Apocalypto

Bee throwing action!

Is it wrong to dislike Mel Gibson’s movies based on his anti-Semitic exploits? Unless that movie condemns Jewish people straight up, probably. It is not right to dislike a movie because of the personal lives of its staff, but it is okay to dislike a movie because of its overuse of slow motion, under use of dialogue for minutes at a time in which nothing but scenery happens, and general spottiness.
Apocalypto is not a bad movie: it is frequently visually and narratively arresting, but never consistently so.

Jaguar Paw lives an idyllic life in his village, until it is invaded by Big City Warriors. Enslaved by these sadistic tribesmen, Jaguar Paw is subjected to a gauntlet of horrors on the road to escape.

Apocalypto boasts a simple story, and it is at its best when it is at its most simple. The village scenes are more what the movie should have been ike, because it is in these moments that the characters seem human and genuine. One could argue that enslaving people for the sake of your own religion is something that robs everyone involved of his or her humanity, but that does not make it cool; it just means that these characters have been stripped of everything but their desire to escape.

The movie becomes a parade of base desires and violence and dubious translations (“he’s fucked”). The last piece of genuine care comes, ironically, just as the movie’s least interesting segment comes to an end. Thereafter, when all of the men are painted blue, it’s difficult to show much interest. After all, these people are likely to be decapitated or arrowed through the head at any second, so why bother investing yourself in them?

Jaguar Paw still does a good job of keeping the action going and of forcing his audience to suspend their disbelief as he runs for miles with several holes in and through his body. The periodic scenes featuring his wife and child having bad times in a hole are supposed to represent a goal for him, but the amount of running that he does tends to imply that he doesn’t have much of a goal.

Then, when he hits the ultimate “we’re screwed” moment, the movie ends. Let’s roll credits and go home, because the prophecy at the beginning of the movie fulfilled itself! The modern day counterparts that Apocalypto’s story clearly hopes to illuminate the existence of seem somewhat ironic in the light of the whole Mel Gibson thing, but let’s not forget that this is the man who played John Smith to the world’s happiest Pocahontas.

If this is civilisation, I want no part of it; Excuse me while I feast on the heart of a freshly slaughtered tapir. Apocalypto was an indeterminate fraction of a good movie. It’s not a lost cause, but it’s not something that I would bother seeing again. What’s next on the cards for Gibson? I suggest that he team up with Tom Cruise and make a movie entirely in Raelian. Subtitles sell, man.

3 Comments

  1. Wavatar Mark January 29, 2007
  2. Wavatar Alex January 31, 2007
  3. Wavatar David August 3, 2010

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