- Not Your Typical Mayan Family Drama 1/15/2007 12:00:00 AM by ccrivelli2005
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.
- I couldn't believe two hours had gone by that quickly 12/8/2006 12:00:00 AM by socrates99
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.
- The Artist As A Tough/Rough Man 1/16/2007 12:00:00 AM by carlostallman
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"
- Probably one of the ten best movies of the year 12/9/2006 12:00:00 AM by ewporter
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.
- A Brilliant Message About Civilization 12/8/2006 12:00:00 AM by Rick Shur
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.