Saturday, December 09, 2006

APOCALYPTO

A lot of critics are torn here, and I gotta join ‘em. It feels like director Mel Gibson was trying to tell a really important story about the fall of a great civilization, but it doesn’t work on that level. The level it works on is being completely and totally awesome, and if you go in wanting that…man will you get it. It starts of a little slow but once it hits its stride, there aren’t a lot of wasted moments.

The basic plot is this peaceful Mayan village is ravaged, and everyone in it is either kidnapped or killed. Except this guy Jaguar Paw hides his wife and child in a pit before being taken away himself. So then it becomes an effort for him to get back and save them. Along the way…well, there’s an amazing part in the Mayan city. If you at all dig huge, elaborate sets that recreate a lost piece of history…this is all over that. GREAT costuming and make-up here, as is true throughout.

But anyway, the movie REALLY picks up once Jaguar Paw escapes. From there, it’s a relentless chase through the jungle where pretty much everything you’d want to see happen to people in a jungle happens (a jaguar chews a guy’s face off…for example). There’s almost no dialogue in this section, which is pretty sweet.

Speaking of dialogue, it is all in Mayan, but I think it works (note…I thought the Latin in The Passion worked in favor of that movie as well, so do with that what you will). A lot of the dialogue would come of pretty frickin’ cheesy in English, and actually I think it would’ve worked just fine without subtitles, as there’s almost no vital information communicated in the dialogue. And like I said, it’s not a very talky movie; most of it’s people running and beating the crap out of each other.

My biggest problem with the movie is a screenplay issue, because they (Mel Gibson and Farhad Safinia) really make Jaguar Paw the luckiest man alive. While he does take care of his own share of business, there are two major times when he is clearly screwed when he is saved in the most ridiculous ways, and many more when he’s saved by slightly more believable means that are still lucky as hell.

But that’s kind of a small quibble, ‘cause the movie as a whole definitely works. At least, if you’re looking for balls-to-the-wall, savage violence (oh, yeah, forgot to mention…the movie’s gory as hell…not one, but TWO people get their hearts ripped out).

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