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"Jarhead" A Worthless POS Or "Fairly Realistic"?

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While I haven't seen the movie myself -- and won't be after the commercials where it shows the main character standing there in a daze while bombs fall around him and the annoying "hoo rah" of Jamie Foxx -- there are those in the Blogosphere that have seen it and confirmed my suspicions. Hollywood, who seems to be against war so much, just can't resist trying to make bank off of it. It is based off the book Jarhead : A Marine's Chronicle of the Gulf War and Other Battles by Anthony Swofford, a Marine sniper during Gulf War I.

Rob at Say Anything says he enjoyed it:

But if what you’re looking for is a gritty, fairly realistic portrayal of the experiences of a modern soldier this will be a good one for you. At least, I assume it’s fairly realistic. I’m not a combat veteran so I can’t say for sure, but I certainly didn’t detect a lot of the usual Hollywood war movie B.S.

That's right, it's hard to judge when you're not a combat vet, so we head over to Outside the Beltway where James Joyner, a combat vet of Gulf War I, has this to say.

Indeed, I can scarcely enjoy movies or television shows with military themes because they seldom get even basic things, like haircuts and uniforms, right.

He goes on further in the comments about how unrealistic almost all military movies are, noting that Band of Brothers is probably the closest to the truth and which I feel as well, it was excellent.

To top it off we head to Donald Sensing of One Hand Clapping where he rips the movie on its lack of story and its fabrications.

Author Swafford was a Marine during the Gulf War of 1990-1991. He wrote the book several years after the war ended. ... The problem is that Swafford’s book is a significantly fictionalized account of his four-day war and so, of course, is the movie.


Jarhead fails to meet Alfred Hitchcock’s number one requirement for a good movie: “You have to have a story.” And Jarhead simply has no story. There never seems to be a point. This may work for a skillfully-crafted literary memoir (as apparently Swofford’s book was) but it simply doesn’t work at all for a motion picture. The audience’s attention is paced and pointed by the never-stopping moving images and sounds; they have no time to reflect or review.

He also brings up fabricated scenes in the movie such as this one:

Perhaps as a retired Army officer I am at a disadvantage since I sat there mentally scoffing at some of the baloney. Example: sniper Swafford and his spotter, Troy, return at nighttime from a mission to find their entire unit blasting loud rock music in the night, whooping it up and dancing nearly naked around a huge bonfire of burning desert battle-dress uniforms. The four-day war had just ended and the Marines, including NCOs, are stripping their DBDUs and burning them. “Don’t need these no more! Ain’t never coming back!” one shouts. (Ah, the irony….) Then they all start firing their weapons on full automatic into the air.

Well, ‘scuse me, but that’s just crapola. In fact, there was no “end of the war” to celebrate in such a manner, there was only a cessation of offensive operations by US forces at the end of four days. Units remained on full combat readiness footing for weeks after the day the screen Marines go stupid. Fighting continued, some of it very fierce. In fact, the biggest battle of Desert Storm was fought by the 24th Inf. Div. (Mech.) the next month.

In the end he gives it 3 "bayonets" out of 5, but only because of the visuals. Sensing has more in his comments at his entry. Are visuals with no story worth your $10? I don't think so. Reviews say it's a Full Metal Jacket wannabe. Well if that's the case, get Full Metal Jacket and leave this movie on the pile of unremarkable films where it belongs.

Go get Gunner Palace if you want reality in the combat zone of Iraq. It was excellent.

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Posted by Digger on November 5, 2005 12:48 PM (Permalink)

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