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Overall Rating

Awesome: 35.29%
Worth A Look38.24%
Just Average: 9.56%
Pretty Crappy: 11.76%
Sucks: 5.15%

8 reviews, 88 user ratings

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by Rob Gonsalves

"Nasty, brutish, and not short enough."
2 stars

Mel Gibson, I think, is missing his true calling as a director of horror movies.

He has an eye for arresting imagery (well, he’s got good taste in cinematographers — Dances with Wolves’ Dean Semler does the honors here), he can set up and sustain suspense, and he has a knack for ominous, oppressive moods — impending doom, the looming threat of agonizing physical catastrophe. Say what you will about Gibson’s extracurricular idiocies and Cro-Magnon-Catholic obsessions — the crazy bastard can direct. He has yet, however, to find material that allows him to produce anything more than brutal technical exercises.

Apocalypto comes advertised with all sorts of deep-bass noises about its thematic significance. We’re meant to look upon the desperately bloody experience of the Mayans and ponder why civilizations die. But then the movie — even its title trembles with epic foreboding — offers us a joke about a gullible tribe member eating tapir testicles before the film’s five minutes old. That’s when you remember Mel the prankster and Three Stooges fan. After the high-mass seriousness of The Passion of the Christ, Gibson indulges in a good deal of slapstick in order to humanize the central tribe, who will soon fall to the vicious will of a more advanced city tribe. An idea, arguable but at least interesting, pops up out of this — slavery is the price of civilization — and then dies of loneliness.

What this thing turns out to be is a skimpy action flick, in which the hero Jaguar Paw (Rudy Youngblood) must escape his captors and make it back to his forest, where his pregnant wife (Dalia Hernandez) and young son wait in a deep hole. Jaguar Paw runs and runs, spurred on by the memory of his father admonishing him to avoid fear. He’s pursued by the fearsome Zero Wolf (Raoul Trujillo), who wears some sort of animal jaw around his own, and at one point regards a fallen tree that’s nearly crushed him and says “I am walking here” — Gibson’s tip of the hat to Midnight Cowboy, perhaps, though Zero Wolf stops short of slapping the tree defiantly.

Rudy Youngblood has hard/soft features and full lips — he resembles Vin Diesel — and he and Dalia Hernandez have some playful early moments. Gibson doesn’t just do brutality — he has a gentle touch. But the gentleness is just there so we can mourn its passing when the violence starts. Apocalypto isn’t nearly as grotesque as you might have heard, unless you haven’t seen any action movies or horror movies in the last three decades. I can describe the events — hearts yanked out, heads lopped off, a jaguar feasting on a man’s face — and they sound harsh in print, but they’re shown glancingly. Whatever else it is, this isn’t Touchstone’s (i.e. Disney’s) answer to Cannibal Holocaust. All the suffering, though, adds up to the usual Mel Gibson template: Lone hero endures immense pain and stands up against impossible odds. Twenty years ago Gibson could’ve painted himself brown and played Jaguar Paw himself.

Apocalypto wouldn’t be “controversial” at all if Gibson hadn’t drunk himself into a Jew-bashing stupor last summer — and in retrospect, that little slip of the lip might’ve helped the movie more than hurt it, because it kept the buzz alive. Gibson has always been dark and troubled, and he’s becoming more volubly cranky as he ages but also more intriguingly transparent in his work. What, for instance, are we to make of the ending, in which our hero triumphs over everything only to face the boats full of Christians ready to ensure that the Mayans either embrace God or die?

Gibson gives us a savage, innocent, beautiful culture out there in the forest and then tells us that between violent civilization and encroaching monotheism, that culture was doomed. Whether he says this regretfully or with a kind of “God happens” shrug is anyone’s guess.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=15289&reviewer=416
originally posted: 12/10/06 16:36:21
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Fantastic Fest For more in the 2006 Fantastic Fest series, click here.

