Sunday, December 17, 2006

film - Apocalypto

Director Mel Gibson has another action-packed historical thriller on his hands with Apocalypto. You'll wonder, though, if he's heard of Lord of the Flies.

A small, quiet tribe is attacked at dawn. The survivors are tied together and trekked to the mythical Mayan stone city. The children are left behind. Along the way, the chance upon a diseased young girl amidst a field of bodies. She seeks help, but the warriors push her away. She then reveals a prophesey of how they will meet their downfall. The slaves are spooked but the warriors take little notice and march on. Upon arrival at the city, the men are painted blue and readied for sacrifice involving removing their hearts and then beheading. An act of nature signifies that the god has drunk enough blood and the men are spared. One of men, Jaguar Paw (Rudy Youngblood), manages to escape into the jungle and thus begins a non-stop run for survival, with the goal of reaching his pregnant wife and child who are hidden in a deep natural water well, which collects water as it rains.

The spectacular chase through the jungle between the good guy and the bad guys seems a little far fetched but is still highly watchable. You'd think that Jaguar Paw would be able to throw them off his trail after running through the jungle all night, but nooooo. Sure, these hunters are expert trackers, but the jungle is miles wide so you would think that he could easily elude them. Did you know that a man can outrun a ferocious, adult jaguar? Only in the movies... Some of the most arresting scenes in the chase involve a waterfall and the "rebirth" of the chased Jaguar Paw from the hunted into the hunter.

There was an interesting but seemingly far fetched scene in which the good guys, apparently free, are supposed to run down a corridor towards a corn field and then the jungle, to regain their freedom. While running away, they serve as targets for the warriors who chuck spears, javelins and let arrows fly and incredibly even the odds with their marksmanship.

There's a scene reminiscent of the scene in Behind Enemy Lines, when Owen Wilson's character crawls into a pit of decaying bodies. During the first half of the film, I guessed 100% the beach scene towards the end of the movie. Apache actor Raoul Trujillo is superb as the barrell-chested leader of the bad guy warriors, Zero Wolf. The entire cast was strong.

The dialogue is in the Yukatek Maya language with English subtitles and they even translate a word in the English F-word!

The film has been criticized for its inaccuracies, something that also happened after The Passion of Christ was released, but there's nothing that will prevent audiences from enjoying one of the best chase movies in a while. Mel Gibson has another solid winner on his hands.

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