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Today's word on journalism

Monday, January 29, 2007

Words as weapons:

"When he had a pen in his hand it was like giving a kid a machine gun."

--Peter Hall, theater director, on "Angry Young Man" playwright John Osborne (1929-1994)

An A- For 'Apocalypto'

By Ryan Pence

December 13, 2006 | Mel Gibson's "Apocalypto" is undeniably a wonderful film, and arguably one of the best pictures of the year. The simple story, the beautiful cinematography and the passable acting encompass this film. The directing is top notch, and the musical score seamlessly woven into the background.

Story. Set at the end of the Mayan civilization when a drought is prevalent in the land. A group of mercenaries ransack small villages and take prisoners, who will be sacrificed atop pyramids. The movie revolves around the story of one of these captives, Jaguar Paw. The prisoners are taken to an unnamed "City of Stone" where they are taken to the top of one of the pyramids. After two of the captives are sacrificed, it's Jaguar Paws turn, but just as he's about to be sacrificed, there is an eclipse. A wise man/witchdoctor confirms that the Sun requires no more sacrifices.

The remaining captives are then taken to a field to be executed in a sort of game fashion. The captives are told to run towards the corn at the far end of the field, and that their village/forest is on the other side. The catch is there are guards with bows and spears to ensure that the captive don's make it. Needless to say, Jaguar Paw makes it to the corn but not before he gets skewered by a spear and kills the leader of the guards' son. Now comes the chase scene that lasts the remainder of the movie.

Cinematography. The scenery was breath taking and the jungles were filmed exquisitely. The cinematographer managed to capture the feeling of the piece without going too far and pushing the envelope. Needless to say though, there were a few moments when the picture appeared to dull and dark, but those instances were very few.

It was a very interesting choice to film the movie with digital cameras. Usually movies of this nature require the 70mm film to capture the richness and beauty of the visuals, especial this movie being as artistic as it was. Because of this choice, some of the visuals just didn's look as great as they could have been.

Direction. After Mel Gibson's "Passions of the Christ," he set to work on this movie. And this movie just doesn't appear to be as passionate a project. The material was great, and there's some good stuff and some solid directing, but the story is lacking the depth it deserved. But still, Mel Gibson did a terrific job on this movie and as talented as he is, I hope we see more movies directed by him in the future.

Bottom Line. The movie, apart from a few flaws that can be overlooked -- the use of digital cameras, some small bits of bad acting and dialogue -- is truly a remarkable movie. What drags the movie down is the fact that it is a 2 hour and 15 minute movie about a guy running through the forest. The story is lacking the depth that it deserves, it is the Mayan civilization and the movie didn't but brush the surface about the culture, people, religions and rituals.

Rating. Rated R for strong language, nudity and strong violence.

Ryan's Picks. What that you say? You want more Mel Gibson directed films with lots of blood? Then check these flicks out.

Passions of the Christ. If there was ever a time in anyone's life where they felt they needed to watch a man be crucified, then pick this movie up. This movie is hard to get through but is well worth it. The movie is absolutely beautiful and stunning. Every frame of this film carefully planned and executed with precise precision to create a powerful and moving film. Warning -- this film is two hours of brutality and blood, most definitely not for the faint of heart.

Braveheart. Mel Gibson won Oscars for this movie that takes place in Scotland. Lots of blood abound in this revenge story. The movie runs a little long, but that is made up in the battle sequences and the incredibly engaging story.



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