbal and visual clichs? Taken from Swofford's cynical memoirs, Mendes goes to town with the usual "grunts as foul mouthed dupes thrown into war by capitallists" routine. The language is gratuitous except to convey how Hollywood thinks recruits and PFCs behave. Drill sergeants have long been prevented from slapping recruits but here we go again with scenes showing the supposed brutality of the system.

    Mendes thought he had the raw material for a great war movie. He doesn't. And it looks like he gave up trying halfway, throwing around liberal and literal plagiarisms from Apocalypse Now, Three Kings, Full Metal Jacket, The Hill and Deer Hunter. It's pathetic.

    For the acting, Chris Cooper phones his performance in and Dennis Haysbert wanders in from another movie. Only Peter Sarsgaard emerges with any credit. An actor to watch for but not in this nonsense.
    ...more info
  • Typical war movie
    Well, this to me is definitely a guy's movie! It did have some very good moments and it gave me a sense of what it must have been like for the soldiers during Desert Storm. Surprisingly, the time went by fast while I was watching this movie so that tells me that I got into it. Yet I feel that I will not be able to remember much of this. Maybe for me this was a typical well made war movie. Something I liked while watching but doesn't stay reach me down deep.

    Well, one scene I might remember is when a Vietnam Vet came on the bus with the soldiers during a "welcome home" parade. He wanted to shake their hands. Since the soldiers of that war didn't get cheered when they came back to the America I think he was glad they did. I also think at a subconsciouses level wanted a little vicarious pleasure out of their victorious return.
    ...more info
  • Mediocrity as art
    In Okinawa in WW2 the Marines lost 7.547 men over ten days taking a small rise called Sugar Loaf Hill. Many times 40 or 50 went up and two came back....

    For the marines the Gulf War was a pseudo war. And this not a war movie. If you are expecting a new Apocalypse Now, you'll be disappointed. Perhaps I am just getting old but all this is are one man's common and petty grumbles about his chosen profession (grumbles being that its hard, at times boring, and there's a hierachy in place, not exactly earth shattering revelations) directed by a man who hates American capitalism (American Beauty) and now, apparently, the American military. ...more info
  • HD EXTRA !
    Images et diverses pistes sonores au top de la technologie !
    Comme en plus le film est excellent, on ne va pas s'en plaindre...
    Jetez vous sur ce HD-DVD, vous n'allez pas en croire vos yeux...
    Val...more info
  • No elite soldiers or action in Jarhead
    In essence, "Jarhead" takes the fairly noneventful career of a Marine Sniper and attempts to elevate it to a cinematic high-note. Despite deployment as a Marine Sniper to Iraq in 1991, as part of the Desert Storm operation, the Jarhead never fires his weapon and barely gets close to any action. The film is then left with task of entertaining it's audience.

    When the book, "Jarhead", was published so many years ago, I was curious about some of the military operations and viewpoints that it might hold. There was little literary material concerning Desert Storm at the time. However, I never read because there were many other highly noted military authors that deserved more attention.

    The movie "Jarhead" provided viewpoints that were more to my dismay than enlightening, and descriptions of military operations and tactics are slim to nonexistent. The story follows a format similar to "Full Metal Jacket," "Hamburger Hill" and "Platoon," delving into the social setting of young men in the military environment, and dramatizing the experiences from the viewpoint of a central character, Anthony Swofford. A portion of the film portrays war events using surrealistic scenes and dialog similar to "Apocalypse Now." Yet, the material seems to be a better measure of the director's desire to immitate the other films, than film-making ability.

    The movie opens up with boot camp (basic training) scenes that immitate the movie "Full Metal Jacket," but with little of the sadistic humor or intensity. Though yelling and derision of trainees by Drill Instructors is standard military enlistee indoctrination by the Corps, "Jarhead" does not bring to light any significant realism or dramatic originality. As the movie progresses, further indoctrination occurs between the central character, Swofford, and his fellow marine soldiers, culminating in relationships and character development that do little to elevate the circumstances they encounter as soldiers in Iraq. The circumstances often involve nothing more than over-dramatization of Marines acting like young fools, the moments that we look back upon with embarrassment.

    The movie tries to elevate interest by revealing a tent-held, New Year's celebration in Iraq - vaguely reminiscent of the "Platoon" GI dope party. The scene opens with music blasting and a zoom shot of Swofford's bare buttocks as he dances with a jock strap amid his partying buddies . The combination of aversive moments, to include frequent mentioning of masturbation, toilet conversations, and the like, with characters and dialogue that are generally annoying, and I was considering abandoning the film less than mid length. By the time I encountered the surreally presented combat scenes and events which came later in the movie, disgust had impeded any real enjoyment of the film.

    Another central character, the Sniper "Gunny" Sergeant, carries-on to his subordinates in a rapid, martinet style, criticizing and bemusing his subordinates, more like the Drill Instructor charade than the behavior of any remotely intelligent unit leader or training instructor. As a member of infantry and intelligence units in the Army for several years, I've never met a unit leader (outside of Basic Training) that used a style like this. To any soldier other than a raw recruit encountering a Drill Instructor, you would be viewed as an idiot. After the initial shock treatment, even D.I.'s start dropping the psycho-Sergeant approach.

    I suppose that making young Marine snipers look a little wild and mentally off is supposed to be stirring, or add to the seduction of elite soldier status. However, the film does nothing to provide a more realistic portrayal of disciplined and talented group of young snipers, than does the film "Sniper", starring Tom Berenger as the finely-honed, experienced killing machine. In fact, whether accurate or not, the soldiers appear to be like any other young "grunt" far from home and just wanting some action.

    There are several other films, set amid more recent wars, that I have already mentioned, and feel are better than "Jarhead." "Black Hawk Down" and "Three Kings" also come quickly to mind. Its hard to make a suggestion as to who might really enjoy the film since it tries to captivate something for each; action and war drama, poetic or raw-shock drama, youth-humor and rebellion amid the highly autocratic, military environment. The movie is not strong in any specific category. For those seeking a compelling re-enactment of tightly woven events encountered by an elite soldier during Desert Storm, I would avoid this movie, without hesitation. ...more info
  • May not be your average war film, but it's one of the 'better' war films!
    I absolutely loved this movie, for it stands out from the crowd of generic war films and gives you a sense of realism. Based on Anthony Swofford's memoir, `Jarhead' stays pretty faithful to it's source and delivers a unique movie going experience that thrives on the brilliant performances of it's cast, in particular Gyllenhaal and Sarsgaard. As Anthony `Swoff' Swofford (Gyllenhaal) learns to adjust to life in the Marines he soon realizes that it's not what he expected it to be. He doesn't want to be there, he never wanted to be there.

