Poll Results: Best Vietnam War Film

We had a pretty good turnout for this poll, and it resulted in a surprising tie:

apocalypse-now-posterthe-deer-hunter-poster

THE RESULTS:
– Apocalypse Now: 11 votes
– The Deer Hunter: 11 votes
– Full Metal Jacket: 8 votes
– Platoon: 6 votes
– Born on the Fourth of July: 2 votes
– Good Morning, Vietnam: 2 votes
– Coming Home: 1 vote
– Hamburger Hill: 1 vote
– We Were Soldiers: 1 vote

I guess my initial prediction of Apocalypse Now and Platoon finishing 1-2 was way off here. Did not expect so many fans of The Deer Hunter to show up, but I’m not complaining. That is a hell of a film right there. Nice to see a handful of others get some votes as well.

This Week’s Poll: Sticking with movies this week, I thought it would be fun to take a look back at Matthew McConaughey’s career. The man has had an impressive resurgence lately, and it had me thinking about some of his best roles. What are your TWO favorite Matthew McConaughey movies? Are you a fan of his early work, a la Dazed and Confused and A Time to Kill? Did you enjoy his romcom period? Or are some of his recent films already on your list of favorites?

Have a great week, folks!

Hamburger Hill [1987]

Hamburger Hill [1987]

Hamburger Hill [1987]
Directors: John Irvin
Genre: Drama/War/Action
Language: English
Country: USA

As one of countless late 80’s Vietnam War movies, Hamburger Hill unfortunately became overlooked by many. Employing a cast of relative unknowns at the time, including many first major roles for some later established stars (Don Cheadle, Dylan McDermott, Courtney Vance, Steven Weber), John Irvin’s directorial effort tells the tale of a U.S. Army platoon’s battle to obtain control of the mountain known as Hill 937 (also: ‘Hamburger Hill’). This is a true story of what became a bloody 10-day assault, one that caused massive casualties for both American and North Vietnamese forces. This portrayal has frequently been named one of the most realistic war movies ever made.

While many similar genre movies at the time were about the broad scope of war, Hamburger Hill focuses entirely on the soldiers themselves. There are fourteen men in this platoon, and although character development is kept to a minimum for most of them, the film effortlessly shows the strong sense of camaraderie amongst the troops. These are men who are fighting off racial tensions that are increased by the stresses of war, all the while trying to keep morale as high as possible. This is painfully difficult to do, however, when the soldiers keep hearing what’s happening back home. “Long haired hippies” are throwing bags of dog shit at returning soldiers, parents of deceased troops are receiving hate mail, and one soldier’s girlfriend has told him that she will no longer be sending him letters because her college friends told her it is immoral. I found the tales of stories back home to be fascinating, although some may be quick to dismiss this as “anti-anti-war.”

Hamburger Hill does a great job of making you feel like you are there in the middle of the action, and it truly excels at showing the brotherly bond inside the platoon. While the movie overall does not really break any new ground, the banter and stories told by the characters are well-written enough to keep interest in between the grueling action scenes. Although a step below the top tier of Vietnam War classics such as Platoon and Apocalypse Now, Hamburger Hill is definitely still worth seeing.

7.5/10

Call of Duty: Black Ops [Xbox 360, 2010]

Call of Duty: Black Ops [Xbox 360, 2010]

Call of Duty: Black Ops
System: Xbox 360
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Treyarch
Release Date: November 19, 2010

Just when I thought I was out… they pull me back in.

Another year, another Call of Duty. The latest edition is from Treyarch, who also made Call of Duty: World at War and COD 3. Black Ops is their first foray into “modern” warfare, although it takes place during the 60’s and addresses both the Vietnam War and the Cold War. I must say that I am quite happy Treyarch didn’t go back to “ol’ reliable” because the last thing we need is another World War II first person shooter. Although the modern warfare FPS genre is beginning to get a little saturated as well, Black Ops keeps it fresh by going into the 60’s.

The single player campaigns are beginning to become almost an afterthought in the Call of Duty series, but they are still typically a lot of fun to play through. Black Ops is no exception, and it follows the story of a soldier who is being interrogated about information that he cannot remember. You play through various events in his life, picking up on bits and pieces of memories as you go along. There is a big plot twist at the end, but anyone who has seen a select movie or two will know exactly where the story is going. The individual levels are solid and some are particularly memorable — I loved riding in on a boat and blasting everything on screen while “Sympathy for the Devil” by the Rolling Stones played. I was a little annoyed that picking up guns and ammunition is basically worthless since you are given new weapons for every level, but that is a minor inconvenience. The campaign isn’t as good as the two Modern Warfare titles, but it’s still worthy of at least one play through.

The reason the majority of gamers play COD games is for the multiplayer. The same basic online play is still here, but there are some notable differences. For one, this time around you have to purchase upgrades for your weapons rather than unlock them via leveling up. The money required to do so is earned by performing well during game sessions and by gaining XP. One cool new “wager” mode provides the ability to gamble these COD points in an attempt to get even more. Most of the old favorite game modes are still here, such as Deathmatch, Headquarters and Domination, just to name a few, and most of the perks/weapons are back as well. There are also some welcome new additions that are unlocked over time. What I like most about Black Ops’ multiplayer is that you can pretty much mold your character into what you want it to be right from the beginning. It may take some time to unlock your favorite weapon, but you can gain access to all of the available perks very quickly.

Since this is a Treyarch game, it should also be noted that the Zombies mode is still available, if you’re into that sort of thing. The Spec Ops mode introduced in Modern Warfare 2 is nowhere to be found.

Overall, I cannot deny that Black Ops is an incredibly well made game, and it is easily the best COD game that Treyarch has released yet. I still prefer the previous two Modern Warfare games, but this one is right up there with them. Although the single player campaign is the usual six hours in length, the multiplayer provides countless hours of gameplay, and the new COD points system adds a whole new dynamic. I know I am going to spend a lot of time with this one…

8.5/10