Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Three by Three
Three things I liked about Apocalypto.
  • The fact that Gibson doesn't cheat. This is a movie entirely in ancient Mayan, with not a word of English, and it works beautifully. I see the trailer for 10,000 BC, and am dismayed at the laziness of making the people seem like modern-day English speakers, and think of what potential there really is in an epic action movie taking place in pre-historic times. Gibson makes us believe these characters really are 15th-century Mayans. I don't have the history to know how many liberties he took, especially in areas like costume, makeup, tribal dynamics, but the bottom line is that it feels real.
  • The focus. For all of the hundreds of extras this is really a very simple story, and Gibson keeps us focused by pretty much never leaving (save for a moment here or there) Jaguar Paw's point of view. Which makes it that much sweeter when he triumphs at the end.
  • The horror. Gibson's point here is to demonstrate very palpably that man's horrific treatment of man is not new, and that it is in the end corrupting. And he does so by giving us an unflinching look at what it would be like to be be violently abducted into slavery. He makes sure we feel the terror these people feel, and yet it's never gratuitous or cheap.

Three things I did not like about Apocolypto.

  • The violence. Very effective, but a bit strong fro my weak constitution. I was forewarned about the whole jaguar-ripping-off-guy's-face thing and so therefore looked away.
  • The pace - it was a tad slow, with a bit too much time given over to near-identical short scenes of prisoners being marched through the jungle, or of Jaguar running. Could have used a slight trim.
  • James Horner's score - it's not bad, but it was a bit too modern. Gibson did such a good job of making the setting and costumes and props look very authentic and real that i wish the score had followed suit.

Until Whenever

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