Good, Bad & Ugly Review: Apocalypto

Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 65% (Critics) / 79% (Audience)
Director: Mel Gibson
Writer: Mel Gibson and Farhad Safinia
Starring: Gerardo Taracena, Raoul Trujillo and Dalia Hernández

Synopsis: Mel Gibson’s vision of the Mayan kingdom in the period leading up to its decline. The movie focuses on Jaguar Paw, a peaceful hunter whose village is raided and is captured to be used for a sacrifice, as he struggle to escape his captors and avenge his tribe and save his family.

The Good:
The one thing I noticed (or rather didn’t notice) is that I was completely unfazed by the fact that this movie was totally spoken in a dead language. I am not a hater of subtitles, some of my favorite movies are foreign language films with subtitles, but I am not very fond of subtitles in movies with a lot of action like this movie has. Shockingly, I was not bothered by that either. Mainly because this movie really didn’t call for much in the way of long-winded exposition on the part of any of the characters in it.
Apocalypto is pretty brutal too and Gibson films it all so beautifully that somehow the barrage of skull bashings, face chewings, stabbings and even mass graves never looks as horrific as they most assuredly are. Visually this is a very beautiful film and that beauty seems to be present throughout the entirety of its 2 hours and 20 minutes.
The other good thing about this film is that the length of it is almost totally irrelevant because of the pacing. Aside form the beginning of the movie that sets up Jaguar Paw’s life and relationships in his village, the movie proceeds at a breakneck speed with almost no time for the audience (or poor Jaguar Paw) to take a breath.

The Bad:
The plot is about as deep as a newborn’s navel and Jaguar Paw being saved by that oh so serendipitous eclipse was a bit of a hackneyed plot device on Gibson’s part.

The Ugly:
Having one’s face eaten by a large jungle cat is no picnic.

Final Verdict: Mel Gibson may be an anti-Semitic, misogynistic booze hound but he sure knows how to make memorable films and this bloody little number is no exception. Gibson basically camouflaged an old fashioned action flick under layers of art-house, award show friendly tricks. It may look like something highbrow but make no mistake, Apocalypto is The Naked Prey set in the Mayan jungles. And that is definitely not a bad thing. B+

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