Posts Tagged ‘Laurence Fishburne’

Director: Zack Snyder

Starring: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne, Jeremy Irons, Holly Hunter, Gal Gadot

As a comics reader, I’ve always been more of a Marvel fan. The same is true of the movies… for the most part. There have been exceptions to that rule, of course, notably with DC’s adaptations of Alan Moore classics V for Vendetta and Watchmen. The big-screen escapades of DC’s two most popular characters, Batman and Superman, have also piqued my interest on occasion. Of the two, Batman, being a man who has no superpowers to fall back on, is infinitely more relatable than the Last Son of Krypton.  So, of course, when it comes to a showdown between the two, I would always choose the side of the Caped Crusader. Not to mention the fact that I can count seeing Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman at the age of 7 as the event which changed me from a casual viewer to full-blown fan of movies. From 1978 to the present day, each hero’s cinematic ride has experienced the highest of highs, and (extremely) lowest of lows. 2016’s Batman v. Superman falls into neither category.

After a brief opening credits sequence which features what feels like the millionth depiction of the murders of Thomas and Martha Wayne (played by “The Walking Dead” co-stars Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Lauren Cohan), the action moves to the climactic battle sequence from the end of 2013’s Man of Steel, where Superman (Henry Cavill) winds up causing more destruction in Metropolis than he is able to prevent in battling General Zod (Michael Shannon). Only, this time, we witness the battle from the perspective of Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck).

One cannot watch this sequence without automatically thinking of 9/11, and that’s what makes this the most effective part of the movie. It also helps to establish a motive for Bruce Wayne/Batman to see Superman not as a guardian of Earth, but as a threat against it. Bruce, who has been at this superhero gig for a while now, is using a much more harshly defined sense of justice these days, which provides Clark Kent/Superman with reason to voice his opinion on the matter via Daily Planet articles.

Unlike the Superman of the 1980s, who somehow was able to convince the leaders of the world to allow him to rid the Earth of nuclear weapons, this version of Superman has a hard time assuring the U.S. government that he has our best interests at heart. He is even compelled to appear before a Senate committee hearing on the subject. Unfortunately, the hearing is interrupted by a suicide bomb, which kills everyone in attendance, including Senator June Finch (Holly Hunter). Everyone, that is, except for Superman. As it happens, this event, along with the seeds of doubt pitting Batman and Superman on opposing sides, have all been orchestrated by the unhinged head of LexCorp, Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg).

Behind the scenes, Luthor has been very busy, collecting a Kryptonite sample, acquiring both Zod’s corpse and his spaceship, and also investigating the existence of metahumans. Bruce Wayne acquires both the Kryptonite and the info on meta-humans, the former to be used as a deterrent against Superman. The latter reveals to him four individuals with extraordinary gifts: the super-speedy Barry Allen/The Flash (Ezra Miller), the underwater-dwelling Arthur Curry/Aquaman (Jason Momoa), the part man, part machine Victor Stone/Cyborg (Ray Fisher), as well as Amazonian Princess and daughter of Zeus, Diana Prince/Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot). Bruce is already familiar with Diana, having bumped into her at a party at LexCorp. He only needs the one meeting to be able to sense that there is more to her than most men would notice.

Diana is also interested in the meta-human file, though only for a specific photo which she claims belongs to her. Bruce shares the file via e-mail, noting that this grainy black & white image from a century ago is not merely her possession, but is in fact a record of her involvement in the events of World War I. I reserve any further commentary on the matter, as the movie does, for 2017’s Wonder Woman.

The film’s promised fight finally gets underway thanks to Lex’s maneuverings, the final piece of which is the kidnapping of Martha Kent (Diane Lane), which will ensure that Superman fights Batman at Lex’s bidding, lest Martha meet a fiery end. So the two heroes fight, with Batman using Kryptonite as a means to level the playing field. Eventually, Batman gains the upper hand, but is startled by the notion that Superman’s adoptive mother and his own dead mother share the same first name. For most who have seen this movie, this scene is one of the most heavily scrutinized. It’s the jarring transition from beating the hell out of each other to suddenly being best buds which earns that criticism.