    On the other hand Troy (Sarsgaard) struggles with learning his reenlistment has been denied at that he must soon leave. Troy wants nothing more than to fight, but he fears he'll never get the opportunity to engage in the very thing he's trained so hard for. Both Gyllenhaal and Sarsgaard put so much into their characters that the fact both were snubbed of Oscar nominations baffles me. Especially Peter who quickly became the most sympathetic character in the bunch and the one we felt the most pain for.

    I've heard this is a very realistic view of what our soldiers go through, a lot of waiting around for something to happen with nothing to do but get close to those around you and pray the ones you left haven't moved on. It's not your typical war film so don't expect `Saving Private Ryan' or anything like that. This is a drama about the affect war has on those involved. The cinematography is astounding, just beautifully shot, and Sam Mendes deserves top notch honors for his brilliant directing. I'm just really shocked that this movie was overlooked by Oscar.

    Jamie Foxx does deliver a nice performance if albeit overshadowed by almost every other actor here, especially the aforementioned as well as Lucas Black who delivers the comedic relief in this film. Gyllenhaal had a killer year with his Oscar nominated performance in `Brokeback Mountain' as well as `Proof' and with each performance he brought something new and something fresh to the fore. He's definitely one to watch!...more info
  • 3 stars out of 4
    The Bottom Line:

    An excellent and original take on modern warfare that presents many indelible images (the burning oilfields, road of death, etc.) and two very good supporting performances by Jamie Foxx and Peter Sarsgaard, Jarhead is a much different movie than most people expected, but it's also a very worthy and thought-provoking one....more info
  • Jarhead: A Marine Tribute
    I remember reading the novel jarhead after I left the Corps, and seeing a lot of similarities between my experience and Swoff's, even though they were more than ten years apart. I saw an ad for this movie, and knew that I would have to see it. I bought it as soon as it came on DVD, and loved it. However, I remember reading reviews in the Military Times newspaper; some Marines said it reflected life in the Corps realistically, some said it didn't. Here's the funny part of that: the Marines who said it was realistic, were all grunts, like me. The ones who said otherwise, weren't. So, for those of you who have loved ones serving in the Marine Corps, I would recommend this movie and the book its based upon for a gift for your Marine. Jamie Foxx, while he wasn't the best example of a Marine Staff Sergeant, wasn't terrible either. And Jake G., played a great role as a man who entered the service with one idea of it was going to be, and leaving with an altogether different opinion, brilliantly. If you want to know what an infantry Marine goes through, read the book, watch the movie. You won't hate the Corps, but you will question its personnel.
    ...more info
  • Much Promise, but is consistently bad thoughout!
    I was excited to hear of this movie being set during the Iraqui conflict of 1990, and was determined to see it as soon as it hit the video market. I expected a great war story set in the desert using all the terms, cities, and people that became common to everyone during the Gulf War. As one who greatly enjoyed "Saving Private Ryan," "Pearl Harbor," and "Enemy at the Gates", I couldn't wait to see this thing.

    Flatout disliked it from the first unpleasant moments! It just went down hill at great velocity as the focus seemed to be on how bad life is for this guy that seemed to be a suicidal candidate before he even arrived in the middle east. The whole thing seemed to be some kind of psychological study of this one guy who mulls over the expected unfaithfulness of his girlfriend, and the necessity of attaining some kind of mindless state to survive in the military, which for him is depicted as a last, possible choice of a career. I really am not sure what the final conclusions were for this "mental study", except that he is so disappointed when he didn't get to shoot somebody quick enough.

    Maybe I missed something in this show, but I don't think so. It is just a very bad movie. I highly recomend that it is skipped over by folks that enjoy the great shows like the ones I mentioned earlier. This movie had nothing at all in it that entertained me....more info
  • Frankly, I was surprised
    This movie caught me off-guard (no pun intended). I was not expecting much from it, having only been slightly impressed with Mendes' previous two films, American Beauty and Road to Perdition.

    Jarhead had sat for ages on my entertainment center, gathering dust in its rental case, before I finally decided to give it a try. And I'm glad I did.

    What a great film. Stark and gritty, but with a glowing soul at its core. The cinematography and effects (there were mountains in the background of those "desert" shots, which had to be digitally removed) were very impressive. The acting was top-notch. Jake Gylenhall gave an award-worthy performance, as you can actually see and feel his character losing his mind, which seems wholly believable and true. Jamie Foxx was understated, but powerful - and it was refreshing to not see the cliched difficult/evil superior officer that has plagued earlier war movies.

    Some great scenes throughout - especially the "Deer Hunter" VHS scene. Wow! And the way the film conveys the isolation of deployed troops - cut off from home, family, and in some cases, sanity - is incredibly well done. You feel for these guys as they trudge through their unenviable situation.

    Overall, a very, very good film. I give it 4 stars here, but it really deserves more like a 9 out of 10.

    Powerful and memorable....more info
  • Marine Life on Display!
    I thought that this was a pretty good movie and that it was a good adaptation of the book and stayed very true to it. This movie exposes that brain washing and homoerotic culture of the American Military. It also shows the truth behind the everyday life of the basic Marine during desert storm. It might not be what you expect in that the action is few and far between. But it also has a ton of the basic war movie stuff that you have seen in every war movie since The Boys from Company C.

    Still a good movie and worth watching, check it out!...more info
  • Refreshing story of one particular marine during Gulf War #1
    I was reluctant to see this 2005 film. I had read this 2003 memoir of Gulf War #1 by Marine Private Anthony Swafford and I enjoyed it. But yet I just couldn't quite imagine it as a film. That's because there is very little action; it's all about what's going on in the young marine's mind. But that was the nature of that war. There was a lot of training, a lot of waiting, lots of boredom, and lots of reporters with microphones and videotape trying to find a story where there was none. Maybe that's why one of the things I mostly remember from that war was the soldiers playing football in the sun while wearing full chemical retardant gear. And this was on a desert where the average temperature was about 112 degrees Fahrenheit.

    The film got poor reviews but I was still curious. And that's why I made sure to see it. I'm glad I did because I found it refreshing, a war movie was about one particular soldier with a voice-over narration of well chosen words. Jake Gyllenhaal, of Brokeback Mountain fame, is the star. His wears a "jarhead" crew cut and a pensive expression most of the time. We share his anticipation, his disappointments, and his realization that all his expectations have been wrong. He and his fellow marines have been trained and trained and then over-trained by their sergeant, played by Jamie Foxx. There is some great surreal cinematography of the unending desert and the landscape of the oil wells aflame while the soldiers do little but come across charred bodies. There's no heroism and when Gyllenhaal and fellow marine, Peter Sarsgaard finally think they are going to use their sharpshooter skills, their hopes are shattered by a commanding officer who refuses to let them take that shot.

