182: Apocalypse Now

Apocalypse Now (R) - 1979 - Runtime: 153 minutes
Starring: Martin Sheen, Robert Duvall, Laurence Fishburne, Marlon Brando
Director: Francis Ford Coppola

Of course I haven't seen this movie. It just never hit my radar. I've only heard quotes from the movie and nothing more. I really didn't know the plot or anything when I sat down to watch it. Which, I think, is the best way to approach these movies (The Godfather was exactly the same way for me and I feel like I have a healthy, objectionable viewpoint on that movie). It's a classic that mimics Joseph Conrad's classic Heart of Darkness story (something I have never read myself) that tries to dig into the depths of human suffering and war. I wouldn't say it's the best war movie (Platoon and Saving Private Ryan have something to say about that), but it's probably the best war-themed drama that's really not about war at all.

For those not in the know, like my dumb self, Benjamin Willard is commissioned with a secret mission to find Colonel Kurtz, a great figure in the Vietnam war who has gone rogue and has severed all communications with the army. Willard's mission is to take out Kurtz because he's beginning to be a liability. And along for the ride is a rag-tag group of kids to escort Willard into the deepest part's of the jungle. It's a classic tale about madness and war.

I was with the whole movie up until the end. I just wanted to kill myself during the last half hour! I enjoyed every bit of the crazy, effed-up things happening when they continually run into outposts along the river that is taking them to the heart of the jungle. The most memorable of all the characters they see along their journey is Robert Duvall's portrayal as the sadistic and maniacal Lieutenant Kilgore. The guy is so crazy that he blares "Ride of the Valkyries" from the helicopters before bombing the crap out of places and after touchdown decides he needs to surf before the whole area is cleared of enemy targets. It's quite memorable and obviously the most quoted part of the whole movie.

Like I said earlier, the movie is fantastic, it's just that I thought the ending was so awful. Brando is supposed to be this decorated hero who went nuts and decided he was the local's deity. Well, Brando is only in the last twenty or so minutes of the movie and I just don't understand what the big deal is about his performance. He spouts out all this philosophical BS that is a bit over my head (I'd have to re-watch it again, maybe I'd appreciate it more) but generally is about the absolutely insanity of the war. I guess I don't have a problem with the monologueing, but it just takes up so much time and seemed to drag. And although I really enjoyed the film, it's not the best one out there dealing with Vietnam - Platoon has that hands down and is the more approachable movie, than Apocalypse Now.

I really enjoyed all the performances. Martin Sheen is fantastic (and Brando is good, but nor worthy of all the praise I see him get for this movie) and Laurence Fishburne is so young (he was only 17!), but is really good. However, the movie gets a few points docked because Dennis Hopper has to come in and crap all over this movie with his retread of Billy from Easy Rider. I mean, he just says "man" after every line and we're supposed to believe he's some hippie guy? It's a total hack performance and one I loathed from the minute he came onscreen.

Otherwise, a great, great movie that needs to be seen. It's a movie that delves into the dark parts of the human soul and has a lot of great characters. I will have to watch this one again sometime in order to fully "get" the ending and appreciate it more, but for now, I feel pretty confident to give this one an own it!

Rating: Own It!

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