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Overlooked - You must be mad!
Member Name: richy77
Date: 05/05/02, updated on 05/05/02 (164 review reads)
Advantages: Excellent acting, Good storyline
Disadvantages: Not enough action, Too much swearing
Tigerland centres on the character of Private Roland Bozz, played by Colin Farrell. Bozz has reluctantly joined the army during the Vietnam War and is trying his best to get kicked out before he has to make the trip to Vietnam. Desperate to annoy his sergeants enough for them to get rid of him, he sets about trying to get a bad name. This behaviour also annoys his fellow soldiers who want Bozz kicked out of the army as well. Unfortunately for Bozz, his sergeants have taken a different approach to dealing with his unacceptable behaviour. They choose to ignore it and let his colleagues deal with it.
Tigerland?s strength is its character development. During some of the confrontations between Bozz and fellow soldiers, we realise that Bozz is not as uncaring as first impressions suggest. He simply doesn?t agree with war and doesn?t see why he should fight. At first, members of his platoon don?t agree with his ideas and think he is a rebel. In fact some of them take great offence because he doesn?t show any pride in serving his country. Gradually he makes friends, in particular with Jim Paxton (Matthew Davis). Paxton and Bozz become good friends and some of Bozz?s ideas rub off on his easily influenced friend.
Several incidents occur during the movie which means that Bozz ends up leading the platoon several days before the group?s visit to Tigerland. Tigerland is based in Louisiana and is the cruel training camp that all soldiers visit before going to Vietnam. The camp is designed to give a realistic view of what life in Vietnam is going to be like. At first, Bozz?s appointment as captain of the platoon is not received very well. Several members of the platoon refuse to work under him but gradually they grow to respect their leader. Obviously some members can never accept Bozz as their commander and this makes the movie even more compelling.
As mentioned before, Tigerland contains very little action. We never see the soldiers in Vietnam and the
only action scenes shown are some training exercises. For this reason any fans of action-packed war will be extremely disappointed and probably bored. What Tigerland does extremely well is to develop the characters in a way that means the audience cares about what happens to each character. At first Bozz seems like a very spoilt and ignorant person, but as the film progresses we learn that he is a lot more thoughtful than he first appeared. Tigerland has probably over ten main characters and during the movie we get to know about their backgrounds and their thoughts on fighting in the war. The treatment of the soldiers during training is wonderfully brought to the screen. I have seen several Vietnam films, but this one is probably one of the most accurate and gruelling portrayals of what soldiers had to go through before reaching Vietnam.
With a movie that is so character driven, you need good performances from your main actors. That?s exactly what you get in Tigerland. Colin Farrall is superb as Bozz. His performance is assured and confident. His character needs to be annoying at first but then respected as the movie progresses. Farrall does this expertly and to be honest this is necessary for the film to succeed. So much of the film is built around his character that to have had anyone less convincing in the lead role would have spoilt the movie. Matthew Davis also gives a strong performance as do most of the main actors.
At times Tigerland felt like a documentary. The picture quality is not great but that is intentional on the part of the director. Various different camera angles are used and the zooming in is sometimes quite amateurish!. This is all done on purpose though, to make the film look as rough as some of the surroundings the soldiers had to face. During some of the training sequences the camera manages to get right on top of the soldiers even though they are in bunkers. The film feels like it has been filmed with a heldheld camcorde
r, and this actually improves the impact of certain scenes.
One thing which I think could have improved the movie was the focus on Tigerland. Only about a quarter of the movie actually takes place there. This is a little disappointing, as the camp looked like a very gruelling period for the soldiers. It would have been interesting to see how Bozz inspired his platoon during difficult conditions. This is only a minor gripe though as the length of the movie is ideal. At just over ninety minutes the film never gives the audience the opportunity to get bored.
I suppose you are wondering why the movie has an 18 certificate if there is no violence during it. The main reason for the adult rating is that there is an awful lot of swearing. Sometimes it is a little over the top but if it were to be removed from the movie some of the impact would probably be lost. The film also deals with a fairly adult theme and some of the punishment that the soldiers have to take is disturbing.
I cannot recommend Tigerland enough. I normally like action packed movies but found Tigerland to be a fresh and riveting look at Vietnam. It a realistic and emotional journey through the lives of a bunch of soldiers prior to their assignment to Vietnam, which has not been tried before. Joel Schumacher gives us an insight into how people react in difficult times. The film may not be the most exciting war movie of recent times but it is certainly one of the most powerful and emotional.