So, Batman volunteers to save Martha while Superman goes to confront Luthor. Unable to accept defeat, Luthor unveils his Plan B: the Kryptonian abomination known as Doomsday. It takes the combined efforts of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman to provide adequate defense against the monster, but only Kryptonite can kill it, and the only fragment left was used by Batman to form a spear. It falls to Superman to find and use the spear, but because of his own weakness to the shiny green rock it leaves him just as vulnerable, and thus Superman and Doomsday simultaneously kill one another.

An epilogue, which is mainly a teaser for the forthcoming Justice League movie, shows Batman confronting a deranged Luthor in prison, who warns of the imminent arrival of supervillain Steppenwolf (whose actual name is never mentioned), leaving Bruce Wayne with the sense that, soon, the meta-humans will be compelled to answer the call to battle. Meanwhile, a funeral is held for Superman, who is recognized in death as the hero he was never fully appreciated as in life. But there are indications that he may not be totally dead just yet…

Batman v. Superman is a fundamentally flawed movie, which is pretty much par for the course with Batman and Superman’s movies (except for 2008’s The Dark Knight). It gives us a terrific Bruce Wayne/Batman (not to mention a decent Alfred as performed by Jeremy Irons), and a not-so-great Superman. The battle scenes are great, but character behavior/motivation is a problem. Particularly depressing is the portrayal of Superman not as the ray of hope he’s been known as through the majority of his existence since 1938, but as a dark, brooding character. That’s supposed to be Batman’s territory! The whole point is for them to have two wildly contrasting outlooks on the world and life in general.

So desperate was DC to compete with Marvel Studios that it got a little too greedy. It’s never a good idea to cross pollinate two completely different comic storylines into one movie. 2006’s X-Men: The Last Stand did the same thing. So did 2007’s Spider-Man 3. All it does is undermine both arcs. If you’re gonna throw in “The Death of Superman” right after his first meeting with Batman, that’s fine. A little weird, but okay. What you shouldn’t do is pass off their chronologically final confrontation from the comics (“The Dark Knight Returns”) as their first in this movie. It’s rather jarring.

This movie is neither fantastic, nor fantastically awful, although it is clear that this wasn’t the best way to introduce the DCEU (DC Expanded Universe). One thing that Batman v. Superman got fantastically right is its portrayal of Diana Prince/Wonder Woman. Even her theme music is badass! The scene-stealing Gal Gadot’s performance is spot-on; so much so that, by herself, Wonder Woman gave hope that her own adventure might just give DC the boost it needed after this misstep. But that, as I said, is a subject best left for another film review.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 3 (1987)

Director: Chuck Russell

Starring: Heather Langenkamp, Patricia Arquette, Larry Fishburne, Priscilla Pointer, Craig Wasson, John Saxon, Dick Cavett, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Robert Englund

Just as I can’t jump on the hate bandwagon against “A Nightmare on Elm Street 2,” I also take a pass on boarding the love train for “A Nightmare on Elm Street 3,” which some fans see as their favorite of the franchise. Don’t get me wrong. “Dream Warriors” is still a great sequel. But I can’t help thinking how much greater it could have been. The few problems I have are similar to the ones I had with the original “Nightmare,” only this time they are magnified.

Six years after the events of “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” we look in on Kristen Parker (Patricia Arquette, in her first starring role) building a replica of the house on 1428 Elm Street. Playing loud music and eating coffee grounds washed down with Diet Coke, Kristen is told by her mother to get to bed, as Mom has a boyfriend waiting impatiently downstairs. Kristen does eventually fall asleep, winding up inside the 1428 Elm Street house. Kristen’s dream leads her back to her own house, where the bathroom sink comes alive and slashes her wrist. In the waking world, Kristen’s mother finds her daughter appearing to have sliced open her own wrist with a razor blade.

Off to Westin Hills we go, where Kristen reacts violently to the thought of sedation and is only calmed down when Nancy Thompson, a new staff member at the psychiatric hospital, enters the room and finishes the familiar Freddy nursery rhyme that Kristen begins. Afterwards, we become acquainted with the rest of the cast in a group therapy session. In addition to Doctors Neil Gordon and Elizabeth Simms (Craig Wasson and Priscilla Pointer), we also meet the other patients who, together with Kristen, make up the last of the Elm Street children (i.e. the children of those who originally killed Freddy). This is where “A Nightmare on Elm Street 3” shows off one of its strong points; very few horror films in the late 80’s had casts of characters with such distinct personalities and backgrounds. We have Joey (a mute), Will (a paraplegic whose condition is the result of a nasty fall), Kincaid (who suffers from perceived behavioral issues), Taryn (a former drug addict), Phillip (a sculptor who specializes in clay puppets), and Jennifer (an aspiring actress with delusions of grandeur).