    There are different kinds of wars. And Jarhead captures the experience of Gulf War #1 magnificently. ...more info
  • The Gulf War: A Comedy
    *** minor spoilers ***

    This can't be how Marines act or we would have lost every war. This is how sheltered Hollywood people like Sam Mendes see our military though; like over-the-top obnoxious clowns who can barely string three words together or shoot a gun. Also I wouldn't be surprised if Mendes or the original writer of this book were gay, because way too many scenes had these guys dancing around naked and pretending to screw each other. Never have I've seen guys act this way. Not even gay guys. But this is how Hollywood feminine men like to see guys act. The most awful example is when Jake Gyllenhaal is dancing around like a fool wearing nothing but a Santa hat.

    The music in the background was way out of place. How can I take a movie seriously when they start playing C&C Music Factory's "Everybody Sweat"? I felt like I was watching an MTV reality show.

    There were some good moments in Jarhead, and some decent acting here and there, but as soon as it started to get good, the movie would break into comedy again. Just trying too hard to be funny or absurd. The superior Full Metal Jacket, which Jarhead tried to be like, took the natural absurdity and humor embedded in war and let it speak for itself. This movie instead forces it on you. It really is in an insult to everyone involved to turn war, death and destruction into a comedy unless it's done right. Gyllenhaal's problem with his unfaithful girlfriend was also not handled correctly. This was the seed that caused him to begin to lose his sanity. However the transformation is not well done or convincing. Actually the whole movie is just a mish-mash of points trying to be made that are never really made. It's just one big mess....more info
  • Inferior DVD
    Halfway through the DVD it started to stop and start throughout the second half. I will not buy anything else from Amazon.
    ...more info
  • Not at all what I expected
    I rented this one last night, expecting a typical war story. What I got was something else entirely. This is the movie adaptation of the autobiographical book of the same name by Anthony Swofford about his experiences in the Marines during the first Gulf War. As a former military guy myself from that era, I was initially drawn into the story because I could relate to Swofford's introduction into military life at boot camp. It was a scene familiar to anyone with armed forces experience. Unfortunately, the movie went downhill from there.

    As the story traces Swofford's short military career through his garrison time and into Desert Shield, there remains an aura of credibility, although frankly some of the behavior depicted by the servicemen began to stretch the limits of what was believable based on what I knew of military life. As Desert Shield drags on for months, the focus shifts to the emotional and psychological toll of wartime inactivity, which admittedly is more pronounced among sex-starved young men who know nothing but loneliness and boredom. Even so, these scenes become exaggerated and even caricatured by the onset of the Desert Storm phase.

    Finally, the theme moves on to the futility and senselessness of war from the perspective of the average grunt on the ground. Again, there was some familiarity here for one who had lived through eight years of often nonsensical and contradictory military culture. However, some of the Marines' responses simply didn't jive with the reality of their circumstances, or reflect fairly on the immense professionalism that characterizes the modern U.S. military, both now and during the early 90s when this story takes place.

    Oddly enough, for a "war movie" this had almost no violence in it whatsoever. It is much more of a character study and a psychological inquiry into the nature of young men trained to fight and kill. It renders an indictment of high-level military leadership which, while true, is also one-sided. In short, this story offers up heavy doses of both reality and exaggeration, and it is up to the viewer to try to sort out which is which. For people with military experience that shouldn't be too hard, but others will likely walk away with a distorted view of our armed forces....more info
  • The most boring war/military movie I've ever seen
    Jarhead follows Jake Gyllenhall through marine bootcamp, through training as a sniper and being sent to Kuwait in the first Gulf War. We watch him get chewed out, worry about his girlfriend cheating on him, fight and party with his marine brothers, go crazy with boredom in the desert and finally get to go on a mission.

    If all that sounds boring, it is. Nothing interesting happens in this movie. It's 70 minutes into it before the war even begins and then, still nothing happens. Even when he finally gets a mission, it's dull. The scope of this movie tries to be a Full Metal Jacket for the Gulf War generation but fails in the sheer pointlessness of the story....more info
  • customer disservice
    I was so disappointed in my expereince with this source. The very day the DVD I ordered cam I realized it was an HDDVD and that that wouldn't work for the person I intended to give this date. I contacted the salesperson immediately asking about the return policy and explaining the situation as ell as the urgency in my plan to remedy this in time to give a sibling his Christmas gift.

    To my dismay, it's been more than three weeks and I have yet to hear a thing form them. That's the worst experience I've had yet as an internet shopper. ...more info
  • Every Man Fights His Own War
    This movie is hugely underrated, and often poorly misrepresented. At least it appears so from a lot of these reviews.
    Perhaps as others have said, it was and still is marketed incorrectly, as some believe the absence of "War-like Violence" leaves much to be desired.
    But define war?? At least in its true, non text book sense and this movie will speak volumes.
    It's an incredibly intelligent, poignant and heartbreakingly honest film, driven by 'the wait' for an enemy that never emerged.
    Perhaps our ignorance for such a film proves our ignorance towards the true mechanisms and often extreme waste that war is.
    Mission to kill?
    We seem to forget the stories of those who did nothing but kill time in the desert.
    As the film concludes; "He will always remain, a jarhead. And all the jarheads, killing and dying, they will always be me...
    We are still in the desert"
    5 stars...
    If you're intelligent enough to understand it, you'll never forget it
    ...more info
    I am a military fanatic I am all for our troops I love all movies that suggest military anything. This movie was a great movie some might think its slow though and not a great story line but it was a good "blowin **** up" movie :)...more info
  • Good Movie for a Boring Day
    This isn't the most captivating movie in the world, but it does have humor in it with a serious underlying message. It's a good movie to watch when you're tired, but not so good for real brain stimulation....more info
  • A $1 rental
    I wish I had watched it before I bought it. In that it is fairly realistic so I'm told by guys who were there it dull and boring and mostly pointless. If you are looking for action go some where else....more info
  • Actually, probably pretty accurate
    You probably thought the military was all about action, didn't you? All friendly fire, all the time! OOOOHHHH RAAAHHHH!!!

    Actually, the military isn't all that exciting. Sure, there is the initiation....forgive me, bootcamp - most fraternities consider that pledging, or hazing - where you commit yourself 100% and are temporarily brainwashed into thinking that this organization that you're initiated into is the most important thing in the world....

    But then you get out of bootcamp, and your days are dominated by formations, classes, getting yelled at for no reason, and other service men and women finding different ways to spend their time.

    This movie was one of the BEST representations of that I have EVER seen. Unless you're actually on the front lines during a war, you're stuck, bored, bonding with your colleagues (sorry, couldn't think of a better word).

