09 December, 2006

Apocalypto

Apocalypto is one of the best movies I've seen in the last 3 years. It's difficult to describe, because in some ways it's like many other films out there. The heart of the movie is essentially a primal chase seen on foot--think Last of the Mohicans without Daniel Day-Lewis. For the most part, however, the movie is nothing you've ever seen before. It's genuine storytelling in the purest possible way. Mel Gibson and his coauthor Farhad Safinia took characters who initially appear wildly different from the twenty-first century audience, living in a world as foreign to us as another planet. Through the power of story we come to care deeply for them. I cared more about Jaguar Paw and his little (but growing) family and his hunting buddies than I have for any human film character in the last five years.

Ironically, the spare subtitles and Mayan dialect may have played a huge part in that. I realised that by keeping the language simple, elemental and straight-to-the-point, Gibson and Safinia kept the characters relatable. I couldn't help but contrast this film with The Return Of The King. By the end of ROTK--as much as I loved the film as a whole--I couldn't have cared less if Sam and Frodo just sizzled in the heart of Mount Doom like a couple of slabs of Hobbit bacon. The two stories share that Hero's Journey element, but where Sam monologues Frodo in a Give Me An OscarĀ® style speech every twenty-five feet, Jaguar Paw just shuts up and runs for his life. Me, that's what I would do. Of course then once I got home I'd probably write a wordy blog about it--but that's a different movie altogether. Stranger Than Fiction perhaps.

There are several scenes that went a long way to explaining Mel Gibson's newsworthy actions over the summer. Any man who has those images living inside his head has obviously spent no small amount of time in a dark place. I don't doubt for a minute that Gibson is at least one-third pure distilled nutsobutt jerk. But like so many other nutsobutt jerks before him--Hemingway, Poe, King--he can tell one heck of a story.

14 Comments:

At 5:58 AM, December 09, 2006, Blogger Reel Fanatic said...

This does indeed look like a one-of-a-kind .. I'm actually glad to hear that the plot is fairly simple and the dialogue sparce, because this should be a real visual feast .. I'll be finding out today

 
At 8:13 AM, December 09, 2006, Blogger Sarcastro said...

A much better review than the little bitchy piece in the Nashville Scene.

 
At 8:38 AM, December 09, 2006, Blogger John H said...

what Sar said..

Lynn and I have been itching to see this movie since we first started seeing the previews. Thanks to you, we are definitely going to satisfy that 'itch'.

If we boycotted movies based on the proclivities and sins of the director...God knows what we would be left with.

 
At 8:48 AM, December 09, 2006, Blogger Kat Coble said...

I just read the piece in The Scene since Sar mentioned it.

Holy cow. That was a snipy, petulant outlook on the film. I get that Gibson isn't in for some of the hip circles, but that was no reason to evaluate the film with the Snarkometer on 11.

I can't trust anyone who bashes Braveheart anyway.

 
At 9:46 AM, December 09, 2006, Blogger Sarcastro said...

The shittiest part of the review is the spoiler at the end, effectively taking away any impact that the fim's ending would have.

p.s. Bruce Willis is a ghost, Jaye Davison has a penis, and the Planet of the Apes is really Earth.

p.p.s. Soylent Green is PEOPLE!

 
At 9:51 AM, December 09, 2006, Blogger Sarcastro said...

That should read "film", not "fim".

 
At 10:35 AM, December 09, 2006, Blogger grandefille said...

It's pronounced "fim" if you're where I'm from, Sarcastro. Actually, we're more likely to call what you put into the camera "fim." Hee.

Ms. Coble, you just may have convinced me to see this thing. I saw the preview a couple of weeks ago and went "ooooh, oh, ooooh, eeek, violent, peril," and had decided against it, but ...

Also, excellent viewpoint on talent and jerkiness. A true gift can sometimes overcome one's squeamishness about appearing to endorse someone's bad behavior.

Unless you're the Scene, of course. Whose true gift is long gone.

 
At 11:13 AM, December 09, 2006, Blogger ceeelcee said...

"Nutsobutt." Heh.

That one's going stright into the vernacular.

Attributed, of course.

 
At 12:59 PM, December 09, 2006, Blogger Slartibartfast said...

You have pretty much convinced me to see this, although my circumstances dictate it be a rental. This probably isn't a good one to take the kids to, and with the cost of admission, snacks, and a sitter for 2 kids for 3-4 hours, the movie experience would end up costing us about $100. Very few movies are worth that...even Peter Jackson movies. ;)

But I digress...

I will most definitely see it on DVD. Gibson, with all his demons, knows how to make films.

The scene from Passion where Mary is remembering Jesus as a child culminating in Jesus saying to her, "Behold, I make all things new!" touched me in a way I can't describe. I'll never forget it.

Yes, the man is good at what he does.

 
At 4:39 PM, December 09, 2006, Anonymous hamletta said...

Well, a Vanderbilt professor who actually knows about Mayan civilization says Mel's full of it, so the Scene review may not be so out of line, after all.

 
At 5:47 PM, December 09, 2006, Blogger Chance said...

I have not seen the movie yet, but I was really surprised how they marketed it after the whole issue with Mel Gibson. After that ordeal, I thought they would lay low with the Mel connection, but instead they called it "Mel Gibson's Apocalypto" and even showed him talking about the movie during the commercials of it.

 
At 8:47 PM, December 09, 2006, Blogger Kat Coble said...

Chance,
Mel financed the film himself and is only distributing it through Disney for a fee. I get the impression that he was the great brain behind the marketing. I also think they're counting on a bit of brand loyalty that would overlook the events of the summer.

I was personally offended deeply by what he said. But if I'm still gonna see Woody Allen movies, then I'll still see Mel Gibson movies.

 
At 12:41 AM, December 12, 2006, Blogger Mad Mike said...

It was a good epic on par with the Gladiator and The Patriot, fell short of Braveheart though. It was purely visceral and well shot.

 
At 11:58 AM, December 12, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for a totally delightful site.{Benediction}

 

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