Hey, everyone. ”Moriarty” here. This first review is short but sweet:
I was lucky enough to catch an advance screening of Mel Gibson's Apocalypto at my university's film center. If you use this you can call me Kajak. I had my suspicions before, but Apocalypto confirms it: Mel Gibson is utterly insane. His latest film is one of the most brutal, intense movies I have seen in a long while and I absolutely loved it. The beginning made me skeptical, but by the time the credits rolled, I was utterly floored. I'm not saying that this is the best movie of the year or anything, but it's probably in the Top 10. The story follows a young Mayan man, Jaguar Paw, through tragedy and a journey across the treacherous jungle. I will refrain from giving away too much, because the film often relies and surprise (as evidenced by the constant gasps in the audience). Though some may question the use of Mayan dialogue (and English subtitles), I think that it is essential to the culture and style of the film's world and anything else would just seem weird. The reason you'll like this film isn't the dialogue, anyway, it's the action. The entire second half of the film is one gigantic set piece... and the tension never lets up. Perhaps it was because I wasn't expecting the film to be anywhere near this violent, but I was shocked. There are gruesome, lingering shots of people having their faces torn off, their hearts ripped out, and worse. The violence in The Passion wasn't a fluke. As far as the other aspects of the films go, the acting from a cast of unknowns was excellent and very believable, the camerawork was good, and the music didn't stand out in a good or bad way. Though Mel Gibson may be an anti-Semitic, alcoholic, gore-obsessed maniac, he is obviously an extremely talented director and I highly recommend his Apocalypto.
This next guy’s got a bit more to say:
Hello there Harry!! I've just come from one of the first screenings of Mel Gibson's "Apocalytpo" at NYU's Cantor Film Center. So this is what I thought... It could have been a brilliant film and had moments of brilliance, but it was heavily, heavily flawed. Mel Gibson doesn't exactly have the best street cred with the Jewish faith and its people, but he has the potential to make some great films if he stops letting himself be so heavily influenced by tired religious overtones and Hollywood cliches. It's alright to have religious undertones, but the main character was paralleled too much to Jesus with prophecies and a rebirth of sorts (although there is a beautiful shot of Jaguar Paw climbing out of the quicksand to be reborn, and resembling a jaguar himself. I lost track of how many times he was reborn/given another chance to live. It was at least 3 with his almost murder on top of a temple, jumping from a waterfall, and coming out of quicksand. A little girl suddenly appears possessed by a spirit of sorts and says (in a horrible dubbing with an older actress's voice) to beware of the day as dark as night and the man who brings the jaguar. And, sure enough, Jaguar Paw (our protagonist) is saved from death by a solar eclipse and then is discovered by the men chasing him when he is chased by a jaguar. The references to this omen by the main antagonists is laughable and needs to be cut. There's a difference in humor between comedic relief and melodrama, and Gibson sways his directorial pendulum too often towards the latter. It had too many heavyhanded and tired tricks (i.e. blood falling from a leaf onto someone...I think we've all seen "Mission Impossible" with Tom Cruise and his scientological sweat). I know he was trying to show how brute, savage, and primal the Mayan people were despite their incredible ingenuity and intelligence, but some of the violence came off as laughable and would have been better off left to the imagination. Another sequence with Jaguar Paw's wife and son trying to stay afloat in the water filled pit they've been stuck in was overkill where the duress of her situation induces her labor and she gives birth to the baby underwater. It was completely unecessary to show the baby coming out from under her tunic under the water. The makeup, costumes, sets, and overall production design was incredible, and it ended the only way it could have, with the Spanish conquistadors landing ashore just as Jaguar Paw and the two remaining antagonists reach the ocean to show how ultimately futile his struggle to escape the expansion of modern civilization and the impending destruction of his way of life. He, his wife, and his children retreat into the forest happy and well to enjoy the few moments of peace they have left before the Spanish most likely either kill them or take them captive. I enjoyed the movie greatly, but I was so frustrated throughout cause it could have been brilliant and had such potential. I'm sure some people in my French New Wave class Wednesday will be wondering who wrote this and I look forward to discussing it with my classmates in further detail. I'm the one near the door. If you use this, just call me AdamLogan.