    I found it completely believable that Jake's character had little to no battle experience. I thought it was actually really refreshing to see some of the myths that I had heard as a military wife (the cookies and the video, for instance) come to light on the big screen. I think, to me, the most important part of the movie was seeing them NOT get to shoot their target, and to miss out on the mission as snipers. That, leading up to the first time they actually got to shoot their guns at the end of the film, I really think was important. It showed the pent up rage and anger and frustration of being in a place for a period of time and not really fufulling any real purpose.

    This movie gives a different perspective on military life and personell. I enjoyed it....more info
  • Actually a decent movie, Not just a copy of Full metal Jacket
    My biggest fear was that this movie would be just another knockoff of Apocalype Now or Platoon, but it really wasn't. It took a slightly different route, showing more of the politics and and soldiers struggle with everyday military life, not just concentrating on the horrors of war. This would be more like a Full Metal Jacket, but updated for the new millenium, with a different story line. This didn't deal with the grunts of the military, this dealt with a more elite group, the Snipers. What do these guys do in their downtime, which appeared to be quite a bit for this subspecialty. Private Swoff ( Jake Gyllenhaal) is the character that drive the plot and narrates. This movie is worth watching if you like Full metal Jacket. It does tend to politically slam some of the beurocracy and prior administrations, so if you don't care for that type of movie and are "loyal" to you commanders, then avoid this movie. I suspect this is likely the same group that would criticize Full Metal Jacket as well. ...more info
  • Ollie North said it sucks
    Well, Lt.Col North didn't actually use the word 'sucks.' But he said it was a waste of his money, and he extorted his listeners to save 2 hours of their life. He actually had hoped it would portray Marines in a good light, but said he found nothing redeeming about this movie....more info
  • How About ZERO Stars
    What a horrible movie!!! I tried to give it away but everyone that takes it gives it back after they watch it!!! I can't believe I bought this when it first came out - "welcome to the suck" - yeah, now I know what that means after paying for this thing.

    I'm a vet & can't understand any others enjoying this tripe....more info
  • A bit slow
    This movie describes the war in Iraq, how the Marines behave and the problems they face. However it is a bit slow and sometimes tedious.
    ...more info
  • Jarhead
    An outstanding look at the training of, and the life of a Marine.
    I would say that the story line is quite factual, and that the
    scenario is quite realistic..... including political intervention into
    a combat situation. I have told a Marine buddy about the movie and
    he will be viewing it soon. I fully expect him to agree with my
    assesment. Semper Fi....more info
  • Exploring the brain within the jar
    This film, which is based on Anthony Swofford's account of his experiences in Desert Shield and Desert Storm, is a bit controversial but controvery that makes us think is a good thing.

    In some ways this film is the exact opposite of the film Black Hawk Down. In Black Hawk Down, the war action never ends, whereas in Jarhead it never seems to start. Thus Jarhead focuses on the preparation for war, the boredom waiting for war, and the irony of fighting a war at the fringe if the action.

    The film seemed to wish to make a statement about young male soldiers - what makes them tick. In this regard, the film succeeds. The film depicts these young 19 and 20 year old fellows as nieve about the world and yet foolishly cocky. These fellows were under educated and under achievers from rural areas or the inner city. They were not the sons of doctors and lawyers from the suburbs. They were influenced by a substance called testosterone that fuels aggressive blood lust and wild mood swings. They also are subject to the effects of alcohol, which we all know does not mix well with testosterone. Yet, they are also pack driven and eventually fall in line under the direction of an alpha male, played very well by Jamie Foxx in this film.

    The film also casts a jaundiced eye toward military leadership. These young men were not really prepared for war, despite their bravado. The malfunction of equipment, such as gas masks and communication equipment, was a constant running joke in the film. Those who know just how much tax payers must pay for such useless broken equipment to military contractors realize this is far from a joke.

    The story or plot involves a group of soldiers waiting to fight, always on the edges of the action, and thus they experience such adventures and finding thousands of burned Iraqi vehicles and charred bodies; or nomads complaining of shot camels; or a desert of black burning oil fields.

    I think that this is one of those films, like Stanley Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket, that get better with age and distance. With time the film will be seen as a film about the young male Marine, and not a political statement about our conflicts in Iraq. The title "Jarhead" should lead us to the real purpose of this film.

    ...more info
    This movie doesnt even closely resemble reality in the Marine Corps. It brings dishonor to his service as a MARINE. ...more info
  • Well acted. Well written. Well directed.
    I really enjoyed the performances by Peter Sarsgaard and Jake Gyllenhaal. Even Jamie Foxx deserves credit for the work he did in Jarhead.

    I do not normally like Jake Gyllenhaal. It is not that I dislike him at all, in most of his roles I have simply found him unremarkable. He brought a passion to Jarhead that he has not had the ability to display in previous movies. He has come a long way since Bubble Boy.

    I like Peter Sarsgaard. I have liked him in pervious parts and I appreciate the complexity he brought to the character in Jarhead.

    Not too long ago I could be heard requesting the end of Jamie Foxx's 15 minutes of fame. More often than not he plays a relatively transparent character and he does little, if anything, to bring the parts to life. (Granted, I have not seen Ray, so I am speaking only of his other work.) If he continues to bring the maturity to future characters that he brought to Jarhead, I will gladly eat my words.

    I liked the way Jarhead, in a subtle fashion, portrayed different types of Marines. The movie primarily featured the enlisted son of a proud veteran, the cowboy Marine who can't wait to kill anything and everything, the man with the haunted past trying to lose himself in the Marines, and the firm-but-fair, almost fatherly, commanding officer. There were many other men and women who fought and participated bravely in the war, but these characters were the focus of the movie.

    I liked two main themes/symbols from the movie. I found it very interesting the way the movie suggests that soldiers are coached on how to address the press when expressing their opinions on the war. I also enjoyed the contrast in one of the final scenes as the veteran Marine joins the young men on the bus. This scene was brilliant in its awkwardness.

    (I was a little disappointed by how similar boot camp experience with the drill sergeant was to the beginning of Full Metal Jacket, but it may not bother you at all.)

    I approached Jarhead very objectively and found myself very pleased with the movie. I had no expectations, lofty or otherwise. I was able to enjoy the movie for what it was. The language and some subject matter may make the movie prohibitive to a younger audience, but I believe Jarhead is an important movie for the respect and appreciation of our armed forces. ...more info
  • The frustration of going to war and never firing a shot
    This war film contains precious little action. It's anti-war in the sense that the main character never gets to fire a shot (as Gulf War I is over so quickly) and so is left frustrated - and the viewer is left with this feeling too. We certainly get to experience the boredom and tension that came with the six months preparation for the war. Well made and well acted but not that entertaining....more info
  • An altogether new breed of war movie
    Jarhead is not your typical war movie. It isn't about some soldier ascending to the plateau of hero or some impossible mission miraculously being achieved or even a slanted commentary on the dehumanization of the soldier experience. Instinctively, the viewer of a war movie looks for something big in the end - be it a major battle or some philosophical point about war in general. Jarhead doesn't deliver either of these two things - and that it both its greatest strength and its greatest weakness.

