A Review Of Apocalypto

This week-end, I headed into the theater to catch Mel Gibson’s new flick, Apocalypto. The movie begins with peaceful villagers chasing, killing, and slicing up a tapir and playing a prank. Ah, life seems so care free and happy — until a band of refugees comes wandering by and explains that their land was ravaged. Now, you’d think that if your neighbors were driven from their homes, you might want to know more about it. The intrepid hero of the movie, Jaguar Paw, certainly did. But, his father, Runs with Liberals, Flint Sky keeps him from finding out more and tells the hunters not to inform the village that they may be in danger. Then, he explains to his son that he doesn’t want him to “be afraid,” or “live in fear.” Of course, that sounds a little like the drivel the left has been putting out about the war on terrorism and that prompted me to remember that Mel Gibson had spouted off about Bush helping to inspire Apocalypto.

Film star and director Mel Gibson has launched a scathing attack on US President George W Bush, comparing his leadership to the barbaric rulers of the Mayan civilisation in his new film Apocalypto.

…Gibson reveals he used present day American politics as an inspiration, claiming the government callously plays on the nation’s insecurities to maintain power.

He tells British film magazine Hotdog, “The fear-mongering we depict in the film reminds me of President Bush and his guys”.

So, if Bush’s America represents the Mayan bad guys, does that make Al-Qaeda the innocent villagers? Who knows, but regardless, Flint Sky’s exhortation not to “be afraid,” or “live in fear,” turns out to be the worst advice in the history of moviedom.

That’s because instead of being motivated by fear to prepare for a threat or run away, the hunters keep what happened to themselves, spend the night listening to a fairy tale about owls and jaguars, and wake up the next morning to find Mayans rampaging through their village. The Mayans rape, murder, and enslave the whole village except for the children, who are left to die, and Jaguar Paw’s pregnant wife and son whom he manages to hide in an empty well before he’s captured.

At this point, the tribesmen are marched across country to a Babylon in the jungle, where the Mayans sell them on the slave block and sacrifice them — I could go on, but I don’t want to tell you too much of the plot.

However, I will tell you that the movie, which ran 2 hours and 18 minutes, would have really benefitted from being 20 minutes shorter. Moreover, it’s hard to figure out exactly what the point is of having all the characters speak in Yucatec Maya with subtitles instead of just having them speak English. Now, The Passion Of The Christ? I get what he was going for there. He wanted people to think something like, “Mel Gibson cares so much about making an authentic movie about Christ’s life that he’s actually having the characters speak Aramaic.” That at least makes a certain kind of sense. This doesn’t. Mel should have gone with English or dubbed it.

Let me also add that the movie was quite violent and disturbing — if you’re one of the few people in the modern world who hasn’t quite been completely desensitized to violence yet. The film featured beating hearts being carved out of people’s chests, decapitations, Auschwitz style body pits, squirting skull fractures, brutal combat — it’s fair to say that it’s a gory movie. But, it was also a visually stunning film. The Mayan city was decadent and eye catching, and a spectacle in and of itself. Additionally, the abrupt end of the movie, which was the sort of thing that M. Night Shyamalan would come up with on one of his better days, will probably be a love it or hate it thing for most people.

Long story short: this was a fairly unique movie with lots of action, but the pacing was a little slow and the subtitles were unnecessarily distracting. So, the rating? Thumbs in the middle.

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