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.