Apocalypto Reviews IMDB. Director: Mel Gibson. Writers: Mel Gibson, Farhad Safinia. Stars: Gerardo Taracena, Raoul Max Trujillo, Dalia Hernández. Let me begin by saying I am no fan of Mel Gibson. Actually I am a former fan turned bitter critic. I love his early work as an actor in “Mad Max”, “Gallipoli”, and especially “The Year of Living Dangerously”, but was greatly disappointed by the crap that follow: “Bird on a Wire”, “Air America”, “Maverick”, the “Lethal Weapon” movies, etc. I thought he showed some ambition by playing “Hamlet”, but it seemed more like a desperate attempt by a “movie star” to prove to everybody he could “do serious work”.
Then came “Braveheart”, which I think is fairly entertaining but obviously a rip-off, sort of “Spartacus Goes to England”. Of course Gibson won lots of big awards for that film and became the darling of Hollywood, while I stewed about his renewed popularity. Then came more crap like “Conspiracy Theory”, “What Women Want”, “The Patriot”. He became an actor that I actively avoided at the box office. His anti-Semetic rantings and recent DUI arrest just confirmed what a “tosser” he really was. “See, I told you so.”
Then I saw the trailers for “Apocalypto”. Against my better judgment I bought a ticket, fully prepared to be duped by Gibson once again. Mel, if you’re reading this, all is forgiven.
“Apocalypto” is one of the most exciting, suspenseful, and original films I’ve ever seen. Who’d have thought that a film about Mayan Indians, without a word of English in it, could be so satisfying? The simplicity of the plot, the lushness of the cinematography, the immediacy of the conflict, the brutal honesty of the violence, the dogged determination of the main character, the manic pacing and editing, the thrilling discovery of worlds we’ve never seen before, all combine to make this a fantastic film. Yes it’s violent and bloody, but the violence is appropriate to the subject matter and it’s certainly no worse than most of the artless schlock unleashed upon us every Halloween.
Move over Clint Eastwood, Mel Gibson is ready to challenge you for the title of best actor-turned-director. For the first time in a long, LONG time, I am now looking forward to the next “Mel Gibson” project. It crafts a story so simple as to be almost Homeric in it’s telling. It is said that many “native” people use a vivid and compelling “oral history”, stories that are passed down from one generation to another, very much like the character in this film, Old Story Teller. That is the feel and texture of this movie.
Set during the final days of the great Mayan empire, starting out in the vast jungles, we meet a group of villagers who live in a world of tranquil serenity. This is not a Hollywood version, where everyone seems to have good teeth, sleep well, shave often and have plenty of makeup for the babes. These are “natives” and Gibson doesn’t shy back from the warts and all feel of the place.
But they are a simple people (not simple minded) with simple needs. Enter the bad guys– in this case a raiding party of Mayan’s (we find this out later) who capture as many able bodied villagers as they can, killing only those they have to, even to the point of abandoning the kids under 12, since they have no value at the slave market back at the main city. Our hero has hidden his pregnant woman and their son down a dry well (or some sort of hole in the ground) promising to return– only to be captured and imprisoned with the others.
The trek out of the village to the big city is spectacular! The scope of the film broadens to epic proportions, as visual as the old Biblical flicks of the 50’s and 60’s. Gibson has out done the PASSION OF THE Christ scope here– truly, a cast of thousands! And not Orks or Robots or Clones! These are people– period dress, caste system, beggars and prostitutes, kings and queens, slave dealers, lepers– an incredible film– and all seen through the eyes of our hero! I highly recommend this film! This is not as bloody or as gory as the critics would have you believe! It is grisly– that’s a fact! But the context of the blood letting is all in the story– in fact, I’d say this: in my opinion, there is not one drop of gratuitous blood in this whole movie.
Also, and bet your bottom dollar on this– thank God for Mel Gibson and his independent streak! Hollywood would never have made this movie! The first thing you notice is the good guys and the bad guys, the women and the kids– an not one single homage to old school Hollywood with the slick productions values, perfect makeup and big busted “white girls” playing the Mayan queen or princess or some such hooey! You can taste the attention to detail here! Throwaway scenes that must have cost millions of dollars to recreate– and they get 30 or 50 seconds of screen time! This truly makes me anticipate the next Mel Gibson film. He has reached a level of story telling here that has no equal. A perfect example of what a true artist can do when he (or she) doesn’t have to kiss the a** of the studio exec’s! APOCALYPTO– 9 out of 10– an excellent film!