Student Voice


May 21, 2024



'Apocalypto'a typical gruesome Gibson film

December 14, 2006

When I told my friends I had chosen “Apocalypto” as my final film review, many of them were outraged.

They begged me not to put one more dime into Mel Gibson’s crazy hands. Who knows what he could do with my hard earned money! Maybe buy more Nazi paraphernalia, or even worse —  more booze.

But there was something haunting and bizarre about the trailers that drew me in. Perhaps there was a curious part of me that wanted to see if Gibson had finally lost it.

Whatever it was, “Apocalypto” grabbed my attention from the very beginning and never let go.

The life of the average Mayan villager who lived 500 years ago may not seem very interesting to the average American who has access to TV and video games, so the beginning of the film seems slow.

But while I watched the townspeople go about their everyday activities, it helped me connect with the characters.

Even though I could not understand the language (the entire film is spoken in an ancient Mayan dialect), I could still understand love, family and community.

Yet that community is quickly shattered when a neighboring tribe attacks and captures the men for their human sacrifices.

Amid the chaos a young warrior, Jaguar Paw (Rudy Youngblood), hides his equally young, pregnant wife and son down a well, hoping he will be able to rescue them later.

The captives are brought to a huge Mayan metropolis that looks like the Temple of Doom on acid.

Tripped-out priests chant while men get their hearts ripped out. The crowd cheers as their heads go rolling down the temple’s steps.

From here on out, Gibson spills as much blood and guts as he can get away with. Jaguar Paw, with help from his spirit guide (the Jaguar — big surprise), escapes and leads his blood-thirsty pursuers back into the jungle.

Only this time it is he who is blood thirsty.

Nothing Jaguar Paw does to kill the attacking warriors is unique, and it was usually obvious what was coming next. He lures them over a waterfall, spits poisoned tree frog darts and disembowels them with traps set for wild game.

If only one of the men had been eaten alive by piranhas, the movie would have had everything. And at times the weaponry was so simple, I found it brilliant.

Like “The Passion of the Christ,” this film is only as historically and factually accurate as you want it to be.

What people seem to forget when they watch movies directed or written by Gibson is that they are just figments of his imagination that he came up with while eating his breakfast or taking a dump.

If he’s trying to send me some sort of subliminal, religious message through his movies, great. Good for him.

But I thought “Apocalypto” was just an amazing piece of fiction that took a lot of great pointers from the History Channel.

Forget the quasi-horror film “Turistas” — the jungle in Gibson’s mind is way more fucked up.

Jenna Lee is a student at UW-River Falls.