Apocalypto Review
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Set centuries ago in the Mayan kingdom, Mel Gibson’s latest cinematic adventure, Apocalypto, tells the story of Jaguar Paw (Rudy Youngblood), a young man whose village is attacked by Mayan warriors. Before he joins his friends to fight against their attackers, however, he hides his young son and his pregnant wife in a pit and promises to return for them. Many of the villagers—including Jaguar Paw’s father—are killed in the battle, and the survivors are tied up and forced to walk to an unfamiliar city, where, they discover from paintings on the walls, they’re destined to be sacrificed.

Determined that it’s not yet his time to go, Jaguar Paw escapes being sacrificed. He flees the city—followed by several of the warriors who captured him—and he attempts to find his way home to his wife and son.

I can’t tell you how Mel Gibson really feels about Jews. Nor can I tell you if he’s a genius or if he’s just completely lost his mind. But after seeing both The Passion of the Christ and Apocalypto, I can, however, tell you how he feels about blood. Mel Gibson has no problem with blood. In fact, he loves it. The more, the merrier. The grislier, the better. Apocalypto shows men impaled and beheaded. It shows men watching as they’re cut open, their hearts ripped from inside them. It holds nothing back. And if reading about it turns your stomach, be prepared to spend the majority of the film as the girl beside me did—with your hands covering your face.

Filmed entirely in Maya, Apocalypto relies on subtitles—but there aren’t really that many. There’s quite a bit of dialogue in the beginning, when the film establishes Jaguar Paw’s character (some scenes of which, incidentally, are just plain silly). But once the villagers are taken—and especially after Jaguar Paw escapes—there’s very little dialogue at all. The story relies entirely on its action.

Beheadings aside, I found Apocalypto to be fascinating. Whether it’s accurate is debatable—but it never lost my interest. On top of that, it’s visually stunning. Mel Gibson may be crazy, but he’s an incredible director (as long as you forget about his little gore obsession). And Rudy Youngblood is an engaging actor who does an amazing job with a demanding role.

There is, however, one major problem. Gibson’s last film, The Passion of the Christ, had a powerful message that reached out to a specific group of viewers. People who saw the movie, for the most part, had a strong emotional connection to it. It was moving. And the violence—as horrifying as it was—had a purpose. Apocalypto, however, doesn’t have that purpose. Perhaps Gibson is trying to tell us something with all the human sacrifices—but the message doesn’t come through. Instead, the film comes off like another one of this year’s multitude of horror movies—only with a bunch of Mayans instead of the usual screaming blonde girl.

Had Gibson left a few things to the imagination, Apocalypto could have been a breathtaking film with a captivating story. But, unfortunately, instead of making it more powerful, the gore only detracts from the story. So unless you can handle a couple of hours of blood and guts and organ harvesting, it’s best to pass on this one.

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