    Jarhead is a personal war story, a truth-based depiction of military life and the Iraqi War as one Marine lived it. We meet Swofford (Jake Gyllenhaal) in boot camp, as he first begins to question his decision to join up. Swoff is anything but a model soldier, yet somehow he manages to get recruited into an elite Marine Sniper unit commanded by Staff Sgt. Sykes (Jamie Foxx). His training is ruthless and difficult, yet his sharp-shooting ability gets him through it, despite a few major incidents along the way. With Saddam's invasion of Kuwait, Swoff and his fellow Marines start to get ready for the real battlefield experience some of them seem to crave. Rather than hitting the beaches running, though, the men are forced to endure month after month in the middle of very hot, very sandy nowhere. Running around the desert in full chemical weapons suits is brutal, but nothing is more agonizing to these Marines than the interminable wait for something to happen. Military discipline or no, it's no great shock when Swoff goes a little stir crazy out there - what is shocking, however, is that he wasn't drummed out of the Corps for what he did. Anyway, the war finally begins, but it's nothing like what Swoff and his fellow snipers expected. The war moves too quickly for them, leaving the men walking through wastelands littered with death and destruction and enduring the torture of a constant oily rain from all the oil wells Saddam had torched, as all the while they desperately yearn for the chance to actually engage the enemy and do what they were trained to do.

    We really only get to know three of the soldiers - Swoff, who just wants out; Troy (Peter Sarsgaard), who just wants to remain a soldier, and Sykes, a career soldier who believes in and loves serving his country - but we get a number of viewpoints into Marine life from other prominent soldiers. I daresay the emotional climax of the film is unique among the genre of war films; it's the exact opposite of what I expected and is actually quite jarring to sit there and watch. Its significance is reinforced by the film's ending, but I don't think the conclusion really works all that well. It's just sort of thrown out there at the end, and I don't think the movie gives us enough to truly put what happens in any real context. It's the kind of ending, though, that makes you ask yourself what the real point of this movie was. I've come to the conclusion that there really isn't a definitive point propelling itself through the script. Managing to tow a rather objective line from start to finish, Jarhead gives you plenty to think about - but it leaves you to take what you will from the viewing experience.

    There are rarely any simple truths to be found in war, and there's more to being a hero than killing more than your share of enemies. Don't go into Jarhead expecting an hour's worth of fierce combat or looking to have your pro- or anti-war beliefs strengthened or challenged. Some people will not like this movie, but I think it's an important film that succeeds pretty darned well in putting the viewer inside the mind of a real soldier....more info
  • Jarhead (2005)
    Director: Sam Mendes
    Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Scott MacDonald, Peter Sarsgaard, Jamie Foxx, Lo Ming, Lucas Black, Kevin Foster, Brian Geraghty, Chris Cooper.
    Running Time: 123 minutes
    Rated R for Rated R for pervasive language, some violent images and strong sexual content.

    Jarhead, as many people know, is a slang term for a US Marine. One of those newly minted jarheads is Anthony Swofford (Jake Gyllenhaal) who, largely to even his own surprise, finds himself enduring the rigors of basic training and then still more brutal training for his assigned specialty. Swoff tells one drill sergeant that he's in the Marines only because he "took a wrong turn on the way to college." His explanation doesn't go over well. Later, he does everything he can think of to drum himself out of the Corps. Eventually, between the friendship and support of his partner, Allen Troy (Peter Sarsgaard) and the tough example set by his commander, Staff Sergeant Sykes (Jamie Foxx), Swoff becomes very, very good at his new job: a scout sniper. Needless to say, when the news breaks that Saddam Hussein has invaded Kuwait, Swoff's group is one of the first to be sent overseas. The troops are welcomed to the desert by Lt. Col Kazinski (Chris Cooper) who commands a large segment of the Marines deployed there, and who tells them they must maintain constant vigilance and be ready to fight at a moment's notice. But months go by with nothing to do but drills and more drills, and the boredom, anxiety, heat, and desolation of their circumstances begin to wear. The men, of course, find some very creative (and usually very naughty) ways to entertain themselves and each other during this time. But when war is at last declared, they move out like the professionals they've been trained to be. In the midst of burning oil wells and charred vehicle convoys, Swoff and his company make their way into enemy territory. They endure enemy fire and fear; fights amongst themselves and utter despair. And then, as suddenly as it began, the war is over. But despite the brevity of Swoff's experience (his own fighting war lasts only a little over four days), he and everyone else is changed by their experiences, and not all of those changes are easy to live with.

    "Jarhead" gives us the firsthand experience of one soldier in the Gulf War with all of the attendant good and bad moments. As such, it's fascinating in and of itself. But director Sam Mendes has added dramatically to the story with some truly brilliant edits, some creatively managed flashbacks, and some astounding settings (the burning oil wells are bizarrely heart breaking even as the depiction on screen is awesome; the destruction wreaked by American bombs is graphic and moving). Of course, the fact that the film is based on a book written by the real Anthony Swofford about his own experiences in the Gulf War means that even Hollywood effects can't take away from the back of our minds that much of what we see is real, or at least was. Jake Gyllenhaal has become a very good actor indeed, and holds his own with Oscar(tm)-winner Jamie Foxx, whose performance could very well garner him another awards-season nod for his supporting role. Peter Sarsgaard is also just terrific. "Jarhead" isn't a war movie per se in the sense that it shows a lot of shoot 'em up action, but it may be one of the few war movies that actually conveys graphically the sheer boredom and hurry-up-and-wait that is the reality for many soldiers. That the men perform so well despite the emotional obstacles of where they are and what they might have to do, and that they're a cohesive group when it counts no matter the flaws of each or any of them, is unquestionably honored here. Not quite up to the quality of director Sam Mendes's "American Beauty" and "Road to Perdition", but with his first three films, he has solidified himself as one of the most aggressive, intelligent, and thought-provoking filmmakers out there.
    ...more info
  • War is a bore
    Anthony "Swoff" Swofford served in Gulf War One, and then came home to write about it. His gripping book, "Jarhead: A Marine's Chronicle of the Gulf War and Other Battles," was quickly optioned to be a movie. Where the book captures the fleeting explosions of adrenaline that briefly hits you between countless days of tedium, the film version really loads up the tedium.

