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Overall Rating

Awesome: 35.04%
Worth A Look37.96%
Average: 9.49%
Pretty Bad: 11.68%
Total Crap: 5.84%

8 reviews, 89 user ratings

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by Erik Childress

"Don’t Blink Or You’ll Miss The Poc-E-Clypse"
4 stars

Mel Gibson is the kind of madman cinephiles like me just love. When he sets out to do a project he commits to it with such an unwavering passion that a completely tightened screw would throw a wrinkle into it. As an actor he had a fiery joy that was inescapable and its sad that we may never see him in front of the camera ever again due to his off-screen shenanigans (which replaced Tom Cruise as nut-of-the-month and was soon replaced himself by Michael Richards), but I’m perfectly comfortable in allowing his work in the director’s chair to speak for itself – even when a project like Apocalypto doesn’t have a whole lot to say upon first viewing.

Set in an unspecified period in Mayan culture, we are introduced to the tight-knit village of hunters and their families. After a successful animal hunt that foreshadows events to come, Jaguar Paw (Rudy Youngblood) divides up the innards as part of an Oz-like ritual to grant strength to each individual. As a joke he offers up the boar’s testicles to his brother, not as a knock on his bravery but to provide him the potentcy to give his wife (and nagging mother-in-law) a child. Jaguar Paw has shown no deficiency in this area, already with one son (Carlos Emilio Baez) and his wife, Seven (Dalia Hernandez), very pregnant with another. Days are for work, but nights belong to the community as they gather around the fire and listen to tales of man taking all they can from the world until it has nothing left to offer.

Coming to take theirs is another group of more ruthless natives, slaughtering the villagers and taking those deemed the strongest as their captives. Jaguar Paw manages to hide his wife and child in a nearby pit before succumbing to capture by skull-laden Zero Wolf (Raoul Trujillo) and his psychotic number two, Snake Ink (Rodolfo Palacios). They march their prisoners on a grueling trek through the jungle towards the central city and provided with reminders that famine and sickness are all around them and the prophecies of world’s end may be closer than they think.

Gibson and co-writer Farhad Safinia structure Apocalypto as an elongated three-sequence chapter play with introductions, the journey into the heart of darkness and eventual escape. The initial attack concluding with Jaguar Paw watching his father executed by a throat slash (plus the generous helpings of light blue war paint) will no doubt remind anyone of the similar beginnings of Gibson’s Braveheart. But it’s another tale of a young man who loses everything only to grow into an avenging warrior that Apocalypto more closely resembles – one Conan the Barbarian – complete with Babel-like temples, stair-bouncing heads and an execution worthy of Schwazenegger’s career body double.

This middle passage designed to provide further clues into the forthcoming collapse of Mayan civilization and extended sufferage to supplement our hero’s desire for revenge is also the most problematic. Though peppered with a few complications, the journey takes up about 45 minutes and feels longer than any sidetrip mustered by Sam & Frodo. Lots of walking and then a long intro of the city itself which appears to have everything but a Thunderdome. Heading stomach-first right back into Braveheart’s tortuous crowd amusements, the prisoners are summoned to be sacrifices for the Gods - and faster than you can say “Oh-num-she-vie”, man has become the animal.

Once you’re able to separate yourself from the spectacle and violence that Gibson flourishes in, I suspect the parallels he’s attempting to draw will play much clearer to those on board expecting the bloodbath associated with Braveheart and The Passion of the Christ. On the surface, Apocalypto isn’t much more than an extended riff on the revenge/chase genre where man equally becomes the hunter and the hunted. The non-stop third sequence of Jaguar Paw’s race to save himself and his family is what will justify your admission fee even if I couldn’t personally help but think of Ray Liotta’s jungle run in No Escape. Gibson finds new ways to gore-it-up and it’s a satisfying end to Jaguar Paw’s quest for vilification.

Much of my appreciation for Apocalypto is coming upon reflection of Gibson’s vision more than being in-the-moment of it all. Just days earlier, a friend and I were discussing Gibson’s motivations for going right back to the language barrier with this story. His divine intervention for The Passion was a self-evident (but cinematically superior) brand of faith preaching, but would there be any connection to Gibson’s modus operandi of religious upheaval? While not obvious at first, his climactic defining of his title (translated as “a new beginning”) plays more like a Shyamalan-esque twist than a pivotal changing of history’s guard. What’s truly challenging about it though is the ironic displacement of anyone’s God as the all-knowing presence in the face of our fellow man constantly preaching the myths as the key to survival. Apocalypto is a purely cinematical experience first and an exercise in storytelling second. It wouldn’t take much to appease the Church of Cinema, but like any good historical mass, a 15-minute trim wouldn’t have killed the messenger – or the message.

