The first hour is nothing short of masterful. I'm referring here to goosebumps that only result from supreme artistic excellence. I am referring more specifically to the movie's first battle, the merciless attack led by Robert Duvall. Not only is it amazing to watch, but Robert Duvall's performance is mesmerising. His character's eccentricity (insane bravery and obsession with surfing) is unforgettable. It's one indication of the director's love for being over-the-top, and it works quite well, in the first hour.
Marlon Brando has very powerful moments dedicated to his character, a twisted fuck who revels in intense horror. He doesn't appear in much of the movie, and is filmed with reverance of a prophet, reminding me of the old man in the early scenes of Seven Samurai. Dennis Hopper does a wonderful turn as his admirer, in the only one of his performances that I actually find enjoyable.
Despite this, I am not going to neglect to mention some questionable casting choices:
- Martin Sheen is not bad, but there must have been someone more suitable. Nice voice though, especially when he narrates.
- The driver of the boat sucks, and he sucked in Malcolm X too.
- I'm not sure about Laurence Fishburne; he seems too artificial, like some sorry attempt to keep the story interesting.
- Harrison Ford looks like ineffective comic relief, without being one.
Although the quality of being over-the-top worked well in the first hour, that was not exactly the case elsewhere. For one, the Playboy antic was acceptable. But as if that wasn't enough, they (later on, for some silly and unjustified reason) also had to fuck the travelling men. There was also the moment at a dinner table with the French. Note that these moments were very well done, but they just don't live up to what the first hour promised. They almost seem like desperate attempts at keeping the whole thing exciting. Yes, and that wasn't enough still, so there had to be sex and romance too. Regardless, the gal rocks so hard, complete with the face and sensuality of the magnificent Tilda Swinton.
I hate the shortcomings of the, for I would be happy to name it a masterpiece. Surely this is a work of visual excellence, and is showered with amazing cinematography and, especially, production design. The only war movie that is any match on both these elements is Saving Private Ryan. Maybe that's a careless statement, but then again my memory is hardly ever impressive.
The version I watched is the one released in 2001, fully titled Apocalypse Now Redux.