User Comments

8/04/14 sara ausome movie 5 stars
10/05/11 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
8/22/10 Stephen O'Donnell This film is an epic in every respect. The Academy is disgraced!!! 5 stars
8/03/09 Steve Hock Great movie! Great Kukulkan! 5 stars
9/04/08 Bob Uninspiring. The chase scene is well done, however a bit overkill timewise. 3 stars
8/26/08 Shaun Wallner Awesome storyline! 4 stars
6/03/08 ASH I thought this movie was excellent 5 stars
5/12/08 Dion Kay Get educated & lrn d history! This is NOT fiction or Star Wars, this IS HISTORY, u idiots! 5 stars
4/18/08 Karrie Millheim An amazing movie, i liked learning more about the Mayans 5 stars
3/07/08 Pamela White gripping story, filming, location and acting makes you forget subtitles 5 stars
2/12/08 Lorenzo Electrifying. A veritable masterpiece. 5 stars
12/16/07 gibson' alter ego got it too. a nutcase making crap & butchering history for his friend Mr jesus. hallelujah 1 stars
11/28/07 Dee "I got it", if you believe in Christ, (and I do) you are thankful he is your God. 5 stars
10/29/07 Double M I kept wondering what the point is till the 'end'. should've known better(signs). Tyvm, Mel 1 stars
10/15/07 beau a very upbeat movie, well made on a low budget, actors took good direction from mel 4 stars
8/17/07 Jubei A well filmed movie with very little research on Mayan culture.Entertaining. 3 stars
8/12/07 Annonomiss Brutal violence, endless chase. Really tough to watch. 2 stars
8/08/07 EZ $$ Great movie a little strange but still great 4 stars
7/28/07 Charles Tatum Solid, but not nearly the gorefest you are led to believe 4 stars
7/17/07 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
7/06/07 adam review the movie, not the director. you seem to have trouble with that (see:transformers) 5 stars
7/04/07 Piz Great Cinematic Adventure, a little gratuity but a great central character to root for 4 stars
6/18/07 sam bonner much better than people were expecting. A violent view of a lost world. 5 stars
6/15/07 mr.mike much better than expected 4 stars
6/05/07 tracey chambers beautiful movie. very violent but still a great movie 5 stars
6/02/07 fools♫gold People who charted the stars had no sanitation? I dunno... 5 stars
5/31/07 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
5/08/07 Cindy awesome 5 stars
3/17/07 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
2/21/07 Beau extremely compelling, cant stop thinking about it!!! 4 stars
1/30/07 cherrian eecen an empty cinema at 9pm on Tuesday cheap night. A wonderful feeling of disquiet as I left 5 stars
1/24/07 tony L THE BEST MOVIE OF ALL TIME!!!! Action Packed! Symbolic. 5 stars
1/16/07 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
1/08/07 MP Bartley Bold and vivid, if just more of Gibson's obsession with naked men being tortured. 4 stars
1/08/07 daveyt A touch predictable plot-wise with gratuitous gore decent movie none the less 4 stars
1/03/07 DINA unexpected plot, but worth of seeing... 4 stars
12/31/06 norman grant it's about the humility each civilization should have of itself. 4 stars
12/27/06 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
12/26/06 Mauro the best! 5 stars
12/26/06 Brian Great Movie, its harsh critics are exposed as narrowed by their bias. 5 stars
12/25/06 Man out 6 bucks Eye candy, pointless story. A Mexican 1st Blood Pt. 1. Jaguar Paw is Mayan illiterate. 3 stars
12/25/06 John M. Best movie I saw so far this year (which is over now). Go see it!! 5 stars
12/21/06 Joe Historically flawed, but a superb action film and bold cinematic experiment. 5 stars
12/18/06 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
12/16/06 Dave Good film, great action, good acting. Gibson does it again! 5 stars
12/15/06 Sylvia True story. Loved it! 5 stars
12/15/06 Quigley Not as gory as people say, but still pretty gruesome. Mel's direction is good. Wait for DVD 3 stars
12/15/06 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
12/14/06 Roger Ebert If you guys keep reading shit like this, you will smell of shit..Mel Gibson sucks 5 stars
12/14/06 shaun lawton Narrowminded, simplistic, thoroughly UNoriginal, give it up Mel 2 stars
12/14/06 christina whatever,he displayed the mayans pretty accurately,and they were violent.still some errors. 5 stars
12/14/06 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
12/12/06 excitement lover mel gibsond rules!!!!! apocalypto the way to go!!!!!!! 5 stars
12/12/06 jdean62 Not a Gibson fan !! However I was surprised i loved the movie... 4 stars
12/11/06 Ray Lanthier pathology + lotsamoney + racism+ historical inaccuracies = Apocalypto 1 stars
12/11/06 john D dumb movie but pretty. Would bo ignored if it wasn't for Gibson 1 stars
12/11/06 Tiffany awesome movie!! 5 stars
12/11/06 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 years..love jaguarpaw 5 stars
12/10/06 lee Better than most action flicks out today!!!!!!! 5 stars
12/10/06 Nighy Another cinematic masterbation by Mel Gibson- pathetic. 1 stars
12/10/06 Kimberly Lynn Cole FANTASTIC film, visually purely stunning 5 stars
12/10/06 scotty great movie. is not as gory as a lot of reviewers have made it out to be 5 stars
12/10/06 Rob Adcox Outstanding film -and #1 at the box office! 5 stars
12/10/06 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
12/09/06 Craig Best movie of the year. "Anti-immigration" propaganda my ass. 5 stars
12/09/06 scott the best and worst of humanity captured in an amazing film. 5 stars
12/09/06 adam g b kyklux tempus, a hollow experiance! faith , no? 4 stars
12/09/06 ed christensen surprisingly excellent. oscar worthy, but given gibson's recent indiscretion, no chance. 5 stars
12/08/06 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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