Stanley Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket is slightly different to the vast majority of Vietnam War movies in a sense that the action does not fully take place in Vietnam but spends half the time at boot camp at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island. Full Metal Jacket follows a platoon of US Marines through the dehumanising and brainwashing effects of boot camp to the traumatic effects of the Vietnam War. Similarly to many other works of Kubrick, Full Metal Jacket is a dark satire but this time of war. The opening act at boot camp is darkly brutal but at the exact same time darkly funny. R. Lee Ermey (who plays Gunnery Sergeant Hartman) in his mostly improvised role, is fantastic delivering an endless array of quotable lines. The dehumanising effects and brainwashing that are clearly evident is disturbing and shocking as the marines are insulted and made to feel worthless. Much has been said that the first half is by far superior to the second half but this does not turn out to be entirely true. The second half is full of tension (the sniper sequence is excellent), expertly staged war sequences (the urban warfare sequences are intense) and some marvellous cinematography (which was actually shot in England). The performances are sensational, particularly from Vincent D'Onofrio and Matthew Modine, the soundtrack is awesome (featuring Nancy Sinatra and the Rolling Stones) and Kubrick's anti war film leaves you with one major message-War is hell.
Jodie Foster's third feature film is, shall we say, tackles depressions in a less than conventional way -though a beaver puppet. Mel Gibson stars as Walter Black a depressed individual who contemplates suicide is head of his father's former company which is on the verge of collapse and his family (wife and two kids) leave him due to his illness (surely a loving family would attempt to help through this rather than just leaving him?). As Walter is on the brink his mind snaps and a talking beaver puppet (which sounds almost exactly like Ray Winstone) saves his life. Through this beaver puppet he is a completely different man. The Beaver is a dramedy, so this means Foster must balance the drama and comedy well enough for the film's more serious elements to become believable. To an extent Foster has done this as there a few laughs and some more serious moments along the way but some other aspects are quite hard to take seriously enough for them to be convincing. Mel Gibson's performance in the central role is terrific and Foster is decent support but the over-sentimental ending slightly damages things. The Beaver is a film that is reliant on the viewer's acceptance of the central plot if one cannot accept it than the film will fail in one's eyes.
Mexican director Alfonso Cuarón's (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban) film adaptation of P. D. James' novel (entitled The Children of Men) is a dark, dystopian tale of humanity in the near future. In the year 2035 every single human in the world is infertile. Theo (Clive Owen) is kidnapped by an immigrant rights group known as "The Fishes" whose leader is a former lover of Theo's named Julian Taylor (Julianne Moore) who seeks Theo's help in transporting an illegal immigrant to safety however this illegal immigrant harbours a miracle the world is in desperate need of. Children of Men is a gripping, emotionally engaging and thought provoking film that is helped considerably by one of Clive Owens's best performances, further fine performances of Moore and Michael Caine and Cuarón's exceptional storytelling. Its themes of hope, religion and immigration (some scenes are disturbingly similar to conditions in concentration camps also a fascist British government force feeds propaganda down the public's throats) are presented rather well. Occasionally the script allows the characters to make dramatic speeches in the heat of battle that somewhat takes us out of how realistic the proceedings feel but the innovative single shot action sequences are tense and the viewer's willingness for the success of Theo's mission result in Children of Men being a truly outstanding film.