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, 2006
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APOCALYPTO, 2006, MOVIE POSTERAPOCALYPTO, 2006
Movie Reviews

Directed by: Mel Gibson

Starring: Rudy Youngblood, Dalia Hern∑ndez, Jonathan Brewer, Carlos Emilio B∑ez
Review by Fredric Hammarlund


SYNOPSIS:

In the Mayan civilization some tribes rule with fear and believe in human sacrifices as others live in peace and doesnít hunt anything other than animals. As the two sides clash the peaceful become enslaved and only Jaguar Paw can fight his oppressors.

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REVIEW:

ďI am Jaguar Paw. This is my forest. And I am not afraid.Ē Jaguar Paw, the son of one of the tribe leaders of a peaceful Mayan tribe, is about to become a father. He already has a son so fatherhood doesnít scare him. But there are other scares out there in the jungle. The fear starts to spread as the hunters come across the survivors of another village that has been burned and enslaved by a warrior tribe. His father Flint Sky tries to steer Jaguar Paw away from fear, but the journey to fearlessness is neither short nor comfortable.

Mel Gibson introduces the Mayan tribesman almost like frat boys. The jargon is insulting and the biggest tribesman consistently gets insulted for his lack of children. One of the funnier parts in the film is when the elder Flint Sky convinces the childless giant that rubbing a special kind of leaves on his genitals before sex would solve his problem. This of course ends up in public ridicule as he runs out of his hut bare-naked in search for water. The leaves turn out to be something similar to hot peppers and the entire tribe join in on the laughter.

The crew behind this movie actually looked into shooting in South America, but it turns out that the jungles over there are way too thick and not flat enough to slide camera equipment during a chase sequence. And since this movie is all about chase sequences they had to find a new location. Gibson then turned to Mexico where he found a perfect jungle. Here they build the sets on location. The village of the friendly tribe may not seem that impressive to build from scratch, but the warmongering village sure is. Not only is it more than ten times bigger, but also the sacrifice altar in the form of a major pyramid alone is an amazing construction.

While trying to go for authenticity they actually cast people of Mayan background that never acted before. One of the most memorable is the little girl who is dying of the plague and the curse she spits out on the warrior tribesmen. The curse is actually fulfilled by Jaguar Paw as he sidesteps and disposes of the many dangers and warriors that oppose him.

The movie is rated R for violence and brief disturbing imagery. This is mainly due to the violence of the war tribe in their sacrifice and man hunt games, but a toughen moviegoer like myself didnít find it to be that harsh. Somehow a man removing a heart from another manís chest doesnít raise as many eyebrows as it used to. After all they did that already during Indiana Jonesí time.

This is Gibsonís fourth directorial feature and even though none of its 3 academy award nominations resulted in a win it truly is an astounding film. And Gibson can lean back on his two statuettes from one of his previous feature Braveheart (1995). His two other movies are The Man without a Face (1993) and The Passion of the Christ (2004). Apocalypto might not be a Braveheart, but it also not as painful to watch as The Passion of the Christ. I think it is a solid 4 out of 5 and as a chase movie it ranks even higher.


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