One of the most important things to remember while watching a movie is to ignore any type of past that the celebrities involved with the project had. For example, I recently talked about "Off the Black," where Nick Nolte gives an award worthy performance. It's possible that a lot of people would be put off by seeing Nolte in a film, after his involvement with alcohol etc. But by not seeing this work, there is an audience out there that is missing a great acting job. I don't personally like Sean Penn as a person, but if I refused to see any Sean Penn movie simply because I don't like him for himself, then I would be missing out on numerous great films. Now there is Mel Gibson, who has been in the news a lot lately, for his Anti-Semitic tirads while strongly under the influence. But when all is said and done, Mel Gibson may be a racist or he may not be-it doesn't matter. When it comes to "Apocalypto" the only thing that matters is the work, and Mel Gibson has crafted yet another great period film like nothing anybody has ever seen.
Mel Gibson chooses to tell his next story during the days of the Mayans, and not only that but he decides to revive the Mayan language. He tells the story of Jaguar Paw, a Mayan villager in the 16th century. Jaguar Paw lives in his village and pretty much leads a peaceful life. His wife Seven is having a second child after Turtles Run, and he often enjoys going out hunting with his father Flint Sky, or playing practical jokes on Blunted-one example is telling him to rub a special leaf on his special area to help have children. The leaf burns instead, and doesn't even come close to helping to conceive. The peace in the village is destroyed when Warriors led by Zero Wolf come to the village, killing whoever is in their path and then making everyone their slaves. Jaguar Paw finds a way to protect his pregnant wife and young son by lowering them into a hole, and then promising to come back for them later on. Before he can help them he is captured, and then is forced to watch his father be killed. Jaguar Paw is brought to another village, where it is planned that he will either be sold into slavery or sacrificed by the high priests-beheadings, that sort of thing. Somehow he escapes, and is chased through the Mayan forest, to somehow safe his wife and son and bring back some sort of order in his life.
"Apocalypto" is split into three parts. The beginning starts out rather slowly, showing us the Mayan village and their way of life. It even has some elements of humor, and brings present day human characteristics to these people. They were probably very similar to us in behavior(one Mayan even uses the phrase "F*ck off," which I can't decide if it is historically accurate or not. Was that word around during the times of the Mayans? Not even that documentary "F*ck" answered that question.) The middle half is during the raid of the village, and the ultimate sacrifice scenes. And then there is the third, and longest part, involving the chase between the raiders and Jaguar Paw. This is very extended, probably about forty-five minutes long, but one of the most intense and exciting segments in any movie of late. You're at the edge of your seat as Jaguar Paw is pursued through the jungles, and even rooting that his wife somehow finds a way out of the hole she's in, literally and figuratively. I have to admit that Mel Gibson does make really good films. I'm one of the few that though "The Passion of The Christ" was a great film and a mammoth achievement. "Apocalypto" was as beautiful visually as "The Passion," and Mel Gibson works his hardest to put great detail in the historical portions. Not only in "Apocalypto" a great history story, but also a stunning action film.
There is a couple of things that I am a little apprehensive about. I already mentioned the usage of the "F" word, and my research has not indicated that being around at the time at all. The second is a birth scene, which was meaningful in a way, but the way it is presented was a little unnecessary. I don't want to spoil anything, but you'll see what I mean. It's not a reason to skip this film, but it is a little strange. But any type of inaccuracies aside, "Apocalypto" is a grand time at the theatre. Be warned before watching it though, because this is extremely graphic. Like Gibson of the past, he does not shy away from any type of disturbing images-jaguar's ripping peoples faces off, various killings, beheadings, animal abuse-but that was probably what life was like at the time. These people had to fend for themselves-of course Gibson is going to include animals dying after falling into traps. It's only natural. Those who hate Mel Gibson the person should step aside, and go watch this incredible film. You will not regret it at all.