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originally posted: 12/08/06 16:23:59
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Fantastic Fest For more in the 2006 Fantastic Fest series, click here.

User Comments

9/01/20 morris campbell brutal & boring sorry 2 offend any fans 1 stars
8/05/14 sara ausome movie 5 stars
10/06/11 TC Lol its not history. there is no historical account of a man named jaguar paw 5 stars
5/16/11 sam bonner apoalypto is an amazing, one of a kind movie and no honest person could deny it 5 stars
8/23/10 Stephen O'Donnell This film is an epic in every respect. The Academy is disgraced!!! 5 stars
8/04/09 Steve Hock Great movie! Great Kukulkan! 5 stars
9/05/08 Bob Uninspiring. The chase scene is well done, however a bit overkill timewise. 3 stars
8/27/08 Shaun Wallner Awesome storyline! 4 stars
6/04/08 ASH I thought this movie was excellent 5 stars
5/13/08 Dion Kay Get educated & lrn d history! This is NOT fiction or Star Wars, this IS HISTORY, u idiots! 5 stars
4/19/08 Karrie Millheim An amazing movie, i liked learning more about the Mayans 5 stars
3/08/08 Pamela White gripping story, filming, location and acting makes you forget subtitles 5 stars
2/12/08 Lorenzo Electrifying. A veritable masterpiece. 5 stars
12/17/07 gibson' alter ego got it too. a nutcase making crap & butchering history for his friend Mr jesus. hallelujah 1 stars
11/29/07 Dee "I got it", if you believe in Christ, (and I do) you are thankful he is your God. 5 stars
10/30/07 Double M I kept wondering what the point is till the 'end'. should've known better(signs). Tyvm, Mel 1 stars
10/16/07 beau a very upbeat movie, well made on a low budget, actors took good direction from mel 4 stars
8/18/07 Jubei A well filmed movie with very little research on Mayan culture.Entertaining. 3 stars
8/13/07 Annonomiss Brutal violence, endless chase. Really tough to watch. 2 stars
8/09/07 EZ $$ Great movie a little strange but still great 4 stars
7/29/07 Charles Tatum Solid, but not nearly the gorefest you are led to believe 4 stars
7/18/07 Indrid Cold Skillfully made, but about as deep as a frisbee. 3 stars
7/11/07 TreeTiger Excellent movie ... Braveheart in the Jungle. 5 stars
7/07/07 adam review the movie, not the director. you seem to have trouble with that (see:transformers) 5 stars
7/05/07 Piz Great Cinematic Adventure, a little gratuity but a great central character to root for 4 stars
6/19/07 sam bonner much better than people were expecting. A violent view of a lost world. 5 stars
6/16/07 mr.mike much better than expected 4 stars
6/06/07 tracey chambers beautiful movie. very violent but still a great movie 5 stars
6/03/07 fools♫gold People who charted the stars had no sanitation? I dunno... 5 stars
6/01/07 the wizz don't eat before watching. quite gory and intense. good movie 4 stars
5/14/07 matt Very enjoyable but not very deep. Hugely violent so basic Gibson fare 4 stars
5/09/07 Cindy awesome 5 stars
3/18/07 Alice Good work mel ! Great actors, visually perfect. 5 stars
2/24/07 Regina George didn't really survive the school bus accident Drags at first, then suspense mushrooms, then overkill at end. 4 stars
2/22/07 Beau extremely compelling, cant stop thinking about it!!! 4 stars
1/31/07 cherrian eecen an empty cinema at 9pm on Tuesday cheap night. A wonderful feeling of disquiet as I left 5 stars
1/25/07 tony L THE BEST MOVIE OF ALL TIME!!!! Action Packed! Symbolic. 5 stars
1/17/07 subba Daring and bold direction from Mel and a worth watch on big screen. 4 stars
1/15/07 Sumixam Fantastic movie - Very enjoyable 5 stars
1/09/07 MP Bartley Bold and vivid, if just more of Gibson's obsession with naked men being tortured. 4 stars
1/09/07 daveyt A touch predictable plot-wise with gratuitous gore decent movie none the less 4 stars
1/04/07 DINA unexpected plot, but worth of seeing... 4 stars
1/01/07 norman grant it's about the humility each civilization should have of itself. 4 stars
12/28/06 Agent Sands Though I don't stand for the animal violence, it's directed with intense realism. 3 stars
