Starring: Rudy Youngblood as Jaguar Paw Dalia Hernández as Seven Jonathan Brewer as Blunted Morris Birdyellowhead as Flint Sky Carlos Emilio Báez as Turtles Run Amilcar Ramírez as Curl Nose Israel Contreras as Smoke Frog Israel Ríos as Cocoa Leaf María Isabel Díaz as Mother in Law Espiridion Acosta Cache as Old Story Teller Mayra Serbulo as Young Woman Iazua Larios as Sky Flower Lorena Hernández as Village Girl Itandehui Gutierrez as Wife Sayuri Gutierrez as Eldest Daughter
Special Features: Becoming Mayan: Making “Apocalypto” Deleted Scene with Optional Commentary by Director Mel Gibson and Co-Writer Farhad Safinia Feature Commentary by Director Mel Gibson and Co-Writer Farhad Safinia
Other Info: Widescreen (1.85:1) Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound DTS 5.1 Digital Surround Sound Maya Language English, French, Spanish Subtitles Running Time: 138 Minutes
Synopsis: The following is from the official DVD description:
“From Mel Gibson, director of ‘The Passion of The Christ’ and the Academy Award®-winning ‘Braveheart’ (Best Director, Best Picture, 1995) comes the thrilling historical epic ‘Apocalypto.’ This intense, nonstop action-adventure transports you to an ancient South American civilization, for an experience unlike anything you’ve ever known. In the twilight of the mysterious Mayan culture, young Jaguar Paw is captured and taken to the great Mayan city where he faces a harrowing end. Driven by the power of his love for his wife and son, he makes an adrenaline-soaked, heart-racing escape to rescue them and ultimately save his way of life. Filled with unrelenting action and stunning cinematography, ‘Apocalypto’ is an enthralling and unforgettable film experience.”
“Apocalypto” is rated R for sequences of graphic violence and disturbing images.
The Movie: Let me start out by saying I think Mel Gibson has an unhealthy obsession with gore and violence. He’s shown it in “Braveheart” and “Passion of The Christ.” He proves it again in “Apocalypto.” Gibson isn’t content to just show a guy being hit by an arrow. The arrow has to come out the guy’s mouth. He doesn’t just show a jaguar attack a man. He shows it literally chewing a guy’s face off. Gibson continually takes it to the extreme on every front. It’s to the point that I started feeling like I was watching a horror movie rather than an adventure/thriller. There is just as much torture and sadism in “Apocalypto” as there is in “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.” If you don’t handle violence well, I don’t recommend you watch “Apocalypto.” Mel Gibson puts his characters through hell.
That being said, the core story of “Apocalypto” is quite engaging and impressive. The Mayan environment is unlike anything seen on the big screen before. Gibson gambled a lot by placing it in such a unique location, using unknowns, and filming it all in Mayan, but it paid off. It felt very authentic and looked fantastic. And the story of Jaguar Paw racing to save his family resonates on a lot of levels. Despite being horrified by the gore and violence, you can’t turn away. The fact that Gibson kills almost every other character in the movie makes the peril of Jaguar Paw’s wife very real. You think Gibson just might be crazy enough to kill them off, so you stick around till the end to find out what he does.
The action scenes are also quite spectacular. There are a lot of bloody battles between the characters that leave you on the edge of your seat. In the third act when Jaguar Paw is on the run in the jungle, it starts feeling like Predator, but without the aliens. Most of what our hero goes through should have killed him, but it’s forgivable. The final result is a movie that action fans will love. Newcomer Rudy Youngblood also proves himself to be a great action hero as Jaguar Paw.
The Extras: The bonus features on this DVD are a bit light. First up is “Becoming Mayan: Making ‘Apocalypto”. It’s about 25 minutes long and covers various aspects of the making of the movie like sets, locations, costumes, weapons, makeup, and more. Much of the crew is interviewed, but only one of the lead actors appears. They are glaringly absent from the bonus features. Next up is a lone deleted scene showing a burned deer walking away from the Mayan city. It’s less than 30 seconds long. Rounding things out is a commentary by Director Mel Gibson and Co-Writer Farhad Safinia. Gibson has his trademark sense of humor in the commentary, but it’s a little strange to hear over some of his more horrific scenes in the film. As little as there is here, I suspect some sort of special edition will come along in the future.
The Bottom Line: If you can handle gore and violence, or if you enjoyed “Braveheart,” then “Apocalypto” is for you. The film has a great story and an interesting setting, but you have to watch the characters go through hell as it unfolds. Sensitive viewers should pass on it.