Purely by accident, it is revealed that Nancy has been taking an experimental drug called Hypnocil, used for dream suppression. She wants Neil to prescribe this drug for the kids, but Neil balks at the idea of administering a drug that the FDA won’t even approve. After another dream in which Kristen is attacked by Freddy and then demonstrates her ability to pull others into her dream with her by calling for Nancy, Freddy and his nemesis are reunited. Subsequently, Phillip is killed when Freddy causes him to sleepwalk up to the hospital’s highest point and then cuts him loose, having used Phillip’s tendons as marionette strings. The next day, Jennifer is killed in a scene which couldn’t possibly be interpreted as a suicide, yet is. When Jennifer falls asleep in the TV room, Freddy interrupts a talk show hosted by Dick Cavett. Jennifer goes to the TV to try to fix the scrambled signal, but then Freddy’s head emerges from the top and two mechanical arms extend from the sides, pick up Jennifer, and then ram her head into the TV screen. Max (Laurence Fishburne), the head orderly, finds Jennifer with her head indeed smashed through the TV screen. The trouble is that she would either have had to run at the TV, jump and then headbutt the screen, or at least get something to stand on first. Considering no chair or footstool is in sight, I’m guessing the hospital staff went with the even more ludicrous explanation.

All the while, visions of a nun named Sister Mary Helena convince Gordon to go along with Nancy’s recommendation of giving doses of Hypnocil to the children. He also decides it would be best to try group hypnosis. Within the ensuing dream, the kids all discover they have powers unique to them. But the hypnosis experiment backfires, resulting in Freddy trapping Joey in a coma, and Dr. Gordon and Nancy both being fired. They soon head for a local bar to confront Nancy’s father, estranged from his daughter ever since the death of her mother. Nancy knows her father is the only person who can tell them where Freddy’s remains are hidden, as Sister Mary Helena has told Neil that burying said bones are the only way to put Freddy to rest for good. Lt. Thompson is less than cooperative, so Neil sends Nancy back to the hospital while he convinces her father to take him to the auto graveyard.

Nancy makes it back to the hospital, hoping to help Joey and Kristen, who has been sedated and placed in isolation after freaking out over Nancy’s firing. Max stands in her way, but she convinces him to let her visit with the others one last time. It is here that she gathers Taryn, Will and Kincaid for one final group hypnosis, warning them that death in the dreamworld means death for them in the waking world as well. Only Kincaid and Nancy manage to survive to free Joey from Freddy’s clutches while Neil and Lt. Thompson remove Freddy’s bones from the trunk of a Cadillac and proceed to dig a hole to bury them. Now here’s where the movie sinks from being as good as or even better than the original into bitter disappointment.

Before Lt. Thompson and Dr. Gordon can finish their task, Freddy’s bones come alive, impale Nancy’s father against the Cadillac and knocks Neil unconscious with his shovel before collapsing again. Most occurrences like this in the series can be attributed to the characters falling asleep without them or the viewer knowing it, but the way this scene plays itself out I have to believe that Freddy somehow reanimated his bones in the waking world. What happens next, however, may be even worse. After Joey reveals his dream power to have been the use of his voice in screaming so loud that it appears to drive Freddy away, Nancy automatically assumes the danger is over. She even becomes complacent when her father appears in the dream without having been pulled in by Kristen and tells her he has “crossed over.” Nancy believes this lie so thoroughly that she doesn’t notice anything is amiss until she feels the four blades of Freddy’s glove in her abdomen. Freddy also traps Kristen in the room with them, and although she uses her gymnastics dream power to evade him briefly, he does catch up to her and appears ready to take her out until a mortally wounded Nancy sneaks from behind and forces Freddy’s gloved hand into his own chest. Neil also wakes up and shoves Freddy’s bones into the grave and consecrates the ground, apparently defeating him. But victory comes with a price, as Nancy dies in Kristen’s arms. Later, at Nancy’s funeral, Neil discovers that “Sister Mary Helena” was the assumed name of Amanda Krueger, Freddy’s mother.

