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  Publicity Stills of "Apocalypto"
(Courtesy from 20th Century Fox)

Genre: Drama
Director: Mel Gibson
Starring: Rudy Youngblood, Dalia Hernandez, Jonathan Brewer, Morris Bird, Carlos Emilio Baez, Amilcar Ramirez, Israel Contreras Vasquez
RunTime: 2 hrs 19 mins
Released By: 20th Century Fox
Rating: M18
Opening Day: 18 January 2007

Soundtrack: Access "Apocalypto" Soundtrack Review

Synopsis :

From Academy Award® winning filmmaker Mel Gibson ("The Passion of The Christ," "Braveheart"), comes "Apocalypto": a heart stopping mythic action-adventure set against the turbulent end times of the once great Mayan civilization. When his idyllic existence is brutally disrupted by a violent invading force, a man is taken on a perilous journey to a world ruled by fear and oppression where a harrowing end awaits him. Through a twist of fate and spurred by the power of his love for his woman and his family he will make a desperate break to return home and to ultimately save his way of life.

Movie Review:

We are definitely not the best people to impress you with academic historical facts about the Mayan civilization. So, we initially thought this film would be a great opportunity to enrich our humble knowledge bank with the community’s rich culture.

But hell no, this fourth full-length feature directed by Mel “Mad Max” Gibson only convinced us that the actor-producer-director is has reached his lunatic best.

If you remember, Gibson was the man who bravely brought to screen the crucifixion of Jesus Christ in 2004’s The Passion of the Christ. And that landmark film was also the first M18 movie to grace our little island for graphic violence.

With his latest work, Gibson has proved that he is a man who daringly approaches violence with no bars held. And what a bloody picture it is.

The simple plot tells the story of how a village in a Mayan civilization is taken captive, and how one protagonist goes against all odds to escape his fatal destiny and reunite with the family he holds dearest to his heart.

The movie opens with a scene where a tapir is slaughtered in the woods for food. That is just the mildest of things to come. We’d hope that provides some mental preparation for viewers with a weaker stomach. Decapitation, broken limbs and lots of spurting blood are probably not everyone’s cup of tea.

Violence aside, the movie is an also a grand excuse for Gibson to film in the exotic jungles of Mexico, and to showcase the lushness of the greenery there. There are also fierce rivers, dangerous cliffs and steep waterfalls for landscape lovers to ogle at.

Even the town where the enemies reside is a reason for the filmmakers to dress the cast up in tribal costumes, complete with bright and strange makeup to entice the bored audience in us. The grandeur of the set design is definitely a showcase of creativity and effort.

As you can tell by now, what started off as a potentially serious and important chronicle of a civilization’s downfall gradually becomes a visual spectacle littered with extreme violence and bloodshed. The 139-minute movie eventually becomes a typical Hollywood thrill ride where the more engaged viewers can squint and scream at every nerve-wrecking scene.

To viewers who do not buy Gibson’s tactic of using sadism and brutality to shock audiences will not be impressed by how the movie unfolds. It simply churns out scene after scene of cruel and hostile aggression, which conveniently kills off the villains one by one.

No matter which camp you belong to, you have to take your hats off to Gibson’s bold vision in bringing this movie to screen. It ultimately makes a good popcorn adventure which will keep you at the edge of your seats.

This is aided by top notch production values which range from an entire cast of unknowns (whose convincing performances make us wonder how these people will look if we dressed them in modern clothes), a breathtaking cinematography by Dean Semler (Waterworld, We Were Soldiers), and a very disturbingly unsettling music underscore composed by James Horner (Troy, The New World).

These enticing aspects are enough to make those with braver and stronger hearts sit through the entire movie, even if the last half an hour is a blatant “we-won’t stop-until-everyone-dies” segment.

You’d probably realize by now you won’t be leaving the cinema knowing more about the Mayan civilization. Yes, you’d still need to go to history books for that.

Movie Rating:

(Though flawed in some ways, this brilliantly-filmed adrenalin-pumping movie is still a daring effort by Mel Gibson)

Review by John Li

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