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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 20.91%
Average: 10%
Pretty Bad: 1.82%
Total Crap: 5.45%

7 reviews, 68 user ratings

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Apocalypse Now Redux
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by Jason Whyte

"Francis Ford Coppola's finest hour has been fully and beautifully restored."
5 stars

Let me be blunt for a moment. I find "Apocalypse Now" to be the greatest film ever made. To me, this film represents the absolute best that filmmaking can achieve; that the medium can capture not only a time and a place, but also the feeling, the emotions of the characters, animate or not. Space was a character in Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey" that unlocked mankind's secrets, and Jimmy Stewart in "Rear Window" had a whole world around him that he spied on. These are my other two favorite films, and in "Apocalypse Now," war was the character of the film and how the humans responded to it. How this film bettered anything I have ever seen before was how director Francis Ford Coppola adapted, as close as he could, Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness" and yet couldn't decide the path he could take. Years later, even with this new expanded edition, entitled "Apocalypse Now Redux", I still don't think Coppola has done it. And that's what so fascinating about it. I like directors showing their work as they see it.

How could anyone not get a chill from the opening shot of the film, where the first sound we hear is a slow moving helicopter passing behind us. We see swaying trees for a moment, and then we realize we are in Vietnam as Jim Morrison is singing "This is the end/my only friend/the end." The screen lights up with napalm explosions, filling the wide screen with amber glow. This dissolves to Willard (Martin Sheen) in an upside-down shot in his hotel room in Saigon, narrating to us listeners of how his life has changed from his experiences in Vietnam. What follows is one of the most heartbreaking "breakdown" scenes ever put on film, even more so because this shit really happened to troops.

Willard is assigned to locate Colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando), who has went crazy in the forests of Cambodia. A Colonel with pretty much everything going for him, Kurtz has set up a compound and is rumored to have went completely insane. Willard is sent on a boat with a skeleton crew, and his journey leads him to Colonel Kilgore (Robert DuVall), which leads to the film's most famous sequence (and my personal favorite), as Kilgore leads an attack on a Vietnamese Village set to Wagner's "Die Walkure - Ride of the Valkyries." The sheer audacity of this sequence is unforgettable. (Home Theater and DVD fans also use this sequence as demo material.)

There's an interesting mystery to Colonel Kilgore himself. Although he only has a few scenes around this attack sequence, he wants nothing more than his troops as his friends. He felt it was better to encourage his troops and hang out with him, rather than belittle them with typical boss attitude. (When Kilgore watches a man suffer from a stomach wound, he removes his water bottle and quips: "A man who takes one in the gut may drink from my canteen anyday!") He also loves to surf, and following the village attack, he has some of his troops ride on the waves as Charlie fires bombs in the water. "Charlie Don't Surf!"

Much has been discussed about the film's final passages; many ignorant have called it "pointless," "meandering," even "woozy." For me, these sequences go right back to Conrad/Coppola's vision of how bleak humanity can become. And there's the Photo Journalist (Dennis Hopper), all drugged out, reciting long, winded out tirades of dialogue that only a drugged out jouranlist would do (not that that's ever happened to me or anything).

As for the restoration, there's roughly 45 minutes of added footage here, culled together from old elements. There's extended footage of the surfing sequences, playboy bunny sequences and even towards the end, where Kurtz reads to Willard. However, the most controversal inclusion is the French Plantation sequence, where Willard and his men run into these plantationers and visit them for dinner; Willard falling for a woman there who hardly knows any english, and winds up having sex with her. Now, I don't want to complain, but this entire segment lasts nearly 25 minutes and has a dragging effect on the overall scope of the picture. What was once a staggering 147 minutes gets dragged out into 200 minutes. Still, the added footage is in good company.

There's also a new soundtrack. "Apocalypse Now" still remains the best sounding film of all time, both in its staggering magnetic and digital forms, but also in how the use of sound makes us a character along in the never ending boat ride, or those infamous choppers screaming all over the room. This is a film you bother the projectionist to make sure all the digital equipment is hooked up.

You could never make a film like "Apocalypse Now" today. Well, you couldn't make a "2001" or "Rear Window" today either, as audiences are succumbing to the poorly written scripts, the overpaid actors, the quick editing and the mass release printing. You CAN make an awful war film like "Pearl Harbor" since it has big names and the advertising backs it up. "Apocalypse Now" has none of this. It doesn't feel like it is a film out to make a profit, and all of Coppola's 70's films are high profile ideas that are well written and concieved, and have something to say. Oh, how I long for the decade when Coppola was a gifted filmmaker (keep in mind he's the helm behind Robin Williams in "Jack", one of the WORST films ever made).

There have been times where I can't sleep, or when I stare out a bus window or stare blindly at the wall at a boring movie. What happens in those moments? Do we "Zen" out and ponder the meaning of life, or do we come up with crazy questions like "Can god create an object that even he can not move?".

Conrad's words and Coppola's vision knows these feelings and incorporates them into this visual fire of energy that unfolds like a madman, every little adventure and occurance having a deeper meaning than the next. Coppola stops no punches in proving that we all have a little darkness in us. To an extent, that's a good thing. Man has to take that walk down the dark alley at midnight at some point in his or her life, it's nature. God built us to feel bad and good, because without it, well...

