Your Ticket Inside the Movies


Classic Review: Apocalypse Now

Posted March 13, 2012 by in Action







Musical Score

Total Score

89/ 100

What We Thought

Genre: ,
Actors: , , ,

What We Liked :

Explores the emotional aspect of combat and the madness prevailing throughout. The use of sound is fantastic and set new standards.

What We Disliked:

The ending leaves a little too much open to interpretation.
Bottom Line

Apocalypse Now is riveting film that explores the emotional aspect of combat and the madness prevailing throughout.

by Max
Full Article

“Kilgore: I love the smell of napalm in the morning.”

Apocalypse Now is a brilliantly cast and riveting film. The performances from a young Martin Sheen and Robert Duvall are iconic. The only problem is that the director, Francis Ford Coppola, doesn’t know how to end the film.

Apocalypse Now tells the story of, Captain Benjamin Wilard (Martin Sheen), who must go to Saigon and terminate with “extreme prejudice” a comrade, Colonel Walter Kurtz (Marlon Brando) who has gone insane. Sheen is given a ragtag crew to take him down the river through Saigon and into Cambodia to find Kurtz and film follows their journey.

Along the way, Wilard needs help getting through some enemy territory and this introduces the films best character. L.T. Colonel Bill Kilgore (Robert Duvall) lives for only two things, war and surfing. At first, it seems he doesn’t want to help Wilard on his mission to get to Cambodia. This quickly changes when Kilgore finds out one of Wilard’s crew members is a famous surfer.


What proceeds is one of the most famous war segments in war films. Kilgore must clear the way for Wilard and brings an armada of helicopters to aid with the job. The men queue up ‘Ride of the Valkyries’ by Wagner and into synchronized combat the fly. The sheer carnage on display while this piece of classical music is playing is defiantly one of the highlights of the film.

Wilard and his crew continue on their journey and they quickly find that continuing with this mission will be futile. The crew following orders from command have no idea about the mission they are dying to complete. When they finally reach the camp where Kurtz resides only three of them left and what they find is but a small taste of hell.

Martin Sheen

This final sequence is also a memorable segment of the movie, but not because its coherent. The film plays its finale with a deliberate insanity, exemplifying the madness that Kurtz has created with quick cuts and hauntingly dark images. I almost get the sense that in the heat of battle when death is on the line, perhaps both parties have crossed the threshold into insanity.

Francis Ford Coppola had a nightmare of a time completing Apocalypse Now. The acclaimed documentary ‘Heart of Darkness’* goes into the production of the film in great detail. The ending sequence, I imagine took its toll on him to a great extent.

Playboy bunny visit

Apocalypse Now is available on DVD and two different versions on Blu-ray. The first edition is much less expensive and contains the original film and the redux* of the film released by Coppola in 2001 that consists of thirty minutes of additional footage. The second edition has an a disc of extra features as well as the documentary ‘Heart of Darkness’.

The tagline of Apocalypse Now is “The Horror…The Horror” and I believe this can be taken out of context to explain war on its own. Kurtz and Willard have entered into circle of never-ending death and everywhere they turn is horrific. Apocalypse Now is riveting film that explores the emotional aspect of combat and the madness prevailing throughout. With its fantastic performances and iconic imagery, Apocalypse Now comes Highly Recommended.

4.5 Hearts / 5

Apocalypse Now
Directed by Francis Ford Coppola
Staring: Martin Sheen, Marlon Brando, Dennis Hopper and Robert Duvall
Available now on DVD and Blu-ray
Images Courtesy of (Blu-ray version of the film)

*Note: The redux and documentary ‘Heart of Darkness’ were not viewed before writing this critique.




    That redux version is pretty strange with that whole French plantation thing going on. One of my favorite "war" films of all time. I like to think of Coppola's inability to end the film as a corollary of man's inability to end war.

    nice review, max


      I'm glad I didn't decide to try that version out. I remember people being so excited for it though. It's a shame that it amounts to filler material.


    I agree with 3guys1movie, the redux seem fairly indulgent and not really worth it. The French settlers seemed fairly pointless. Still an amazing film though, and featuring a young and very skinny "Larry" Fishbourne if I remember. Nice review.


      Thanks for coming by Russ. Yes! Larry Fishbourne. I had to look it up on IMDB and I was wicked surprised. I watched this film last year and this is a repost from then, but it has resonated better to me over time.

    Jack Deth

    Good review and photos!

    I've saw the original when it opened in Washington DC and still miss the last five minutes of the film's closing credits. Done to indigenous music while the Arc Light Raid destroys the last vestiges of Kurtz's Cambodian camp in extreme slow motion.

    Surprised that Coppola opted for the credits against a black background afterwards.

    Still think 'Apocalypse Now' and 'Heart of Darkness' from 1991 make a better double bill than one viewing of 'Apocalypse Now Redux' and its 45 minutes of slow moving french etiquette.


      Never knew there was an extra five minutes.

      I had to buy the Special Edition release of the Blu-ray because I wanted Heart of Darkness. It is essential to the whole piece due to its superb quality. Thanks for stopping by Jack.


    This is a film that has stayed in my top 3 of all time for a very long time, and I am pretty sure it will never leave there!!

    Thanks for the great review Max!! you are a star


      Thanks, Scott.

      I didn't know this was one of your favorites. I watched it last year and I've been wanting to watch it again. I figured since I wasn't getting the audience I get now it was time to show this review off to the crowd.


    I've been meaning to see this for a long time, and I will, soon, I promise, silly me! Great review!


      It's really slow going and a little long, but it's a magnificent achievement in scope and sound design. Not to mention the performances from the cast.



    I am super jealous… I wish I had chosen it now!


    I like the fact that Apocalypse Now goes from its initial linear narrative to the weird, off-the-wall final act the way it does – I do think it's a representation of the state of mind of both Kurtz and Wilard, in that both of them have been overcome by the horror of war and the oppressive nature of their surroundings. While I appreciate the Redux version as a more "complete" variant of the film, I understand why many casual fans may not – it is at least 40 minutes longer and contains a rather bafflingly obsucre sidebar into a French plantation… a sequence I've seen many times and still can't quite figure out.

    Great review, Max. I'm looking forward to your companion review of Hearts Of Darkness to come…. hint hint! 😉


      I started watching 'Heart of Darkness' awhile ago, but it was late so I didn't finish it. Maybe I'll start it over again due to the interest this post generated.


    Great review, Max. It has been many years since I watched this, but I don't think I fully appreciated it back then. I definitely need to give it another viewing. I do remember the use of Wagner being pretty awesome, though.

    Digging the new look, too! Nice job!


      I didn't really love it when I finished it either. It's grown on me significantly since I watched it last year. The special features do help massage our views of a film because sometimes knowing what went into a shot can change our perception on it. If you get a chance to check out 'Heart of Darkness' I would.


    Yeah the redux version was just an excuse to put Apocalypse Now in theatres again, like Star Wars special edition in 1997 (I'm ok with that as we need them on the big screen) Masterpieces that have been improved by later adding scenes are rare. Maybe Empire strikes back ( cloud city ), or The Abyss extended version (huge waves). Would make an interesting post to ask which are the best redux movies out there!

    Use of sound is really that good, not aware of that, will listen out next time


      Hey that's a great idea of a segment! Let's work on it. I'm not to sure of how many films out there have changes and which ones were for better or worse. It would be interesting.

Leave a Response