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Apocalypse Now

December 31st, 2018   |   Updated on February 14th, 2022

During the Vietnam War, Captain Willard is sent on a dangerous mission into Cambodia to assassinate a renegade Colonel who has set himself up as a god among a local tribe.

At the height of the Vietnam war, experienced soldier and covert operative Captain Benjamin Willard withdraws from a drunken and disheveled state to accept his most daring and secretive mission yet. His objective is to travel down the Nyung river by boat and assassinate a Green Beret Colonel named Kurtz who has gone insane deep within the Jungle, and leads his men and a local tribe as a god on illegal guerrilla missions into enemy territory.

As Willard and the crew of a Navy PR boat unaware of his objective embark on their journey from the security of civilization into the untamed depths of the jungle, Willard confronts not only the same horrors and hypocrisy that pushed the level headed Colonel Kurtz over the edge into an abyss of insanity, but the primal violence of human nature and the darkness of his own heart.

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Movie Reviews: “Apocalypse Now

Movie Review: Washington Post

Apocalypse Now

The atmosphere of Francis Coppola’s lamentable magnum opus, “Apocalypse Now,” a ruinously pretentious and costly allegorical epic about war in Vietnam, recalls nothing so much as the notorious campfire scene in Mel Brooks’ “Blazing Saddles.” It’s the cumulative effect generated by mixing richly portentous imagery with absurdly portentous prose, starkly portentous sound and flatulently portentous music.

The movie — opening today in 70mm and supersonic Dolby at the Uptown — commences straining for greatness and never lets up. It’s still straining at the fadeout, which may not even be the definitive fadeout. The 35mm version of “Apocalypse,” due next Wednesday at the Annandale and Beltway Plaza, supposedly ends with the display of fireworks Coppola preferred to omit from the 70mm version.

Coppola’s woozy scenario leans desperately on a self-consciously “sardonic” voice-over narration, attribued to the author of “Dispatches,” Michael Herr, whose vigorous literary style seems to turn bombastic when read aloud. The narration, full of premature commentary and character analysis, is underscored by risible orchestrations.

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Movie Review: New York Daily News

One of those high-impact sequences involves a helicopter raid on a Viet Cong-controlled village, a raid instigated by an American colonel (Robert Duvall) who, as a surfing nut, is simply anxious to try out the “great waves” near the enemy stronghold. The raid begins at dawn and, as the helicopters head towards the target, the cameras shift to the village square, where giggling school children are being quickly herded away by their teacher.

The silence is broken by the thunderous roar of the helicopters. On board, men nervously prepare for the attack and somebody switches on a tape of Wagner’s “The Ride of the Valkyries,” a rousing, but overworked piece of music that underscores Coppola’s operatic, flamboyantly theatrical approach to his subject.

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Movie Review: Time Out

Not that there isn’t room for experimentation. The central storyline – Captain Willard (Martin Sheen) is tasked with tracking down and executing Marlon Brando’s rogue Colonel Kurtz – is essentially a slender thread upon which Coppola and his co-writer John Milius hang a number of increasingly wild asides.

But these brief, brutal and seemingly unconnected incidents work together to drive the film forward: in their very randomness, they build a picture of a war being fought without strategy or clear intent, making Willard’s mission simultaneously clearer and more morally meaningless.

In contrast to Coppola’s earlier ‘The Godfather Part II’ and ‘The Conversation’, ‘Apocalypse Now’ isn’t a conspicuously ‘smart’ film: literary references aside, there are no intellectual pretensions here.

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