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Passion of the Mel: Apocalypto soars!

Updated

And now for a review of Mel's latest bloodbath, APOCALYPTO!.

Whether or not you still hate Mel Gibson for his drunken Anti-Semitic tirade (what is it with celebrities that can't keep their mouths shut?), Apocalypto is a rousing experience. Mel knows how to make movies (remember Braveheart?), and even though this one's shot entirely in the Yukatec Maya language, the heart of Apocalypto is absolutely universal. Really it's all about survival and rising from fear to protect one's self and his loved ones, themes anyone can understand.

Apocalypto is a spectacular ride. It's marred by a few realism-killing cases of dues-ex-machina, but right to the clever finish, I was literally be on the edge of my seat.

Using his pocket change from the Passion of the Christ (Mel's love letter to Christians everywhere), Gibson was able to make this baby exactly how he wanted to, without following studio guidelines. It's an adventure set in the deep jungles of Mesoamerica before the fall of the Mayan Civilization, so Mel shot on location in Mexico's gorgeous Veracruz, with a cast of unknowns. It tells the riveting story of Jaguar Paw (newcomer Rudy Youngblood), the son of a tapir hunter, who has disturbing dreams foretelling disaster before his small village is beset by an invading Mayan tribe.

If you've seen Braveheart or the Passion, you know Mel doesn't shy away from graphic depictions of gore, so the squeamish best be prepared. Needless to say, the assault is a bloody massacre, as the heavily tattooed tribe slaughters any that resist. The rest, including Jaguar Paw, who successfully hid his wife Seven (Hernandez) and son before being captured himself, are violently bound for a journey to the tribesmen's city.

The story intercuts between Jaguar and Seven, who is stranded at the bottom of a cavern pit, allowing Mel to fuel both the heroic suspense and our empathy for these characters. What you'll witness in the Mayan capital is graphic, brutal and terrifying. Mel has created a bustling Sodam and Gomorrah, towering with pyramids surrounded by thousands of bloodthirsty peons who erupt in raging bliss as their leaders make public sacrifices to the gods. The attention paid to detail is breathtaking, though a tad unsettling to think about who had to create the pit of rotting decapitated corpses.

Apocalypto is a spectacular ride. It's marred by a few realism-killing cases of dues-ex-machina, but right to the clever finish, I was literally be on the edge of my seat.

Rating: A-

Apocalypto
Starring Rudy Youngblood, Dalia Hernandez and Raoul Trujillo; directed by Mel Gibson


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