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Apocalypto (2006)

Takes out the fear residing deep inside our hearts.

Starring:

Amilcar Ramírez

Carlos Emilio Báez

Dalia Hernández

Espiridion Acosta Cache

Iazua Larios

Israel Contreras

Israel Ríos

Itandehui Gutierrez

Jonathan Brewer

Lorena Heranandez

María Isabel Díaz

Mayra Serbulo

Morris Birdyellowhead

Rudy Youngblood

Sayuri Gutierrez

Directed by:

Mel GibsonMel Gibson

Rating: 8/10

Running Time: 139 minutes

US Certificate: R UK Certificate: 18

On DVD

Country: United States

Apocalypto is set during the decline of the Mayan civilisation when the big-wigs feel they need to build more temples and make sacrifices to stave off their god’s wrath. They start rounding up villagers to sacrifice and they capture Jaguar Paw (Youngblood), but this young man will stop at nothing to save his pregnant wife (Hernández) and family.

Credit where it’s due – Mel Gibson (love him or hate him) took a lot of risks in the making of Apocalypto. Extinct languages with subtitles and the use of relatively unknown actors are usually enough to put off many cinema-goers before they’ve even finished watching the trailer. However, Apocalypto ended up as a big success story probably due to the exposure it gained from having Mad Mel at the helm.

Maybe that is a bit unfair as this is a good movie. There’s plenty of gory but well-executed action and, despite difficult circumstances, the characterisation and acting has given us characters to root for and to despise. The attention to detail is marvellous and the dialogue is in the best part sounds genuine (except for one line that sticks out like a sore thumb).  Gibson must be credited here for his skills as a director as well as the cast who give the film a real authenticity and provide beautiful cinematography. Although, similar to The Passion of the Christ, your opinion regarding the authenticity will usually be affected by your levels of cynicism – is Mel just being pretentious and overdoing it all? I don’t think so – take his name away and no-one would care.

As is the norm for these kinds of epics, Apocalypto is slightly too long and there are some scenes that could have been cut – how many times can you watch someone run through a forest, for example. For me, I normally find that the answer is around seven.

It's Got: Gory but decent action, not much to say, great cinematography

It Needs: To be a little shorter with some scenes cut, one massively annochronistic line cut (you know which one I mean), a lack of cynicism

DVD Extras We have a solitary Deleted Scene, a softly spoken commentary track and a ‘Becoming Mayan: Creating Apocalypto’ that overlaps quite a bit - not bad and I don't think much more historical stuff was needed DVD Extras Rating: 6/10

Summary

Depending on your viewpoint, it’s either pretentiousy over-the-top or a great story mixed with impressively authentic detail. (The answer is ‘b’.)

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