Saturday, December 09, 2006

Apocalypto Review.

If you've ever listened to The Movie Show, then you know that I care NOTHING about celebrity gossip. It has nothing to do with the making of movies, and also, celebrity gossip journalists seem to have this knack for using their craft to make movies worse or better than they actually are.

is a perfect example. While I only saw the first 30 minutes or so of the film, it definitely wasn't the worst movie ever made as many entertainment journalists were so quick to point out. The same is doubly true of Mel Gibson's Apocalypto. Some journalists want you to think the movie's terrible because of the director's comments to the L.A. police while others want you to think it's great because of a so-called incendiary attack against modern politics, environmental policies, etc. Well, I am here to say that despite what either camp tries to claim, the movie works on its own merits as a well-made action thriller.

I was actually reminded of the classic John McTiernan film Predator. That's right, the one with Arnold Schwarzenegger fighting the the dreadlocked alien hunter from space. At its heart (no pun intended) Apocalypto, like Predator is a gruesome hunter/prey film where the dynamic of the hunter and the hunted is constantly being exchanged. Rudy Youngblood plays Jaguar Paw - son of a tribal king who lives in the forests of South America. When Jaguar and his fellow tribesmen are all enslaved by a more 'civilized' tribe, our hero must escape capture from one of the most terrible nightmares ever captured on film.

It's a simple plot, but Mel Gibson has this way of slowly setting something up and making it pay off. In a way, the former actor has attained a certain mastery of the language of film. After making two films in dead or dying languages, I guess he had to, but the point I want to make is that even if the film was muted and without subtitles, Apocalypto would still work as an action film. The same could not be said of many recent films such as Man on Fire which barely made sense in English.

As I left Apocalypto, some of the more heady ideas of the film began to catch up with me. There is one scene in particular where an over-zealous clergyman tries to excuse the murder and ecological damage caused by their city in the name of God. But again, I wasn't really thinking about this when I watched the movie because I was too busy being entertained.


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