Thursday, December 14, 2006

Apocalypto is in some ways, a typical Hollywood action film. Most of the dialogue is junk and most of the characters are two-dimensional. But place us among the world of the Mayans and have all the lines subtitled, and now you have some heft to your film, supposedly.

In this one case only, I will speak for the majority of Americans that I don't know a lot about Mayans. History classes tend to teach more about say, the Greeks, or the Romans as opposed to the Mayans. This is certainly a world that a studio hasn't covered with a depth. So I'm sure there will be people who think of this as authentic, perhaps accurate. But interviews with the film's director, everybody's favorite drunken anti-Semite, talked about this as more of a "could be" then fact.

Before I start bashing this film too much, I should state that this is the best looking DV film I've ever seen. The technology has improved to the point to the point that I almost couldn't tell the difference. I couldn't tell the difference in the majority of the film. This is 2 hrs, 19 min long, and it moved so fast I didn't feel it (something The Da Vinci Code can't say.). And the CGI enhances the look, not used in a showy look-at-me style.

The whole second half is one major chase sequence that for the most part works. Director Gibson owes much to cinematographer Dean Semler (The Road Warrior, Dances With Wolves) and editors Kevin Stitt (X Men) and John Wright (X Men, Speed). Any nominations for them, as well as for Sound Effects Editing would be well deserved.

I've told some of you that if you give me interesting visuals and a good score (Apocalypto's was done by James Horner), then I can overlook a lot of a film's problems. For a while, anyway. And I can say I was never bored. I was never unstimulated by the film's sights and sounds. And the acting is similar to say, Heaven's Gate. No one great performance, but the whole cast works.

This is definetly Gibson's bloodiest film. The scene involving the end of a jaguar's attack is as gruesome as Jesus getting whipped in Passion. And if you're into disembowlment, beheadings, and the occasional brain bleeding (see it and you'll know what I mean), this is the film for you. Gibson's got this one man martyr with buckets of blood film down pat.

Like I said, the characters are no better developed here then in say, a Die Hard film, or Snakes on a Plane. The finding of the jaguar causes a jump, but the chase . . . Let's just say Gibson must have found the one jaguar who's a member of AARP. How slow was IT?!?! Nice waterfall sequence, but if you've seen Romancing the Stone or The Fugitive, you know most of what's to come. I don't understand why a lot of Mayans were frightened by the total eclipse. Didn't they invent astronomy? Couldn't some of them have predicted this, and then tell the rest? And once a certain 3 ships start sailing in to visit this New World, the film is over and I'm left with a feeling of that's it? What was the point?

So let's see what lessons did we learn from this film. A nation that enslaves or attacks their weaker citizens, won't be able to stand up to a stronger force? A long way to go for that. There's always a bigger fish to swallow you up? Hell, we all learned that in Star Wars Episode 1, but at least we don't have to deal with Jar Jar Binks here.

I've been wondering wether to give this thumbs up or down. Despite its pluses, I have to give this a thumbs down. Just not substantial enough, as well as a little too heavy handed, to tell someone to pay 10 or 11 dollars to see this.

Caught it at the Fresh Meadows movie theater for free, with the help of a friend's SAG card. If I had pay to see it, would I feel any different? Doubtful.

P.S.: At fresh Meadows on Friday and Saturday nights, they apparently need a van full of cops to act as security. Why I wonder. Nothing happened, but still, cops? What the hell is going on in this area on weekends? It seems like a nice neighborhood. I don't know . . .

P.P.S.: Here's a link to YouTube's showing of a spoof of Apocalypto, using the trailer. It's funny, and only 65 seconds long.

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