    Really, this uninspiring true-life take on being a soldier may be the most honest take on war ever filmed. There are no heroics. No moments of raging brilliance to stop an enemy. Just hot sweaty men in a desert, scared as hell and maybe bored beyond it. What that translates to is tedious viewing. War is the long stretches of nothing between battles, and these long stretches form the majority of "Jarhead." If you're looking for "Saving Private Ryan," "Platoon" or even "The Boys of Company C," you're not getting any of that here. "Swoff" spends his entire stay in Desert Shield to Desert Storm wondering when he will finally get the chance to use his elite sniper training to make his first kill. The kill that never comes.

    "Jarhead" comes closest to mimicking the superior "Full Metal Jacket" in that the drollness of Swofford matches Private Joker in Kubrick's film. But "Jarhead" has no payoff. Theirs is a place where no point of view ever happens...what politics there are in the movie will come strictly from your own point of view. The film itself is visually stunning, I doubt if the scene where oil rains down on Swoff's unit in the night, the desert lit only from flaming oil wells will easily be forgotten, or the horrific "highways of death" recreation. (Google that reference for the background.) Jake Gyllenhaal gives an eerie performance, the emotions bubbling under his facade. (Almost as good as his turn in "Brokeback Mountain.")

    But again, I return to the movie's pace and subject matter. It really is too slow and random to be truly entertaining, and yet its lack of any real point of view makes it hard to really dig into the charachters here. Just like Swofford, you spend the duration of "Jarhead" waiting for the time when you finally see some action. The "I am always going to be a Jarhead" ending makes you wish for a deeper explanation as to why....more info
  • a REAL slice of "reality!"
    Since we all know what choreographed horse-dung most "reality" shows are these days, it is downright refreshing to watch a movie that skillfully conveys a time, a place, and a group of people as well as this film captures Gulf War One. You remember, the time we actually won, actually GOT "Mission Accomplished" with barely a few scratches (well, ok there were a few hundred casualties but 90% by accidents, friendly fire or by the one Scud missile that hit an Army barracks). Yes, THAT war---led by the elder Bush not his idiot son, and where our troops were truly greeted as liberators.

    Problem was, for the boots on the ground, Gulf War One was really one long tedious slog leading up to a total anti-climax. The only American combat personnel to really see much action were the air force, who did most of the work ahead of the ground forces. Oh, were all wars for oil so easy and painless! Sam Mendes, director of the highly acclaimed "American Beauty," does a fine job of capturing exactly what that experience was like, mostly from the perspective of a brighter-than-average 20 year recruit played by Jake Gyllenhaal, a slightly absurdist anti-hero who quickly regrets his decision to volunteer which he later describes as, "I got lost on the way to college."

    Yes there are allusions to other classic war movies, and there are a number of parallels with the movie that the Boston Globe critic Jay Carr correctly called "the greatest war movie of all time:" Stanley Kubrick's masterful "Full Metal Jacket" which this movie predictably cannot match. Yet it is far from a failure, as some reviwers have claimed---Mendes has achieved enough clout and independence as a filmmaker to not have to pander to the lowest common denominator audience's eternal desire for easily recognizable good guys, bad guys, and uplifting endings. What we get instead is a vivid and generally very entertaining portrait of men trained and then thrown into a war that actually wasn't much of a war.

    Mendes certainly does share some subtle anti-war sentiments, but that does not prevent him from admiring the devotion that men develop for their fellow soldiers, which is the one thing that keeps them in battles that they often know are totally absurd and unnecessary, and keeps them from rebelling against commanding officers, generals and politicians who usually have far more ego than intelligence. He also does a fine job of exposing the viewer to the very unglamorous realities of military daily life and military culture and the animalistic group dynamics that develop between young men thrown together into that type of environment.

    So those viewers looking for a nice kiss-the-flag exercise in sentimental patriotism will surely be disappointed, as will those violence junkies hoping to see some satisfying combat scenes---there really aren't any. Mendes goes to great pains to NOT commercialize or cosmetize violence, and this is perhaps the reason why he has been accused of making a "cold" and "distanced" film in some quarters. For instance, he chooses to show us the charred and smoking aftermath of the "Highway of Death" massacre in which US aircraft slaughtered thousands of Iraqis fleeing Kuwait ahead of the American invasion instead of the actual massacre itself. What many viewers and reviewers seem to overlook is that in this day and age, with our modern air-based weaponry, much of war itself IS very much "cold" and "distanced"---at least the wars that we still win quickly and convincingly.

    "Jarhead" is most enjoyable if you have some appetite for dark and absurdist humor, and do not insist that every movie have the same predictable Hollywood 3-act plot lines and focus-group hooks. Yes there are a few somewhat clunky moments but there are also some exquisitely bittersweet ones, such as when a Vietnam USMC vet hops on the homecoming bus for the returning soldiers and tries in vain to bond with them. A Steven Spielberg or other such director would not have been able to resist turning that into some tear-jerking, crowd-pleasing ending---Mendes has the cojones and the artistic integrity to just tell it like it is, even if the audience would much prefer to get their rocks off through the usual tricks and cliches....more info
  • no action,no bloodshed ....boo hoo hoo hooooo
    I saw this movie in theatres,and had a great time.Since I live in a small military town,I was completely surrounded by marines thus making my movie watching that much more enjoyable.I thought the acting was great,and the fact that they didn't get to shoot anything or anyone was brilliant absolutely brilliant in my opinion.When i saw Saving Private Ryan,that to me,that was what real war was like,but every war is different.The fact that something like this really did happen gets me.I am so glad I'm not a male....more info
  • NO PLOT!
    This may well have been a documentary of marine life, but to make a movie, it requires you have a plot. A definite purpose to the story. There WAS NO STORY! The lead character shed no blood, saw no action, except for the sex with his girlfriend, and the only time he fired his weapon was during TARGET PRACTICE! There, now you know the entire jist of the movie and you were not bored to death for two hours like I was!...more info
  • Hypnotic, But Lacking Substance
    JARHEAD recounts author Anthony Swofford's personal journey through the First Iraqi War of the early 1990s. Based on his bestselling book of the same name, the movie marches through his experiences from boot camp to the deserts of Iraq, from the uncertainty of being accepted by the Marines to losing his girlfriend to a "Jody" to the harsh realities of civilian losses strewn all around him. The movie is a hard and unflinching look at that war, and at the men involved in it.

    Sam Mendes (AMERICAN BEAUTY) directed. Jake Gyllenhaal stars as Swoff, the principal character, but it's Peter Sarsgaard's protrayal of Troy and Jamie Foxx's no-nonsense approach to Staff Sergeant Sykes that really steal the show.