As originally conceived, “A Nightmare on Elm Street 3” was to be much darker and more violent. Freddy himself was to be much more vulgar, instead of the wisecracking persona he adopted and has since become known for. In fact, Wes Craven’s first idea for the movie had had Freddy emerging into the real world to invade the dreams of actors filming the latest “Nightmare” film, a concept he would later have the chance to revisit in seven years’ time. The final product, the subject of rewrites from three additional sources (including Frank Darabont and director Chuck Russell), still manages to be the best written of all the “Nightmare” sequels. It also contains some of the series’ best nightmare sequences, and features an undeniably catchy hit tune in “Dream Warriors” by Dokken.

So why can’t I love it the way that most fans do? Much like the first “Nightmare,” the ending to this one is downright frustrating. It’s not that big a deal that Nancy dies. Heroes die in horror movies all the time. It’s the WAY she dies that’s such a bring-down. Nancy had demonstrated in the past that she’s too smart to fall for the trick which seals her fate here. Compounding the situation is the awful dialogue given to the otherwise talented Patricia Arquette in this, the series’ saddest moment. Because we know now that “A Nightmare on Elm Street 3” would not be the final “Nightmare,” her death is ultimately in vain, turning what had been a fun movie up to that point into a most depressing affair indeed. Tonally, it would have worked better in Wes Craven’s darker, original draft. If this movie had been terrible, I wouldn’t even care. I would just ignore the fact that it exists. But it’s not terrible. It’s actually very entertaining and inventive, and that’s why it’s so disheartening that it doesn’t quite have the ending it deserves.

The Matrix (1999)

 

Directors: The Wachowski Brothers

Starring: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving, Joe Pantoliano

Somewhere in the middle of “The Matrix,” one character laments having been shown the world as it truly exists: dark, depressing, and without much to look forward to except surviving. The lie fed to him and the rest of humanity by the Matrix presents a more comforting environment with places to visit, people to see, a job with a steady paycheck, and delicious food to be eaten. He would prefer to have remained ignorant of what’s really out there, much as we all were when we were young and naive. I envy those children for whom the pinnacle of their day is another episode of “Thomas the Tank Engine.” They know nothing of war, poverty, disease, politics or domestic violence. It would be nice to be so carefree again, but it would also be irresponsible for us as the adults to ignore all the ugliness of the world. If there were no one with the courage to stand up and protest, nothing would ever change.

In the world that Thomas Anderson (Keanu Reeves) is familiar with, he is leading a double life as a computer programmer and as a computer hacker, the latter of which has him working under the assumed name of “Neo.” All that he thinks he knows is turned upside down one day when men in suits and sunglasses referred to simply as Agents come looking for him. Soon he meets Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) and Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne). Both have been steering him towards a sort of enlightenment, waking him up to the reality that the Matrix is a fabrication. Neo is at first unwilling to accept what he sees with his own eyes. Morpheus tells him why he was awakened: It is Morpheus’s belief that Neo represents the fulfillment of a prophecy foretelling of a man called “The One” who freed the first humans and is due to return to finish the job. He believes Neo is that resurrected savior of mankind. It’s a lot for Neo to process.

After extensive training, Neo becomes a valued member of the team, even exhibiting leadership qualities when Morpheus is captured by the Agents, whom no one engages in combat if he/she can help it because of their incredible strength and speed. Neo surprises everyone, himself especially, when he shows that he can move like the Agents can. Among the superpowered A.I. Men in Black, Neo has something of a counterpart. Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving), although no stronger than the other Agents, seems more cunning, more intelligent. He’s had it with the Matrix, and is desperate to find a way to get out. Capturing Morpheus for information was part of his plan. Coming face-to-face with Neo (whom Smith refers to as “Mr. Anderson”) wasn’t.

“The Matrix” is a neat little anti-establishment film, but it is a fantastic action flick, littered with breathtaking fight sequences and gun battles. The scene that stands out the most comes when Neo and Trinity enter a heavily guarded facility inside the Matrix where Morpheus is being held. Both come wearing long, black trenchcoats, and both are heavily armed. Sadly, it was also this scene that was held against the movie when detractors claimed that it influenced Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the two teenagers who perpetrated the Columbine High School massacre in April of 1999.

