Film & DVD Review: Apocalypto

  • Directed by: Mel Gibson
  • Certification: Italy:VM14 (re-rated) (court decision) (2007) / Norway:15 / Portugal:M/12 / Hong Kong:III / Switzerland:16 (canton of Vaud) / Switzerland:16 (canton of Geneva) / Italy:T (original rating) / France:-12 / Singapore:M18 / China:(Banned) / Argentina:18 / Australia:MA / Ireland:15A / South Africa:16 (V) / Finland:K-15 / Netherlands:16 / Canada:14A (Alberta) / Germany:18 / UK:18 / Thailand:R-14 / Taiwan:R-18 / Philippines:R-18 / Malaysia:18PL / Japan:R-18 / Israel:18 / Indonesia:Dewasa / Canada:18A (British Columbia/Ontario) / USA:R
  • Running Time: 139 minutesAfter the wildly successful The Passion of the Christ was interested to see if the maverick actor and director Mel Gibson could do it again. Like the Passion, this film is made in an obscure language with English subtitles. Not everyone has the patience to deal with subtitles, so it’s a bit of a gamble. Subtitled foreign language films have more of the flavour of art house cinemas like QFT rather than the Movie House at Yorkgate. However, the path was cleared for subtitled films in mainstream cinema theatres by the wild success of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Hero and The House of Flying Daggers.

    Gibson has made a terrific tension-filled, rip-roaring chase film. There’s lots of blood and gore set to a high-adrenaline musical score. It starts off quietly enough with a small hunting party out to provide food for their little village in the forest. They catch a tapir and have a lot of fun at the expense of one of their number, Blunted, who seems unable to father children. It’s the typical piss-taking male bonding seen in any gathering of young males the world over. Even Flint Sky, the older leader gets in the act by offering Blunted some herbs to rub on ‘down below’ to help his little problem. They turn out to be chillies.

    The party is disturbed by a group of strangers passing through their forest who tell fearful tales of having to flee destruction wrought on them by vicious marauders. They say nothing of this to the villagers when they return with the tapir, but their village becomes the next victim of a sneak night attack.

    Jaguar Paw, one of the young hunters, manages to hide his young heavily pregnant wife and son before he is captured and dragged through the jungle with many others to a stone-built town. To his horror, he finds that he and his people are to be sacrificed to bring good harvests back to the Mayan society.

    Without revealing plot details, Jaguar Paw, is determined to get back to his village and to rescue his wife and family from her perilous hiding place. Equally, a small band of his captors are determined to stop him. The jungle chase scenes are edge-of-the-seat heart-stoppingly awesome. The audience really roots for Jaguar Paw as he dodges wild animals and tries to even the odds in his wild flight to freedom.

    Gibson has triumphed with an unknown cast in an unknown tongue. Don’t miss it!

    Reviewed by David Kerr

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