I had the fortune to be able to watch this shortly after it came out, when I was probably way too young for it. Having never seen a war movie like it, I thought it was literally the best one ever. Now that I've watched many more, I see that there are a lot of other films with a clearer point of view, that execute their ideas more effectively. Platoon, Apocalypse Now, and Casualties of War are just a few specifically about the experience IN Vietnam that all do it better. Everyone agrees that where this film really stands out is in the first 45 minutes: boot camp. (More review about the film in general here: https://letterboxd.com/nottheacademy/film/full-metal-jacket/)
JetSetWilly attempts to distract from the massive drop-off in quality through 2 major changes. Firstly, editing the boot camp scenes into the rest of the film as flashbacks. Secondly, cutting some of the boot camp scenes. While it's arguable if the first move is effective, the second decision is definitely a mistake. It's like saying "You know what would make Star Wars better? Less lightsaber fighting." When you cut down the boot camp sequences, you're just increasing the percentage of the film that's not as good, which makes the film overall not as good. It also disrupts the narrative in seeing the deterioration of Pvt. Pyle, who now seems to go from incompetent screwup to deadly psychopath literally overnight.
The stylistic choice of black & white for the boot camp was okay for me, but several of the visual transitions were uneven. The audio was pretty great though, including (as mentioned by another reviewer) using "Satisfaction". I'd debate exactly where these edits should be placed though. It's hard to tell with the boot camp material being shorter, but it feels like it's still too front-loaded and the ending section in Hue continues for this long, unbroken, almost boring stretch. Honestly, thematically this film resolves in the boot camp storyline, and if you're splicing the timelines together, this doesn't accomplish the goal. I think what WOULD do it is
You start with "These Boots Are Made For Walking", as JSW brilliantly did. Then let much of the early war play out as normal. As the film goes, increasingly cut back more and more to boot camp. I think there are enough scenes with close-ups on Pvt. Joker's face to freeze there and crossfade to boot camp, as if he's remembering/haunted. This culminates in Hue where he's prowling through the building looking for the sniper. Cut to him on patrol at boot camp and finding Pyle in the bathroom. Cut back to him faced with the sniper and his gun jams. Cut back to the drill instructor coming into the bathroom and berating Pyle . Cut back to Hue where Rafterman saves Joker and Joker is faced with putting the girl out of her misery. Cut back to Pyle shooting himself. Cut back to Joker shooting the girl. Roll credits.
This film tries to strengthen the film by spreading out its best parts, but it actually lessens it by cutting those parts and not connecting them to the main narrative. Sadly, I can't recommend it as an alternative viewing, because I don't think watching it this way really improves the experience at all. There's potential here for a V2 though.
First off, my only real criticism of this edit is the black and white filter on the flashbacks (oh, and the omission of certain scenes.) Now, there's nothing wrong with B&W, but it just seems wholly unnecessary in this case. I just can't see anyone watching a fan edit before having seen the original, and even if they did, I just have my doubts that there would be any confusion over which scenes preceded the others chronologically, provided they also forgot to read what was changed in the edit. Unlikely, in other words. Other than that, the edit is fine; just about exactly what was advertised. What it mainly managed to do was show me that I was incorrect in thinking the second portion of the film is on par with the first. In my now majority, then minority, opinion, it's not. In fact, it slightly lowered my opinion of the film. I still like Full Metal Jacket though, and I like this edit.
*Nothing in this review is meant as a personal attack on the editor. This is just one guy's opinion. Any criticism(s) are meant to be constructive feedback for the editor.*
I like Full Metal Jacket, but to me it was always essentially two movies. The first movie being the basic training and Pyle's arc. The second movie being Joker in Vietnam. JSW came up with a unique way to change the narrative and I think it works.
The title fonts worked well (as for as I can tell it's the same font as the title cards in the theatrical version). However the fonts used to indicated place and time (i.e. Da Nang 1968) looked to me a little tacky/amateurish, this is just my opinion though.
The first dissolve to the flashback of the introduction of the Drill Instructor was a bit abrupt IMO, however the subsequent dissolves throughout the remainder of the edit were excellent!
The audio work, for the most part the audio editing was spot on. And the inclusion of "Satisfaction" worked well. The only thing I noticed, worth pointing out, is around the 37:08 mark, during the black screen, you can faintly hear the sound of a trumpet (remnants of another seen i'm assuming). I didn't notice any other problems though.
The black and white was also well executed. Sometimes people change stuff to black and white and it ends up looking crappy, this was definitely not the case here.
Lastly, one subjective thing regarding the narrative. This has nothing to do with the technical aspects of the edit, but I would have liked to have seen one other flashback of Pyle's transformation before the last flashback culminating in the murder/suicide.
Overall this edit was prettay, prettay, prettay good. While it doesn't improve on the original, it is definitely an alternate version that is worth seeing.
Kubrick is my all-time favorite director and I absolutely love Full Metal Jacket how it is. JetSetWilly's idea for this edit has intrigued me since he first started working on it. I've watched (I think) every iteration JSW made and helped him out along the way.
This is an excellent example of re-editing a great movie to see what could have been. The dual story lines are marvelous told this way, intercutting boot camp with war. The editor chose the exact right moments to cut back and forth without having one segment drag on. The editing was smooth and this makes for a great viewing!
It's not better than the original, but it's not trying to be. Highly recommended.