Apocalypto (2006)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBB

USA, 2006.  Icon Entertainment International, Icon Productions, Touchstone Pictures.  Screenplay by Mel Gibson, .  Cinematography by .  Produced by , Mel Gibson, .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  

Continuing his lifelong dream to make movies with people speaking dead languages, Mel Gibson ventures into the South American jungles to tell the tale of an ancient native civilization on the eve of western conquest. A peaceful Mayan village is raided and decimated by its kingdom’s warriors, the strongest men bound up and taken to be killed by priests looking to extend the glory of their powerful empire through sacrifices to their gods. One young man named Jaguar Paw manages at first through fate and eventually through skill to survive the harshest treatment by his captors, his heart beating merely to get himself back home and rescue his pregnant wife and toddler son from the deep chasm in which he hid them when the invaders arrived on the scene.

Exciting and extensively detailed (though deeper investigation into historical accuracy will reveal a few bummers), the film offers no compromise in aesthetic pleasures but is rather short on character depth; you’ll be entertained but your heart won’t be moved except for the odd jolt from seeing such gory treatment of human bodies. Gibson, who co-wrote, co-produced and directed, continues to show himself an expert filmmaker with a dedication to giving audiences a trip outside their everyday experience, plus makes Mayans a hell of a lot more interesting than he made the old JC, but nothing here matches up to the effect of Braveheart’s wit or passion in battle.

Academy Award Nominations:  Best Makeup; Best Sound Mixing; Best Sound Editing

Golden Globe Award Nomination:  Best Foreign Language Film

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