Apocalypto

January 30th, 2008 by exolstice

Apocalypto

Mel Gibson may sound like a bit of a nutter these days, but he apparently still knows how to create an entertaining flick. While his Passion of the Christ subject matter was surely not to everyone’s tastes, it was a well-made film. Apocalypto is his latest effort, and despite a few flaws, it is quite a ride.

The film opens ‘innocently’ enough with a band of Mayan hunters tracking a tapir in the jungle, but it doesn’t take long for the gore to make it’s first appearance as soon as the animal is caught and killed. Squeamish viewers, consider yourselves warned. You’ll be treated to a man devouring bloody tapir testicles in the first five minutes. Of course, the disgusting spectacle is merely a practical joke being played on one of the hunters by the rest of the band, as they lead him to believe ingesting the organs will increase his virility.

That’s just one of many examples of how off putting the film can be at times. Brutal violence is often juxtaposed with moments of humanity. After the hunters return from the jungle, some time is spent with each of the characters in the village, leading up to an evening celebration. The next morning the peaceful village is savagely attacked by a group of Mayan warriors and burned to the ground. The adults are either enslaved or killed, while the children are abandoned.

This film is violent, and yet it almost never seems gratuitous. Thankfully, Mel Gibson spares us the lingering shots of bloody wounds that were so prevalent in his previous film. There is blood to be sure, but a lot less than what you’d expect from the amount of carnage depicted on screen. Still, Apocalypto would be downright unpleasant to sit through if all it depicted were violent acts.

Thankfully, that’s not the case. The story is pretty engaging as we follow the story of Jaguar’s Paw, who is one of the hunters introduced in the beginning, from his peaceful live in the village, through his brief experience as a slave to be sacrificed to the gods, and eventually his escape.

The film feels like a cross between a historical epic and an 80’s action flick, without the negative aspects of either genre. So if that sounds like you’re cup of tea, then definitely give Apocalypto a watch.

****

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