    Although off to a rather rocky beginning, with the immediate comparison of Swoff's drill instructor to the one in FULL METAL JACKET, JARHEAD moves quickly into its own rhythm. The narrative and pacing of the movie is extremely well done and becomes totally hypnotic. I found myself watching with rapt attention. Swoff became very real to me, as did Troy. Jamie Foxx turned in a stellar portrayal of Staff Sergeant Sykes, showing a depth of acting that he isn't often given a chance to do. He came across as hard, but in one-on-one moments with Swoff, he revealed the dichotomy inherent, I think, in most professional soldiers: they love what they do, but they're appalled by it at the same time, and even more confused by their love of it.

    Despite the direction and the acting, though, the substance of the movie seems to be lacking. The emotion doesn't exactly come out of nowhere at the end, but it definitely goes nowhere. I know that this is how many of the soldiers felt at the end of that war, but I think it would have helped if we'd gotten to know the characters a little more deeply. Troy was getting kicked out of the Marines, but why? Peter Sarsgaard earned a lot of sympathy from me, but I still don't know what he lied about, or why the military felt compelled to kick him out after he was such a good Marine. That lack of knowledge really hurt at the end of the movie.

    The HD DVD release offers extremely intense video presentation. The images are clear and sharp, well-defined. However, even though the sound separation is done well for surround sound systems, it isn't uncompressed. With a killer soundtrack laying down the score, the high-def fans willing to buy an enriched product even if they'd already owned a copy of the movie should have gotten that enrichment all the way around.

    JARHEAD is definitely worth a look from military movie fans, but it's not something that's going to completely satisfy. Perhaps guys who have actually been over there during the wars will get more out of it, but I just ended up with more questions....more info
  • Doesn't Represent the Marines I Know
    I read the book and thought that a movie about Desert Shield/Desert Storm would be interesting. The special effects and photography were great. especially the scenes of the famous destroyed cars and busses of the poor folks who attempted to flee Kuwait and the burning oil wells. The war and the locale is probably pictured accurately but the Marine unit personnel portrayed in the movie didn't act like any of the soldiers, Marines, and sailors I had the privilege to serve with for 22 years. The guys in the movie were a bunch of Hollywood sterotyped animals. They constantly fought among themselves and seemed to have IQ's that seldom exceeded 80. The "why am I here?" theme for the "hero" of this wasted evolution goes on and on ad nauseum. It was difficult to have any degree of pride for this collection of disorganized misfits and if this is the Marine Corps of the 1990's and beyond God save us. If you want to see soldiers, officers, and Sargeants as they actually are, please watch WE WERE SOLDIERS. ...more info
  • Excellent movie even for those who don't like war movies!
    Who would think that little old feminine me would watch war movies....well, one thing I am, thanks to being a genealogist and having studied the behaviors of my ancestors, is patriotic. My husband is very patriotic as well...and I suppose maybe that is a 1940's mentality rare to find among 30-something's in this day and age. We rented this movie and I have to say that the acting was great, the characters were believeable, and it was an eye-opener into the emotions of those fighting overseas. While I lay on the bed with a fan blowing on me, post-dinner, someone is laying in a sand hole right now to preserve what our country stands for. I have a newfound respect for Jamie Fox - I have always loved his humor, and loved him in "Collateral" but with this film and his portrayal of Ray Charles in "Ray" he has truly shown how he has come into maturity as an actor. How anyone could not like this film...I would tend to think they must be so opposed to the war going on now that they are pre-biased. Two thumbs up! Will definitely look for the Collector's Edition....more info
  • The Best in War Movies
    What a Jarhead!.... This movie is a must see for people who like the US Army in a show of Self destruction in a far away land. ...more info
  • Really wants to be Apocalypse Now...
    If you want a war move that probes the depths of madness and incorporates surerealism while exploring the lives of soldiers trapped in a pointless microcosm of a wider war, you have two options. Get a pretty lame and boring variation on this theme in Jarhead, or get Apocalypse Now. The later is the infinitely better choice. ...more info
  • A Mom's Opion...
    I ordered this for my son & I watched it the other day & I won't go into long details seeing there are plenty already,there are a few pretty funny bit's & some naked Butt shot's which was ok by me,but I must say it wasn't what I expected it to be,if U can get it for a buck or less it might be good just for a few laughs as long as U don't mind hearing the word Masturbation about 50 times.....more info
  • An actual NEW good film? Can't be possible can it???
    Jarhead (based on the 2003 best selling book by real life marine Anthony Swofford) is a haunting war film, but with a twist. When I say twist, I don't mean in a Sixth Sense sort of way. This is entirely different, and for those who followed Desert Storm as it was happening, it probably won't come as a twist at all. While I don't really want to go into the logistics of the direction this movie takes, I will say that Jarhead is more of a soldier's story than an all-out war picture.

    In this dramatic and often darkly funny offering from American Beauty and Road to Perdition director Sam Mendes, Jake Gyllenhaal plays Swoff, a confused twenty year old who enlists in the Marines during Desert Storm because he more or less has nothing better to do. After rigorous training, Swoff quickly bonds with his fellow soldiers who gleefully refer to their military endeavor as "the suck." Perfectly fitting given where these men are headed. And where Desert Storm takes them is one of the most interesting aspects of this truly original look into a side of war you may never imagined.

    Sam Mendes likes to make complicated films about complicated people and Jarhead is certainly no different in that regard. As a result, this film will most certainly divide audiences. Why? That isn't an easy question to answer, but for starters, I have no doubt that there will be some who are offended by the idea that the men involved in the "Police Action" of Mendes' film suffer similar fates to those who have fought in bigger more romantic wars. But in a way, that's the whole point of this movie. War is hell regardless of the size of the battle.

    There are several moments of undeniable power in the film, none more so than a moving sequence in which a Vietnam Vet welcomes a bus full of Marines home from Desert Storm. This particular scene is made all the more powerful because of the vastly different wars these men have been involved in.

    The marketing campaign for Jarhead is slightly deceptive. From the get go, Mendes sort of baits the audience into thinking that they know exactly where this movie is headed. As the film opens, we are even treated to a sequence in which an abrasive, gung ho drill sergeant practically beats (literally) the rules of war into Swoff's head, in what could be best described as an ode to Full Metal Jacket's bigger than life R. Lee Ermey. The war film references don't stop there. There's also nods to the likes of Apocalypse Now and Deer Hunter (a film I will never be able to watch in the same way again after seeing the way it's used in Jarhead) and the movie does have a tone that recalls David O. Russell's Three Kings, but Mendes ultimately takes Jarhead in a much different direction. The irony is, that while the journey itself is different, the outcome is virtually the same.

    Given that Jarhead revolves around the war theme, and more to the point, those who fight in a war, it may come as a surprise that the movie isn't necessarily anti-war or pro-war. It's somewhere in between. Jarhead isn't so much a political statement as it is a unique glimpse into a side of war that I've certainly never seen depicted in a film.

