Isaacs Picture Conclusions

APOCALYPTO (2006) FOUR TOP HATS

I think there’s a lot of people that don’t like this movie – I don’t know if that’s because:

  • Everyone was mad at Mel Gibson when this came out
  • Everyone is still mad at Mel Gibson
  • Gibson has gone apeshit
  • People have to read the dialogue
  • This was amazingly tense and brutal
  • People were appalled by the barbaric depictions of a civilization that came before ours
  • Brad Pitt or Tim Burton’s contracted lifetime movie partnerJohnny Depp or George Cloons or Jonah Hill weren’t in it
  • It wasn’t more of “The Passion”…

Well, those last two bullets probably aren’t fair but I don’t get it – this movie is pretty damn good; it’s tense throughout, it’s as bloody and gory as you can get, the no name cast (actors? I doubt it)  was unbelievable going through what they went through as performers, the special effects and props were incredible, the locations, settings and camera shots were killer and, I don’t know, I thought the entire thing was very well executed and put together. Trying to think about writing this, it will be difficult for me to try and single out who’s who since the names are tribal and ancient but the guys who played Jaguar Paw (Rudy Youngblood) and Zero Wolf (Raoul Trujillo) I thought did amazing in what they were asked to do (and yes I had to look up their character names). So, writing about how I had to look that up, Apocalypto has a 7.8 rating from 121-thousand-something voters, so maybe it’s not as disliked as I remember, but I just recall a bunch of negativity surrounding it – but that’s probably because of Gibson’s prison-shithouse-insanity right around the time this came out. I liked it – good movie, a little too long maybe, but muy bueno.

The story is told from the point of view of Jaguar Paw; his jungle tribe lives peacefully, sustaining themselves, propagating the species and telling stories by the campfire. One night a group of strangers invade their village, brutally rape and kill almost everyone and take prisoners. These prisoners are intended as sacrifice to the Mayan god Kukulkan to, I believe, rid the region of the plague, pestilence and drought besetting it.  The trip from the jungle to the “city” is tough to watch with cliffs and rivers and plague ridden oracles and lime quarries and deformed people but eventually they end up on the top of a pyramid with thousands of people below waiting for them to get beheaded. A couple of the natives get the chop and, as Jaguar Paw (J. P.)is preparing for his end, an eclipse occurs and the Mayan priest declares Kukulkan satisfied with enough blood. The prisoners are sent to be dispatched as “fun target practice” but J. P. eludes the spears, kills Zero Wolf’s son and the chase is on.

This harrowing chase lasts a good hour (or so) and I thought it was very well done – very well shot, slo-mo-ed and grueling. The hero of this movie is J. P. so, as expected, Zero Wolf’s men go down one by one in various manners until we get to the end – which I liked, but I think too many people might have read too much into. Years ago, when I was in college, I might have sat here and typed and typed and typed about the mythology or philosophy or historical accuracies or inaccuracies of this, or even the fate of Mel Gibson who, despite his problems, will always be The Road Warrior Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome to me. This is probably the fifth or sixth time I’ve seen Apocalypto and it still holds tension, is still “OMG-what??” gory and still does the trick. I liked it.

END

P.S. : That scene where J.P. eludes the spears and arrows, runs off through the cornfield and falls into the ravine filled with HUNDREDS of decapitated, bloody, fly-infested corpses has to be one of the grossest three minutes of films I’ve seen. Congrats to the prop department.

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