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Apocalypto [2006] - 12.48

Forget any off-screen impressions you may have of Mel Gibson, and experience Apocalypto as the mad, bloody runaway train that it is. The story is set in the pre-Columbian Maya population: one village is brutally overrun, its residents either slaughtered or abducted, by a ruling tribe that needs slaves and human sacrifices. We focus on the capable warrior Jaguar Paw (Rudy Youngblood), although Gibson skillfully sketches a whole population of characters--many of whom don't survive the early reels. Most of the film is set in the dense jungle, but the middle section, in a grand Mayan city, is a dazzling triumph of design, costuming, and sheer decadent terror. The movie itself is a triumph of brutality, as Gibson lets loose his well-established fascination with bodily mortification in a litany of assaults including impalement, evisceration, snakebite, and bee stings. It's a dark, disgusted vision, but Gibson doesn't forget to apply some very canny moviemaking instincts to the violence--including the creation of a tremendous pair of villains (strikingly played by Raoul Trujillo and Rodolfo Palacias). The film is in a Maya dialect, subtitled in English, and shot on digital video (which occasionally betrays itself in some blurry quick pans). Amidst all the mayhem, nothing in the film is more devastating than a final wordless exchange of looks between captured villager Blunted (Jonathan Brewer) and his wife's mother (Maria Isabel Diaz), a superb change in tone from their early relationship. Yes, this is an obsessive, crazed movie, but Gibson knows what he's doing. --Robert Horton

Customer reviews (av rating: 4.0):

Rating: 5:
Awesome : I have yet to find someone who has watched this and didn't like it. If I met Mel I'd slap him for the passion and shake his hand for this movie, it was really beautifully made, a must see for people who can stomach a bit of violence to watch an epic movie.

Rating: 3:
Whot, no calendar? : Apart from all the other errors - the Maya culture evaporated long before the conquistadores invaded the area - didn't the Mayas create some of the most accurate calendars in the history of man? The creators of Stonehenge could predict solar eclipses. the Mayas could not? Come on, one lame excuse for a story!

Rating: 4:
No need to hold off from this movie because it's not that violent : First off when this film first came out the teaser was misleading, the trailer also does not really leads the viewer to what this movie is about. The poster does not help either. My impression was, this movie is some Sci-Fi fantasy about Maya, probably something not close, but similar to "Stargate". The poster even made me think of "Alien vs. Predator".

Instead the movie is portraying the ancient world of Mesoamerican people, as well as tracking the end of the ancient civilizations, through the story of Jaguar's Paw - a captured warrior in a rescue to his family. It doesn't portray the fall of the Mayan Empire, it's not supposed to, it just tells a story, It does not set out to be a history of the arrival of European's in the Mayan area. Horrific as it may be, it's a love story at the end of the day along with a lot of action. Even then, much of the violence is Shakespearean and takes place just off-camera. For instance, you see women being carried off in the rape-and-pillage scene and you hear their cries but you don't see them being raped and murdered. Battles are staged much as they were in "Braveheart." And yes, there's a beating heart lifted from a sacrificed man's chest by a blood-streaked Mayan shaman, but moviegoers saw the same thing in Spielberg's Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom; it got a PG rating and we read no critical hysterics about "lunatic violence." On the whole, you'll see as much blood and gore on the average CSI episode.

After watching this film, it probably should have been titled "Jaguar Paw's Great Adventure." The glimpses Gibson provides of Mayan civilization are jaw-dropping. You won't ever see a more convincing cinematic evocation of another time and place in such scope and meticulous detail. Every face seems to have a complete history as Jaguar Paw is marched through the Mayan city. A well-to-do Mayan woman does nothing more than look at the prisoners from her doorway but the story her face tells is voluminous.

Mel Gibson has done the impossible. He has created a tale of the Maya's people in different dimension. As an historical observation, the film is brilliant, depicting the violence in most of the movie. Finally, as a work of art, this film is unparalleled. "Apocalypto" will move you. I found it to be one of the most beautiful films I needed to see even though it took me some time to view it but I'm happy that I did. Its dialogue is entirely in Mayan language with English subtitles, a remarkably bold decision by Gibson, and one that pays dividends. On one level it unites an international cast, sparing us any clashing accents, and gives the film a greater sense of authenticity. On another, it forced Gibson and his team into a very visual form of storytelling; even amongst the carnage there are shots of aching beauty. If you still haven't seen it then I suggest you give this one a try. Highly recommended.

Rating: 5:
Gripping : This film is just amazing. I've never seen a film quite like it and I know I'll watch it again and again. You can't put into words how good it is, so you'll just have to buy it. Much as some people might recoil from the gore, I've been to Mayan ruins, read the history and they were incredibly barbaric, so the gore is a much needed factor in this film. Hurrah for Jaguar Paw!!!

Rating: 5:
Wonderful, Gritty, Moving : Don't let the fact that this film is subtitled put you off! This is about an ancient Mayan people and how they were sacrificed to appease Mayan Gods'. The film is funny, it is moving but it transports you to another world. You can actually follow the story without understanding the language int he strictest sence. However, the fact that it is in Mayan, enhances the experience of the film. It tells the story of a tribesman who is a husband, father as well as a warrior. He is just 'a bloke' trying to do his best for his family. Warriors from another tribe attack the village in search of warriors to sacrifice. The action is extremely realistic and the acting is just superb. Won't give too much of the plot away! Lets hope Mel Gibson makes many more like this. It is a really superb film which will have you enthralled from beginning to end!

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