    Anchoring the movie is Jake Gyllenhaal (Donnie Darko) who continues to mature as an actor with each passing performance. His Swoff is a compelling young man with layers upon layers of complexity, and Gyllenhaal is dramatic, vulnerable and extremely lively in the role. The rest of the cast is stellar. Peter Sarsgaard (Kinsey, Flight Plan) is extremely effective as Troy, the voice of reason in the field. Every time things begin to get out of hand, Troy is there to rectify the situation. Jaime Foxx lends his usual likable demeanor chewing up the scenery as an energetic sniper platoon leader. The rest of the actors who make up the sniper platoon are perfectly cast (they include Sling Blade's Lucas Black), and all are given a chance to shine individually, but it is the way they play off one another that really make the film tick. This cast has genuine chemistry. They truly come across as a brotherhood.

    As Mendes films go, Jarhead didn't leave the same impression on me that American Beauty and Road to Perdition did., but it's still an exceptional film and takes this particular genre in to uncharted territory. It's well acted, well written, and well shot, and even though it's completely different than I thought it would be, I admire and respect it for it's patience and it's unique vision. While Jarhead may be about the "suck," I'm happy to report that it doesn't suck at all. It is yet another masterful title on Mendes' small but impressive resume.
    ...more info
  • waste of time and money
    this is the worst movie about the marines or war that i have ever seen. i waited and waited and waited for something to happen......and it never did. jamie fox is wrong in this roll; not convincing in the least. and the rest of the cast were good, but they did nothing throughout the entire movie. i'd say the best part of the movie is when the lead charachted is getting it on with his girlfriend. that's about it. ...more info
  • A Singular Experience--Not A Modern War Epic
    I knew from the start that "Jarhead" had the potential to be a polarizing film. Any time you address a contemporary and controversial political topic--you end up with reviews at both ends of that political spectrum. In other words, it's generally a love it or hate it proposition. It's either genius or its crap. After the film received decidedly mixed reviews upon its release, it's not something I rushed out to see. However, to my amazement, the film is surprisingly apolitical. It's a simple tale with a few observations about the nature of modern warfare, but no real message.

    I see most of the negative reviews posted here disparage the film because it's not a war film. True enough, but that doesn't complete negate the movie either. I do think that the film works as a character study, a slice of life. It was interesting to me how the expectations of what the experience would be like were thwarted with what this team actually encountered. The boredom, insecurity and need to feel a part of something important are a valid statement. After all, this was basically one guy's experience. And "Jarhead" is successful enough at showcasing that one element.

    Now, I will admit the talent associated with the film led me to believe that this would be an "important" film. It doesn't have the flair and audacity of "Three Kings," for example. It's a more mundane story that shows a different aspect of battle, or lack thereof. It may not be what you're expecting--but that doesn't always make it bad. And it's definitely a well made picture with some amusing moments and some good performances.

    "Jarhead" is a compelling study of a disaffected youth in a profession he questions. The story is not uncommon. In this case, though, the backdrop just happens to be Iraq. KGHarris, 10/06.
    ...more info
  • Too bad it wasn't more pro-war
    Hate the war but love the soldier...or at least try to understand how good men can willingly be turned into killers who will shoot whatever they are told to.
    Jarhead seems to move back and forth between pointing out how the military is designed to create mindless, order-following killing machines, and then examining soldiers' frustration at not killing anyone. The scene with them cheering the battle scenes in Apocalypse Now is ironic in the extreme.
    The narrative moves well, even during the war-is-hellish-boredom parts. What lifts this film to a higher level are Gyllenhall's excellent performance (along with Foxx and most everyone else) and the stunning cinematography of the second half.
    The flaming oil fields and their resultant chaos are grippingly weird, making a strong but silent point about why we send our kids to die halfway around the world for the benefit of rich old men who don't give a damn about them. This film succeeds when it lets you get inside the heads of certain characters who have stopped thinking but can't stop feeling; it rarely judges the soldiers, instead showing their humanity and confusion when turned into automatons.
    My father was in the military, and he made me promise never to enlist, saying, "Their goal was to make me stop thinking completely. If we thought about it, why would we want to kill fathers and brothers and sons who are just like us, but born somewhere else?"
    Thus the term "jarhead"; the jar is emptied of Christian compassion for every one of God's children, and refilled with bloodlust.
    This is a much more subtle film in many ways, despite its graphic nature, than most reviewers here want to accept. The scene with the horse is absolutely perfect, saying so much with a simple, heart-breaking picture.
    Life isn't always "you're with us or against us"; sometimes it's "you're with us until we don't need you any more." Jarhead does a good job of making that and many other points.

    ...more info
  • Desert wait
    From my time in the Navy, I always knew Marines were crazy characters. This movie validates that! There's nothing like macho and usually morbid Marine Corps humor to get me laughing, and this film offers a great deal of that!

    This is what I could call a somewhat unconventional war movie. Most of the film is centered around Operation Desert Shield. Instead of most war movies where we see charcters trying to accomplish a particular objective(s) while encased in the fog of war, this movie approaches war from a different angle. It's mostly about the anticipation of fighting was Saddam Insane called the "Mother of all battles" (a battle which, of course, never did materialize).

    Instead of dodging bombs & bullets, the Marines have to deal with 6 months of tedious drills, getting Dear John letters, worrying about getting Dear John letters, having their nerves frayed by living in close-quarters with others, coping with the harsh desert environment and having to overcome the sheer boredom of it all.

    The movie does a good job of depicting just how mundane it can be to be a soldier on the supposed "front lines" in this day & age. The Marine Snipers in the movie were among the first to land in Saudi Arabia, and yet they only get to flirt with actual combat duties. There is certainly an irony in that.

    Jamie Fox portrays one of those gung-ho Marine Staff Sergeants who it's easy to poke fun at. While I was in the Navy there was a running joke that 20 years of sea duty turned men's minds to mush. Sailors start to actually worship the Navy after all of that time deployed, and the military becomes a sort of obession. Looks like the same sort of thing happens in the other services as well!

    If you want a "traditional" war movie, this one may not be for you. One of the scenes, just before the Marines were deployed, showed them watching APOCOLYPSE NOW in a theatre. I believe that scene was put in to show the contrast between a "dramatic" war movie & what the real-life ordeal of a soldier would be like in Desert Storm.

    If you're a fan of military movies in general or if you have been in the military, I believe you'll find this movie to your liking. It's not a great movie, but it is a curious one....more info
  • Insulting to all War veterans
    My husband is a Vietnam vet and we watch all the war movies. We love Saving Private Ryan, We were Soldiers, Platoon. They are real war movies. This movie was just filth. It insults all marines to think that this is the way they act. We were very disappointed with the movie and I am upset I spent the money on it. If you want to watch a good war movie, try any of the three I mentioned above. And don't forget to pray for our troops....more info


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