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Wick's Review

Created Jan 10, 2012 10:15PM PST • Edited Nov 05, 2019 12:48AM PST

  1. Quality
  2. Great 4.0

    Half anthropological study, half snuff film, Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto is fascinating and often breathtaking. Oh yeah, it’s also gratuitously violent, giving full reign to its creator’s sick taste for hand-to-hand savagery.

    Mad Mel’s movie canvases a panoply of Mayan curiosities: human sacrifice, ball courts, step pyramid rituals. Countless fatal situations get played out along the way.

    • Death by black panther: Particularly vicious.
    • Death by viper: Fast and certain.
    • Death by killer bees: Useful as a commando technique.
    • Death by poison dart from a blow gun: Find the right frog, dip the darts, then make a blow gun.
    • Death by human sacrifice: Lots of these, complete with…
    • Death by cutting out a beating heart: Done correctly, the victim sees his own heart before expiring.
    • Death by head bashing on a rock below a waterfall.
    • Death by javelin: Gotta show what those Mayan warriors can do.
    • Death by being pushed off a cliff.
    • Death by slit throat: Particularly bloody.

    A word about the subtitles: The characters speak Yucatec, but the spare dialog is easy to read.

  3. Great 4.0

    A cast of mostly unknowns are greatly convincing as Mayan Indians. Notables include:

    • Raoul Trujillo’s Zero Wolf, captain of the Holcane Warriors, is as fearsome a warrior as you’re ever going to see.
    • Rudy Youngblood’s Jaguar Paw is an affecting hero and effective physical performer.
    • Morris Birdyellowhead jumps off the screen as his powerful father.
    • A role titled “First Temple Sacrifice” gives a sense of the movie.
  4. Male Stars Great 4.0
  5. Female Stars Great 4.0
  6. Female Costars Great 4.0
  7. Male Costars Great 4.0
  8. Great 4.0

    Mel Gibson may be a sadistic, misanthropic dick, but rare talent is rare talent. Apocalypto proves it.

  9. Direction Great 4.0

    Mel gets to explore human blood sport taken to the extreme.

  10. Play Very Good 3.5

    Mel and junior writing partner Farhad Safinia use the tropes of action movies – an innocent man fights for his life and that of his family – to explore the fall of the Mayan Empire. However, they apparently mix in much from the Aztecs, such as the mass human sacrifice. More in Reality below.

  11. Music Good 3.0
  12. Visuals Perfect 5.0

    Outstanding visuals of the flora, fauna, villages, quarries, kilns, temples and ball fields of Mayan civilization. Wow.

  13. Content
  14. Sordid 3.2

    See the catalog of snuff methods in the Summary commentary above.

  15. Sex Titillating 1.9
  16. Violence Monstrous 4.6
  17. Rudeness Profane 3.0
  18. Glib 1.8

    Was the fall of Mayan civilization anywhere near this heinous? Apparently not. Mel Gibson appears to have borrowed liberally from Aztec history and then punched the whole thing up to Hollywood glib reality. Details can be found in the extensive Wikipedia section on the movie’s controversies. These include the representation of the Maya and of the human sacrifice.

    Still, the movie brought more attention to Mayan culture than any ten documentaries, for which archeological consultant Richard Hansen can be thankful.

    One fascinating detail among many: the Maya used flint knives and weapons, not having entered the Iron Age. Woe be it to them when the Spaniards arrived with not just steel but guns.

  19. Circumstantial Surreal 2.1
  20. Biological Surreal 2.1

    30 stuntmen made the surreal look kinda real.

  21. Physical Glib 1.3


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