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A family drama like no other. Two hours plus that rush at the speed of light. This is cinema. I'm sorry but it is. Don't look for inner meanings. This is the work of one of the greatest artists of our time. Yes, I'm talking about Mel Gibson. And as most of the great artists, he's bound to be controversial, erratic and infuriating sometimes but, thank God he exists. He's always going to surprise us for better or worse in sickness and in health. There are no intellectual under pinnings here. This is an adventure flick that takes us to places we've never been before. It entertains and moves and startles. Masterfully shot at a breathless pace that never, ever, lets go. And then, of course, the acting - if you can call it that. The most remarkable performances by an ensemble cast of unknowns. Gloroious faces that speak louder than words. Well, as you may have guessed. I'm overwhelmed by the experience. Thank you Mel, thank you very much.
Having some Mexican-Indian blood in me, I've always been interested in
what I could read about the Aztecs and Mayans and others. But never did
I achieve as elaborate a vision in my head, try as I might, as Mel
Gibson has with the beautiful Apocalypto. Is it accurate? I've more
than just strong doubts in at least one case, but like all good
fiction, it probably tells more truth, despite its inaccuracies, than a
dozen scholarly tomes. The movie is engrossing and, even more
difficult, plausible and quite evocative. I would have bet any amount
of money that this movie was impossible to make. And though some have
complained that the film's ending involves an historical inaccuracy, I
think there was more than enough reason to put it in.
There's a strong story that reminded me of other Third World folklore I've read, only better. In a lot of ways these people could have been North American Indians, but somehow that's not much of a criticism. And Gibson's recent PR problems only highlighted, for me, how it took an Australian-reared actor to make an exciting film about natives before Columbus. Clearly Hollywood is incapable of even conceiving of such a movie, much less bringing it brilliantly to life. Hollywood has an agenda and very narrow perspectives. It's agenda has no room for illuminating the humanity of non-Westerners, and there's too much relying on the same old set of sensibilities and intuition. I think if Hollywood is up in arms it ought to be because Gibson is making them look inept.
But as to this particular subject matter, there's no doubt in my mind that what fascinates most Anglos about the Aztecs and the Maya is the idea of human sacrifice. Gibson depicts the ritual as having an element of frenzy to it, and he may be right, but what is more convincing to me, at least, is his idea of what a village raid must have been like. His point by point reconstruction is pretty compelling, and I'm quite sure he could make some early American military raids on Indian villages so vivid and unforgettable that grown men would cry. I only hope he does, but as to this film, I would have depicted the human sacrifice with a nod toward a notion most Anglos find completely foreign, namely that these people understood that gain often entails pain, and they were willing to pay the price. Was it really so unreasonable that these people thought God might want them to create pain, and not just endure it, to gain His favor given that life entails so much struggle anyway? That willingness to endure pain clearly survives today, not the desire to create it in others, and that's the only point I would have added to this wonderful film.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The reviewers are trying to damn this movie with an untruthful and
insincere mantra about its alleged excess of violence: "brutally
violent," "over-the-top violence," "unrelenting violence,"
"ultraviolent," "The Hills Have Eyes in the jungle," "unpleasant,
pointless, gruesome, and exploitative," "pure, amoral sensationalism,"
"blood and gore
so extreme that they provoke titters of ridicule,"
"savage cruelty and sadistic barbarity," "lunatic violence," "feverish,
mad violence." You'd think from the reviews that you were going to see
two hours of babies being fed through a wood chipper. One went as far
as to claim that it made the Saw movies seem like Little Women or some
It does no such thing. The Saw films were gratuitously and sadisticly violent; they set out to make audiences squirm and blanch at their sick, nihilistic machinations.
Apocalypto, on the other hand, is the typical, essentially optimistic Disney story of a happy Indian youth ripped savagely from his rainforest life by ruthless marauders, after which he has to escape and fight his way back to his land and people. That's it.
The violence arises from the fact that these particular marauders are bloodthirsty Mayan warriors harvesting neighboring tribes for their human sacrifices. 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.
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.
The last part of the movie is a rousing chase akin to The Naked Prey, and again, no more bloody and violent then the film it resembles.
Let's be plain here. What really has the critics'--especially those of the Eastern Elite variety--panties in a twist is the director, Mel Gibson. He said some things that upset them, plus (and most unforgivably) he's an outspoken and conservative Christian, so they're going to practice any sort of mendacity that will keep people from buying tickets to his film.
Don't buy the lies or you'll miss an amazing movie.
I'll keep this review short. I'm dense as to what "message" Apocalypto
may have been trying to send. I'm not convinced it's a message movie at
all. The film's value lies in its limitless ability to pump adrenaline.
The movie belongs in the action section when it goes to video. And in
that genre, hardly another movie will be able to hold a candle to it.
Apocalypto delivers a rush that does not let up. Once the real action starts, brilliant images unlike any showcased in cinema flash across the screen with dizzying speed. Repeatedly and without letting up, the movie features scene after scene that hits the perfect note, which is always a high-pitched one filled with tension. Apocalypto is the perfect action film, punctuating its frenzy of activity with beautiful and surprising images.
