Wednesday, November 29, 2006


I caught a free sneak preview of Apocalypto tonight. I wasn't quite sure what to expect, but the outline on the IMDb page for the movie reads:
As the Maya kingdom faces its decline, the rulers insist the key to prosperity is to build more temples and offer human sacrifices. Jaguar Paw (Rudy Youngblood), a young man chosen for sacrifice, flees the kingdom to avoid his fate.
The tagline for the poster for the movie reads:
No one can outrun their destiny
And the Wikipedia writeup for the movie claims:
The movie is partially intended as a political allegory about civilizations in decline, in a way referring to the perceived crises Western civilization, and the United States more specifically, may be facing. Gibson compares Mayan human sacrifice with "sending guys off to Iraq for no reason".
All of which gives a pretty much completely misleading impression of the movie. It doesn't deal at all with themes like the collapse of civilizations, or destiny, or political allegory, or anything else of substance. It's a pretty standard Hero's Journey kinda action flick. The hero is ripped out of the world as he knows it (which is almost but not quite entirely destroyed); he has to fight his way back to what remains; he confronts some bad guys along the way. There are depictions of tragic events which momentarily manipulate the heart strings--and then, in most cases, get entirely forgotten in the rest of the movie.

On the other hand, it's got some impressive bits of action, some great gore, and some scenes of absolute hilarity (of both intentional and unintentional varieties). All the dialogue is in some variety of Mayan, which is kinda cool, and some of the costumes and sets are amazing. It's too bad they had to support a Mel Gibson plot.

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