If Keanu Reeves hadn’t already proven himself to be a credible action star with “Point Break” and Speed,” “The Matrix” made sure that he wouldn’t be known exclusively for the “Bill & Ted” time travel comedies. Even so, his utterance of the word “Whoa!” still makes you think of Ted. Laurence Fishburne’s performance as Morpheus almost seems like an audition for a Jedi in a “Star Wars”movie, but his Obi-Wan Kenobi-like character has more feeling than any of George Lucas’s heroes who learned to use the Force.

Unquestionably, it’s Hugo Weaving who is the scene-stealer. You hang on Agent Smith’s every word even as you hope for Neo to take this bastard down. Most people probably weren’t terribly familiar with Weaving back in 1999 (I certainly was not), but he’s all over the place now. He’s been a regular staple of the science fiction and fantasy genres, portraying V in “V for Vendetta,” the Elf Lord Elrond in the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, the Red Skull in “Captain America: The First Avenger,” and provided the voice of Megatron for Michael Bay’s live-action “Transformers” films, to name but a few of his contributions.

“The Matrix” has become as much a part of popular culture as any of the major sci-fi franchises. Even now, fifteen years after the movie was originally released both Laurence Fishburne and Hugo Weaving have been seen once again playing their characters, this time in separate, very entertaining commercials. Agent Smith appeared in an ad for General Electric, whereas Morpheus could be seen selling cars for Kia.

Where “The Matrix” slips is in its mumbo jumbo. As “Star Trek” often does, “The Matrix” will sometimes use big words to sound smarter than it actually is. The Wachowskis are actually reaching for something profound, particularly in the choice vs. destiny debate. They don’t quite go completely off the rails with it, but it’s still best to just concentrate on the “hero’s journey” part of the action. Speaking of which, as great as the action is, I really wish that this movie (along with “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”) hadn’t made “wire fu” quite so popular. Martial arts films have suffered the most because of it. They were better without that unnecessary, over-the-top complication.

Of course, like most any popular movie, “The Matrix” eventually was burdened by sequels, filmed simutaneously and then released within six months of each other in 2003. In chapters 2 and 3 of the “Matrix” saga, the mumbo jumbo is raised to dangerous levels. In “The Matrix Reloaded,” there are several notable action sequences… but they go on for far too long and, because the participants never injure one another to any great degree, none of it really means anything. So disappointed was I by “The Matrix Reloaded” that I have never bothered to watch “The Matrix Revolutions” in its entirety. In my mind, “The Matrix” ends so perfectly that there really was no need for any further stories to be told. Although I know it’s not the truth, I like to pretend that, once Rage Against the Machine’s “Wake Up” begins playing over the end credits, that’s all there is. There is no spoon, and there are no sequels.

Apocalypse Now (1979)

Director: Francis Ford Coppola

Starring: Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall, Martin Sheen, Frederic Forrest, Albert Hall, Sam Bottoms, Larry Fishburne, Dennis Hopper, Harrison Ford, Scott Glenn

It was madness that sent thousands upon thousands of young American men halfway around the world to “make the world safe from Communism.” It was the Draft which ensured that many who never would have entertained the possibility of military service would never come home from this war. Back home, it was lies and deceit coupled with the horror stories reported on the news that inspired anti-war protests. Lyndon Baines Johnson could have been regarded as one of the greatest U.S. Presidents of all time for certain key accomplishments, but the tragic mistake that was the Vietnam War will forever tarnish his legacy. Those who survived and returned home would often wind up so emotionally scarred that the madness only deepens as time goes on. Though their tour may have ended, Vietnam never truly left them.

Captain Benjamin Willard (Martin Sheen) faces quite a conundrum. When he is in Vietnam, there is only the mission, otherwise he can’t wait to get out. But on the occasions when he is returned home, all he can think about is getting back. So, while in Saigon with nothing to do, the special ops soldier drinks himself half to death until someone hands him official papers telling him which way to jump. This time, he’s been summoned to his most unusual mission yet, a top secret assignment which will have him traversing into Cambodia, where he is to locate and “terminate” the rogue Special Forces Colonel Walter Kurtz (Marlon Brando), who is said to have gone insane and has been carrying out his own “missions” without any authorization from the U.S. Military. Willard has been sent on missions where he’s had to kill specific people before, just never an American. Never an officer, and certainly not one who at one point was being considered for promotion to the rank of General. Willard hitches a ride on board a Navy Patrol Boat, along with its crew of four. On several occasions, they run into trouble, once inadvertently murdering the innocent passengers of a civilian boat while checking it for hidden weapons. Each successive obstacle causes further paranoia among the crew, with some resorting to hallucinogenic alternatives to the reality of their situation. Willard himself, although bothered by these events, remains focused on his mission. There are casualties among the crew, but eventually Willard reaches his destination, finding the previous soldier sent to do the same mission (Scott Glenn) and an American civilian photo-journalist (Dennis Hopper), both seemingly worshipping the Colonel, and finally Kurtz himself.