One of the roughest, toughest art films I've ever seen. Remarkable, sensational. Non a mean task to put aside all the gossip surrounding the man behind this miracle and look at "Apocalypto" for what it is : a startling piece of art done by one of the most startling artists of our time. But I was able to do exactly that and sit there open mouthed, totally transported to the world Mel Gibson had in store for me. I don't want to get into any spoilers but let me tell you there are, at least, 4 moments - not merely technical but emotional - that are a first for the movies. There is violence in the film yes, but not nearly as much as in "Casino Royale" and definitely more justified. I'll take my wife next time, she stayed home, brainwashed by the avalanche of misinformation claiming it was one of the most violent films ever made. I know my wife well enough to know she will love "Apocalypto"
Apocalypto is certainly Gibsons finest work. The end product is a masterwork displaying his true prowess in film making. The visuals are beautiful equaled only by the clever camera display in producing a truly entrenching experience. One can't help but feel supremely involved with this movie, as the viewer is lead through a vivid culture and world of which I personally believe (although perhaps not historically accurate) produced an accurate image of life and its intricacies. This film is relentless, and the violence is not easily avoided by the camera, only adding to the grasping nature of this film, as the viewer is forced, as the Mayans are, to watch the massacre and demise of there brethren, ones own visceral responses in key with those of the suffering (albeit to a much lesser degree, something conjured only within the viewers mind). The only thing that bothered me viewing this film were the immature audience members to my flank, giggling gaily at the sight of an almost bare bottom, or a partially exposed bosom. I feel the gore in this movie was appropriate given the circumstances. I mean, what would one expect from a human sacrifice? Or two people at battle? This film simply more accurately depicts the events that take place during such trying times, and it is this unrelenting quality that I believe the majority of viewers who do not like this movie are maladaptive to. Certainly worth dishing out the seven dollars to see this one, both for psychological viewers, as well as action chasers. 10/10
Say what you want about Mel Gibson, but he knows how to make an authentically real statement about the human condition. The movie is about civilization and how smaller is better. There are some rain-forest dwelling American natives, somewhere in America where there are jaguars and monkeys. Then there are some "civilized" natives, with a huge society of nobles, serfs, slaves and sacrificial victims who get their hearts torn out and heads chopped off on top of a pyramid, for the appeasement of their gods and for the sake of controlling and entertaining the "citizens." Our noble small villagers of the forest are ultimately hunted down and enslaved by the more organized, and totally vicious, pyramid builders. This is a story of how one of these villagers deals with the horrific trials that his captors heap upon him. The whole movie is in an ancient native language, subtitled in English, and it lends an air of excruciating authenticity to the happenings. One gets the feeling of being a time traveler, as this 500-year-old world seems so real, with every detail of weaponry, cookware, clothing, jewelry, labor practices, buildings, village characters, and sacrificial ceremonies so obviously researched that it made me feel uncomfortably like I was involved in it all. We are constantly getting the crowd's point of view of all the empire's activities and abuse of its captives and underlings. There is a lot to look at here, from God's beautiful nature to man's nightmarish creations, so it deserves to be seen on a big screen.
Apocalypto is probably one of the ten best movies of the year, a compelling action movie with not only adrenaline, but also brains and heart. Its portrayal of the Mayan culture -- including its strange dress, hair styles, costumes, tattoos, body piercing, and decorative scars, as well as its industry, class system, cities, warfare, weapons, myth, and religion -- provide a bizarre and fascinating anthropological backdrop for what is, at its heart, a solid, thrilling, fast paced old fashioned struggle between good guys and bad guys. The movie does have a lot of violence. But the violence is woven into a story with characters we care about. It is a realistic part of the culture being described. And it is not shown in a hyper gruesome manner, as is much of movie violence today. Thus, I found it much less offensive than many reviews had led me to believe I would. Unlike in some movies, I found the subtitles in Apocalypto so easy to read that most of time I forgot I was reading them. If anything the strange language only adds to the tone of exotic strangeness that pervades this unusually good and thrilling movie.
Though I had no interest in the subject, I took a risk and just came
back from seeing Mel Gibson's new flick and it is an exciting adventure
which engages from the start with touches of humor that allow us to
relate to the characters rather than hold them at a distance.
The accusation that it portrays the people unfairly has no merit. Both sides of human nature doubtless existed in each culture from the start. Look at The Fast Runner - a movie about a much smaller aboriginal community in which we see no matter how small your clan is someone will be a criminal and all soap opera elements will be represented.
Rudy Youngblood especially stands out here as the hero. Reading the subtitles will add comic relief to your screening, but the story itself plays visually. Again more is made of the violence than there should be. There is violence but it moves the story along and generates suspense.
I would give it a ten except that I understand IMDb sometimes discounts the tens and ones. Even if you had political reasons you did not like The Passion - or Braveheart for that matter - if you like a good motion picture Apocalypto is a good bet.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Mel Gibson obviously has some major demons but maybe that is what makes
him such a masterful storyteller.Apocalypto is his latest and IMO his
greatest film, this film plays out like the bastard freak brother of
the Fugitive, it is wildly entertaining and violently sick, it also is
an allegory of todays society.The images in this film are breathtaking,
shot with the genesis digital cameras this is the best looking digital
film out to date, the cinematography is superb, the costumes,make up
and art direction are top notch.The acting is a real surprise since
Gibson casted actors with no experience at all, yet they are
convincing.What Mel Gibson has directed here is like an ultra violent
yet very entertaining action/adventure chase film, the best one in
years, this is a must see, and for people worrying about subtitles, do
not worry, they are simple and brisk.
I give this film my highest mark, its one of the best films of 2006.
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