12/27/06 Jim Accomplishes the rare trick of making the Spanish conquistadors seem maybe not so bad. 4 stars
12/27/06 Mauro the best! 5 stars
12/27/06 Brian Great Movie, its harsh critics are exposed as narrowed by their bias. 5 stars
12/26/06 Man out 6 bucks Eye candy, pointless story. A Mexican 1st Blood Pt. 1. Jaguar Paw is Mayan illiterate. 3 stars
12/26/06 John M. Best movie I saw so far this year (which is over now). Go see it!! 5 stars
12/22/06 Joe Historically flawed, but a superb action film and bold cinematic experiment. 5 stars
12/19/06 Sam as much as I didn't want to like this movie it won me over 4 stars
12/18/06 Criddic2 Nicely photographed, exciting and entertaining. 4 stars
12/18/06 Barry I gave it a C minus until the Christians came to save the day. Final grade: D+ 1 stars
12/17/06 Dave Good film, great action, good acting. Gibson does it again! 5 stars
12/16/06 Sylvia True story. Loved it! 5 stars
12/16/06 Quigley Not as gory as people say, but still pretty gruesome. Mel's direction is good. Wait for DVD 3 stars
12/16/06 Brian Mckay Last of the Mohicans - without Whitey. Watchable, but not much of a story. 3 stars
12/15/06 Ole Man Bourbon Bad film, ridiculously great movie. Lots to digest from this product of Mad Mel 5 stars
12/15/06 Roger Ebert If you guys keep reading shit like this, you will smell of shit..Mel Gibson sucks 5 stars
12/15/06 shaun lawton Narrowminded, simplistic, thoroughly UNoriginal, give it up Mel 2 stars
12/15/06 christina whatever,he displayed the mayans pretty accurately,and they were violent.still some errors. 5 stars
12/15/06 orpy mixture of Predator & Last of the Mohicans! Laughable! 2 stars
12/14/06 Dave C Good Movie - more gore in the first five min of Private Ryan than in the whole movie. 5 stars
12/14/06 La Mancha Those who don't like it are hystrical wusses. Loved it! 5 stars
12/14/06 Jeremy best movie of 2006 5 stars
12/13/06 excitement lover mel gibsond rules!!!!! apocalypto the way to go!!!!!!! 5 stars
12/13/06 jdean62 Not a Gibson fan !! However I was surprised i loved the movie... 4 stars
12/12/06 Ray Lanthier pathology + lotsamoney + racism+ historical inaccuracies = Apocalypto 1 stars
12/12/06 john D dumb movie but pretty. Would bo ignored if it wasn't for Gibson 1 stars
12/12/06 Tiffany awesome movie!! 5 stars
12/12/06 Timothy Wilken Important Film for all adults. Much to think about. Masterpiece!!! 5 stars
12/11/06 Luisa great movie, great actors...unforgettable 5 stars
12/11/06 margo this movie kicks ass 5 stars
12/11/06 Chuck Banner More like ridiculoso. Another history from Mel based on heresay. 1 stars
12/11/06 John Eaglehawk great film.. Gibson puts it all on the line. tells it like it was.. 5 stars
12/11/06 steph Best movie i seen in jaguarpaw 5 stars
12/11/06 lee Better than most action flicks out today!!!!!!! 5 stars
12/11/06 Nighy Another cinematic masterbation by Mel Gibson- pathetic. 1 stars
12/11/06 Kimberly Lynn Cole FANTASTIC film, visually purely stunning 5 stars
12/11/06 scotty great movie. is not as gory as a lot of reviewers have made it out to be 5 stars
12/11/06 Rob Adcox Outstanding film -and #1 at the box office! 5 stars
12/11/06 ahnold Engaging good vs evil story. Almost 2 much gore/sadism. Worth 1 look. 4 stars
12/10/06 Carl Chappell It's very fast. But I thought they ate the corpses? 4 stars
12/10/06 Craig Best movie of the year. "Anti-immigration" propaganda my ass. 5 stars
12/10/06 scott the best and worst of humanity captured in an amazing film. 5 stars
12/10/06 adam g b kyklux tempus, a hollow experiance! faith , no? 4 stars
12/10/06 ed christensen surprisingly excellent. oscar worthy, but given gibson's recent indiscretion, no chance. 5 stars
12/09/06 action movie fan spectacular, stunning brethtaking the naked prey the fugirive--a modern action film set in 5 stars
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  08-Dec-2006 (R)
  DVD: 22-May-2007



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