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Review (8/10)
(By Liam Cullin)

Apocalypto follows the fictional events leading up to the final days before the fall of the Mayan Empire. In the movie, we catch up with a small tribe living in the forests surrounding the Mayan temples. They live a somewhat peaceful existence hunting wild animals and enjoying life in a closely knit community. One day, after catching dinner, the tribe's hunting party encounters another tribe wandering through their forest. What starts as a tense showdown between the two tribes leads to a warning from the wandering tribe that their village has been plundered and that they have lost everything. So, our once-happy hunters make their way back to the village living in fear of what lurks in the surrounding forest. The following morning, their village is invaded, the women are killed, the men who didn't die defending the tribe are taken captive and the children are left to fend for themselves. However, in the midst of the invasion, a tribe-member named "Jaguar Paw" (played wonderfully by Rudy Youngblood) manages to hide his son and his pregnant wife in the tribe's water well. Although he promises that he'll return for them, he is soon captured. What follows is Jaguar Paw's journey to escape his captors and save his family. Along his journey, we get an ominous message about what lies ahead, more than a few beheadings, and some of the most brutal kills seen in a non-horror movie in quite some time.

To be completely honest, I went into Apocalypto with very low expectations. I know you're probably thinking that I was negatively affected by "Gibson-gate" but that's not the case. Yeah, I was just as disgusted as the next guy with Gibson's rant, but I found the media just ran the whole story into the ground to the point where I really just don't care anymore. The real reason I went into this movie with such low expectations was because I just don't understand Gibson's recent fascination with abandoning his core audience. I grew up watching Gibson in such classics like the "Lethal Weapon" series, "Ransom", "Conspiracy Theory" and, of course, "Braveheart". However, the guy has just lost me with some of his recent filmmaking decisions, including "The Passion of the Christ". That movie in particular lost me. It was preachy, and I don't like to be preached to. Then, when word came that he was making a movie about an ancient civilization with a no-name cast that wasn't even going to be in English?! I couldn't help but wonder what happened that the guy went so far to abandon me as a fan. Well, I was wrong.

Apocalypto is everything you could want from a Mel Gibson movie. You might call it a mix between "Braveheart" with a little "Last of the Mohicans" and "Dances with Wolves" thrown in there for good measure. We've got a fantastic story that is passionately told and beautifully shot. And for a movie with "no-name actors" you'd never know. Although, off the top of my head, I couldn't tell you one person who starred in this movie, they were all fantastic. Maybe it was the "father" part of me that could relate to Jaguar Paw's journey to save his family. Or maybe it was the guy who was chasing Jaguar Paw that scared the living hell out of me. Hell, if I ran into that guy on the street you can bet your ass I'd be running as fast as I could in the opposite direction! Then, there's the story. Up until very recently, all I knew about this movie that it was directed by Gibson, it was in another language, and it focused on the fall of Mayan civilization. It's not too often that I go into a movie knowing so little, which is probably a big reason why I found the story so surprisingly good. Sure, I had a few complaints (the little girl and her prophecy kinda came outta nowhere and seemed a little strange) but such problems were easy to overlook.

If you're one of the people who has abandonded Mel Gibson in the wake of "Gibson-gate" you're probably wondering how this movie even made it to theaters. There were some who suggested Disney should've abandoned Gibson and this movie over the possibility of any negative publicity. But after seeing the movie, I can easily see why the studio stuck with Gibson. The movie is a bonafide hit and is one that I'd highly recommend seeing -- and seeing it on the big screen. It's a big movie and deserves that consideration. Even if you think Gibson doesn't.

Keyword : Mel Gibson, Horror, Children, You, Asin, Ant, Animal, Apocalypto, Ate, Ayan, Beautiful, Before The Fall, Empire, Escape, Ex, Fascination, Good, Heart, Here, I Do, Knowing, Look, May, Next, Once, Out, Red, Return, Run, Running, RV, Screen, Stuck, Take, Taken, The Fall, The Invasion, The Women, They Live, Up, W., War, Water, Youngblood, FILM, Bi, Maya, Now, Cas, Ron

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