Reviewed by: Andre Manseau
What's it about
Set in the Mayan civilization, when a man's idyllic presence is brutally disrupted by a violent invading force, he is taken on a perilous journey to a world ruled by fear and oppression where a harrowing end awaits him. Through a twist of fate and spurred by the power of his love for his woman and his family he will make a desperate break to return home and to ultimately save his way of life.
Is it good movie?
It's true, Mel Gibson is undoubtedly a filmmaker with a passion (LOL@pun), and although he's been in a fair amount of hot water for being an alcoholic and an anti-semite, this will all pass, and when all is said and done, Apocalypto will remain standing after the smoke has cleared. Apocalypto is really more of a cinematic experience than simply another film that'll pass in and out of the viewer's mind like so many regrettable matinees.
When I heard about this film, I was sort of getting the feeling that Mel would be using another grand 'epic' sort of film to preach to us about religious beliefs, and thus shyed away from it for awhile. However, I had heard that the film was actually quite good and not really religious at all, so I had to check it out.
I reget nothing, as I found Apocalypto to be simply breathtaking, not because the filmmaking is so complex, but the whole thing feels real. It seems as if Mel has somehow stumbled upon a true civilization of Mayans, and managed to capture their daily lives in front of the camera. From the moment that Jaguar Paw and his young family are attacked by rival villagers, you will be gripped in the thralls of a true adrenaline filled adventure.
You will see violence in this film, and it is very effective stuff because the whole thing feels as if it has been captured live on film. You will bear witness to mayan sacrifices, as priests will cut out still-beating hearts and decapitate victims in the name of their god. The whole thing just us hard to look away from- consider Apocalypto to be a period piece that is accessible to almost anyone due to its incredible filmmaking. The settings are vast, expansive and colorful, the direction is frenetic, and the acting is flawless- you'll have a hard time believing these warriors are not authentic.
lthough Apocalypto is subtitled, it will convey more through emotion than most words ever could, and truth be told, there isn't a lot of dialogue anyway. I wholeheatedly recommend it, I thought it was a filmmaker's dream,
Video / Audio
Video is a 16 x 9 widescreen picture, and is a bit blurry as the whole thing was filmed on an HD camera, but the colors are just gorgeous, representing the natural beauty perfectly.
Audio is a booming Dolby Digital 5.1 track that is pretty much perfectly mixed, listening to this film in all of its glory is probably one of the best parts of the film.
We get a commentary track with Gibson and his co-writer and co-producer Farhad Safinia which is actually pretty entertaining to listen to, surprisingly enough. The two have a joking, jovial tone and talk about the painstaking parts of filming the movie. Good stuff.
You'll also get Becoming Mayan: Creating Apocalypto, which runs nearly a half an hour long, and seems to be your typical fare, if you've seen one Making of, you've seen them all, and this isn't much different, although it's worth a look for sure.
Finally, there's a very short deleted scene with commentary from Gibson and Safinia, which is almost strange in its inclusion, as it doesn't add much either way.
I really dug Apocalypto, and appreciate all the countless hours of hard work that surely were involved in making it. I thought the whole thing was an entertaining (although unddoubtedly slightly historically inaccurate) film that really kept me interested the whole way through. Bring on Passion of the Christ 2!