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Review – Apocalypse Now: Final Cut – “An absolute must-see”

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Rightly lauded as an absolute masterpiece, Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now is re-released remastered this month with a dazzling picture and booming but pin-sharp audio you can hear in your flipping soul. With removals, rejigs and additions not present in the previous Redux edition, Coppola himself swears down that this is indeed Apocalypse Now: Final Cut.

In the middle of the Vietnam War, Captain Willard (Martin Sheen) is tasked by officers — including a young Harrison Ford — with travelling down a treacherous river to assassinate Colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando) who has gone rogue and native – setting himself up as a leader and god to the locals.

Hitching a ride on a boat crewed by amongst others Laurence Fishburne, Willard and co. get in scrapes and adventures as they travel down the river into an at first metaphorical and then very literal hell that highlights the absolute terror and insanity of the Vietnam war and the limits and breaking points that its participants were pushed to.

One of the most memorable encounters is with a Lieutenant Colonel called “Killgore”, iconically played by Robert Duvall, who commands a cavalry of helicopters, likes to surf and has all the best lines like “I love the smell of napalm in the morning” and “Charlie don’t surf”.

But seeing the film again and this fresh you remember that it’s not just a load of memorable quotes and humming ‘The Flight of the Valkyries’, Apocalypse Now is a heart-stoppingly excellent film that is one of the greatest ever made and features wall-to-wall scenes, shots performances and emotions that will stay with you for life.

The new-new version of Apocalypse Now has been remastered in 4K and surely looks as good if not better than the first time it was projected in ‘79. The sharpness and colour are beautiful and seeing it on the big-big screen in IMAX is honestly breathtaking.

The audio is immense too. The explosions, ‘coptor blades and gunfire has a range and depth you can feel in your bones; the surround is so encompassing and immersive that I felt like I was on that midnight mango tiger trek; and quieter moments like Brando’s snail-on-a-razor speech are relayed with chilling and exciting clarity that feels absolutely just for such a titanic performance.

Longer than the original, but shorter than Redux, Final Cut flows better again now but still retains that awful French plantation owners sequence that still feels like a pitstop to many and too slow right before the incredible finale with Dennis Hopper and Brando at Kurtz’s compound. 

Whether it is your first or tenth time, Apocalypse Now: Final Cut is an absolute must-see. Preferably, as big and as loud as possible. You can do this by checking it out in cinemas & IMAX on the 13th of August and on 4K Ultra HD and Blu-Ray on the 26th of August.

As an added treat, the screenings on the 13th of August will include a filmed conversation with Francis Ford Coppola and Steven Soderbergh that was recorded at the premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in April 2019. Tickets are on sale now at ApocalypseNowFilm.co.uk

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