Saturday, July 14, 2007

Apocalypto Now

Watched Mel Gibson's Apocalypto last night. The first twenty minutes kick ass, then the next half an hour or so is slow slow slow, then the film revs back up for the end. The movie follows the adventures of the jungle tribesman, Jaguar Paw, as he is captured by cruel Mayans and taken back to their city to have his living heart sacrificed to their god. Jaguar Paw escapes and a suspenseful chase ensues through the jungles. Like Mel's Jesus movie, this one has subtitles over an obscure language. Years of watching Japanese Samurai films have given me an immunity to sub titles so that slid right by, though I know some folks hate subtitles.
The middle part, the slow part, is mostly Mel trying to show just how cruel the Mayans are. Image after image of the Mayans being cruel. Okay, Mel. I get it. They're cruel. Move on. Reminds me of some stuff in Braveheart and Passion of the Christ. Cruelty must be a theme of Mel's or something.
The third part is very intense. Jaguar Paw is portrayed as a capable man, though not really an action hero. He barely survives the menaces he runs into and he's obviously afraid of his pursuers.
The production values are absolutely amazing. The Mayan city is fully realized. The costumes are wonderfully authentic. The scenery is great. This is a beautiful film.
It's also EXTREMELY violent and bloody so if that sort of thing bothers you, be warned. Not one to watch with the kiddies.
Of course the whole time I was watching it, I was thinking, 'This is what a Conan film should look like.' Not some overblown fantasy film that looks like it was shot on left over Star Wars sets, but something that looks historical and gritty. In fact, an adaptation of Red Nails could be filmed in a style very close to this, since the culture in that one is very much modeled on Mayan/Aztec culture. I'd even be okay with Mel directing. After all, Olmec, Tascela, and the other inhabitants of Xuchotl are really cruel. Mel would love it.

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