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originally posted: 08/15/03 17:26:09
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User Comments

10/30/16 morris campbell some of the added footage is good but stick with the original cut 3 stars
6/08/10 Flathead King The first hour is brilliant but the ending is disappointing as it lacks clarity. 4 stars
7/04/09 Monday Morning Disappointing. Dated. Platoon and Full Metal Jacket were better (but depressing too). 3 stars
3/25/09 Saint Subversive the added footage should have remained as DVD extras, it kills the film's timing 5 stars
8/30/08 Shaun Wallner The Action was Amazing! 5 stars
6/22/08 yoda Traveling up the river, traveling back through time, to the heart of darkness 5 stars
6/18/07 Bilemobuma Obireke I wonder what the US govt was thinking when they went to war with Vietnam in the movie 4 stars
5/18/07 Nash it's as good a war movie as anything. and kurtz couldn't, and shouldn't, be anything else 5 stars
2/17/07 mb Empty Movie ... nothing but darkness here 1 stars
1/15/07 David Pollastrini best viewed while stoned 4 stars
1/29/06 Reklc Anti war acid trip, very well done! 5 stars
8/06/05 Pierre The definitive version of Coppola's masterpiece! 5 stars
8/05/05 Moctezuma Apocalypse Wow 5 stars
8/04/05 Ducky The deleted scenes destroyed the movies original beauty 2 stars
5/27/05 Jake Gives more depth to an already brilliant masterpiece 5 stars
4/13/05 Indrid Cold Doesn't quite carry the weight that it pretends to, but still very well done. 4 stars
12/07/04 Kurt Cobain The Original Version is Better, This one is too overlong. 4 stars
11/19/04 Michelle Rose fantastic modern approch to the novella Heart of Darkness 5 stars
11/16/04 Mel K. way beyond fun....but a must-see 5 stars
10/20/04 eugene what the fuck is wrong with Kurtz 1 stars
10/19/04 theo stevens undoubtedly the most pompous, self-important movie ever made? 3 stars
10/15/04 alex the best movie ever made! 5 stars
9/08/04 Cameron Cubbison This is the dumbest, most overrated movie of all time. Nothing happens! 1 stars
8/27/04 Aaron Smith Terrible; depressing. Worst movie I've ever seen. 1 stars
6/25/04 Karen Stockdale The most atmospheric war film ever....oh the horror, the horror..... 5 stars
5/06/04 Peter Pisanko Fucken A. The Horror. The Horror. 5 stars
4/19/04 Living Tribunal "Redux" destroys the grim tone & relentless pace of the original 5 stars
3/17/04 Spiderfan729 I read Heart of Darkness and I can safely say this is too long and boring!!! 2 stars
12/07/03 R.W. Welch Should have left well enough alone. Original cut is easily better. 4 stars
11/27/03 John oh my god it IS better 5 stars
10/04/03 Nasty_Gnorc More hours means more greatness 5 stars
7/02/03 Jack Bourbon We see why the original was edited as it was when we see "Redux." 5 stars
4/22/03 Jon "Thumb the Toad" Lyrik Decent recut, but some new scenes are pointless and slightly dull. Original is still better 4 stars
1/26/03 Jack Sommersby Some of the extra scenes enhance, others just diminish. As flawed as its always been. 3 stars
11/28/02 Zack W. Young Brilliant remake of the film I never thought could be improved. 5 stars
10/04/02 The Man Original would be 5 stars, but Redux was unnecessary 3 stars
5/28/02 Phoenix This version offers more insight to a already classic film. 5 stars
5/16/02 Monster W. Kung A little less surreal and different from the original. Still awesome. 5 stars
3/25/02 far-out one of my all-time favorites 5 stars
3/13/02 rue the whirl i would have rather seen these scenes as DVD extras. the original is superior 4 stars
1/19/02 Magnum Craphole Makes 'Full Metal Jacket' look like a walk in the park. 5 stars
1/18/02 daniboy mindblowing 5 stars
12/29/01 The Man Worth seeing only as a novelty, but many new scenes don't work. The original is far better 4 stars
12/10/01 Aiken Drum Smells like....... Coppola 5 stars
12/05/01 john linton roberson Worth seeing, but only after the original. 4 stars
11/27/01 Pierce Lanson Everyone's insane, and Coppola does it brilliantly 5 stars
11/25/01 viking gets better every time you see it. 5 stars
11/16/01 matthew smith a mindblowing experience 5 stars
11/14/01 Zizzerzazzerzuzz I think it's actually better than the original, which was already a classic. 5 stars
10/17/01 Rob Z Redux Reminder of the plateaus of excel attainable thru film - All Bruckheimers take heed! 5 stars
10/06/01 jenn aguilar dead 5 stars
10/01/01 Lee Cone Completely mindblowing, fantastic 5 stars
9/09/01 Creel A great movie gets better 5 stars
9/06/01 Paulie Boy Director's Cut is better than original 5 stars
9/05/01 Dave improved. Opening scene and Wagner scene did not seem as powerful as the first time around 5 stars
9/01/01 jazzbox orders of magnitude better 5 stars
8/28/01 Mistah Kurtz "... He dead." 5 stars
8/28/01 grant welch hippies eat shit this movie is awesome. 5 stars
8/28/01 Stan Appel Restored footage adds nothing. Great film though! 5 stars
8/28/01 Artist Freak How can you not be swept up into this movie? Awesome performances, music, cinematography. 5 stars
8/27/01 spaceworm At last Kilgore gets what he ENTRANCE! 4 stars
8/24/01 David Dawes A monumentally brilliant work of art 5 stars
8/16/01 Piz Oh boy, talk about hype, this movie blows! 1 stars
8/14/01 shankster I still don't know if I like the added scenes. Some (i.e. Plantation) are distracting. 5 stars
8/14/01 sdfk Visually exciting, intensely disturbing, wonderful and gripping 5 stars
8/04/01 john klepper Heart of Darkness? Heart of Coppola? 5 stars
7/31/01 Girl 9 Yes I realize this is a classic, but it is still boring as hell! 1 stars
7/31/01 DMF Even better than the original which is my all-time favorite film. 5 stars
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  24-Aug-2001 (R)



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