Despite changing the location of the story, adapted from Joseph Conrad’s 1899 novella “Heart of Darkness,” from the African Congo to the jungles of Vietnam, the question raised by the source material of what defines civilized behavior is every bit as well-represented. “Apocalypse Now” features one of my favorite opening scenes of any movie. As the song “The End” by The Doors plays on the soundtrack, we know even without considering the Vietnam setting that this is a story which is not destined to end well for anyone. Terrific use of the rotating blades of the ceiling fan in Willard’s room in mimicking those of the helicopters flying outside. I also love the way Martin Sheen instantly lets us in on his character’s state of mind. Willard may be good at what he does, but he’s also prone to flying off the handle, which leads me to suspect that it was no accident that he was picked to go after Kurtz. I find myself in complete agreement with the actor in that my two favorite film roles of Sheen’s are this one and 1973’s “Badlands.” Laurence Fishburne, then 14, lied about how old he was in order to win the role of the 17-year old “Clean.” By the time production was finished, Fishburne had reached his character’s designated age. Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall and Dennis Hopper are all masters of their trade. Bizzare as it may sound, Col. Kurtz sits somewhere around fourth or fifth in my top five of Brando’s film roles, but he’s still an absolute joy to watch… even when the things Kurtz has to say don’t really make much sense. Dennis Hopper has always been a scenery-chewer, owing a lot to his ability to play characters of questionable sanity. He turned his manic meter up to 11 for this one, and I love that about him.

The behind-the-scenes account of “Apocalypse Now” is almost as intriguing as the film itself. I’ve yet to see the documentary “Hearts of Darkness” for myself, though what I have heard really makes me want to check it out. Tensions between Brando and Hopper were such that Brando refused to be on set as the same time as his co-star. Martin Sheen nearly died for this movie, suffering a heart attack after the first 12 months of the film’s arduous production. The story also goes that, for the opening scene which I love so very much, Sheen had just celebrated a birthday and did not have to act like a man who’d had one too many drinks. “Apocalypse Now” wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows for director Francis Ford Coppola, either. In addition to playing referee between an overweight Marlon Brando and Dennis Hopper, Coppola also had a typhoon to deal with, unreliable Filipino extras,  nervous breakdowns, rising production costs and having to replace his original lead actor, Harvey Keitel, after just the first two weeks. That he ended up creating one of if not THE greatest war movie of all-time is a miraculous sign of just how much blood, sweat and tears went into piecing this masterpiece together.

All of that being said, some directors just don’t seem to know when to leave well enough alone. Of all those who release special extended director’s cut editions, James Cameron easily has the best track record. Francis Ford Coppola has thankfully never attempted to “improve” his “Godfather” movies, but 2001’s “Apocalypse Now Redux” was a bitter disappointment, and a clearly inferior film to the more familiar 1979 cut. I have no problem criticizing this version with extreme prejudice! Nearly an hour’s worth of footage was added, and none of it makes anything resembling a welcome contribution. Especially puzzling is the decision to reinstate the French rubber plantation scene. This scene does so much to slow down the pacing of the movie that it would be like if Peter Jackson had integrated the much-talked about “Tom Bombadil” scene from J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” into 2001’s “The Fellowship of the Ring.” The crew can get where they’re headed just fine without having to make that elongated pit stop. The first time I saw “Apocalypse Now,” it was on a fullscreen VHS copy from my local video store. It made such an impression on me that I had not returned the tape before running out to purchase my own copy, this time in widescreen as it is meant to be viewed. If you haven’t seen “Apocalypse Now” and have been unsure as to which version is the best one to watch, I’m telling you now that the original version is the only one your eyes should ever witness. To do otherwise would be madness.