Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Apocalypto

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! *Insert Mayan Apocalypse Thing Here*







Apocalypto – 5 out of 5



For one reason or another, Apocalypto sat on my backburner of movies that I was really in no rush to see.  I’m not even entirely sure why because I can’t think of a single legitimate reason why I didn’t care to sit down with this one.  Maybe it was because I didn’t want to show any support for the drunk, anti-Semite that is Mel Gibson or maybe, at the time when it came out, I had a vendetta against films with subtitles because a movie with subtitles killed my karate master in the back alleys of a seedy neighbor.  Whatever the reason, I didn’t see this one until the year of our lord (Xenu) 2014 and, I have to say, I regret waiting because despite how crazy he is, Mel Gibson crafted a tremendous film.

I'm just going to assume that Mel had this already constructed in his backyard.


Set during the slowly dwindling years of the Mayan people, Apocalypto tells the tale of the dying people.  Crops aren’t growing, sickness is spreading and people keep stubbing their toes on literally everything.  The Mayans aren’t happy (so they predicted the end of the world in 2012 to get back at everyone).  The priests and rulers decide that they need to make the gods happy again so they can flourish and the Mayans did that by building temples and sacrificing the hell out of some fellow humans.  Small villages get raided to get the bodies needed; one of which belongs to Jaguar Paw (Rudy Youngblood—who not only starred in this film but has an awesome name).  Jaguar Paw is pulled away from his family, watches his village destroyed and is taken to be offered up to the gods.  However, when it seems the lords have had their fill of blood sacrifices, the captives are allowed to go free…as long as they survive the obstacles set before them.  Jaguar Paw, driven by getting back to his trapped son and expecting wife, kills the son of his captor; Zero Wolf (Roaul Trujillo), and tries running to freedom.  However, Zero Wolf and his crew aren’t going to let him go so easily and now Jaguar Paw is not only running to save his family but running for sheer survival.

Dat ass.


That's the same face I had watching this awesome spectacle.
To put it simply, Apocalypto is amazing!  The story of survival is universal and easy to get sucked in to.  Granted, human sacrifices aren’t really the rage anymore but seeing a character that has death looming over their heads and decides to say, “Fuck this,” to all that noise and takes off and is forced to confront his captors and bring the pain to their doorstep is nothing new but still a proven formula that works incredibly well.  With the brutality this film takes (man, Mel sure loves his violence), it only makes it easier to consume yourself into Jaguar Paw’s story and cheer him on to see him survive…even though you know the Mayan people are on their last leg.

The badassery of this scene would be greatly reduced if they all started humming
"Stayin' Alive."


The gorgeous landscapes act as an antithesis to the brutal
violence this film contains.
As crazy as Mel Gibson is, you can’t deny he is a talented man (still, his behavior in the past isn’t something to commend or encourage).  The guy is already an insanely talented actor and has shown that he can director quite well, too.  However, I think Mel’s visuals, especially combined with the lighting, created for some absolutely breath-taking cinematography that really created a feast for the eyes.  The epic scale of the temples, the rich colors of the jungle, the deep shadows, the striking imagery of blood and violence, and dynamic camera work all played together in concert to create something that just looked amazing…and, sometimes, horrifying to watch.  From a technical standpoint, this movie just looks incredible and, even if the story somehow turned out to be a giant turd, it still could have stood on this merit alone.  Luckily, like I stated before, the story is wickedly cool and all kinds of captivating.

Meanwhile, at the top, Tommy Lee Jones is yelling to Jaguar Paw about how he doesn't
care that he didn't kill his wife.


The Mayan version of Blue Steel.
Finally, the performances in this film are fan-flippin’-tastic!  Rudy Youngblood (seriously, that man has the name of a pro-wrestler and it is freakin’ awesome) is incredible to watch as Jaguar Paw.  His plight is already interesting (as I stated) but Youngblood makes the character real and, even though he speaks less and less as the story progresses, the man can speak volumes with his body language.  Youngblood is backed up by a whole cast of actors who really bring the historical world to life but the two that really stand out are the actors playing Zero Wolf and the wildly unhinged warrior that creates a rivalry early with Jaguar Paw; Middle Eye (Gerardo Teracena).

Not only does Youngblood have the name of a pro-wrestler but he's got the game face, too!


Zero Wolf was metal before metal even existed!
First off, Trujillo as Zero Wolf is just plain awesome…maybe awesome with a side of kick-ass.  The dude looks intimidating as all hell in his battle armor decorated with animal skulls and human jaws but Trujillo backs up this aura of ass kicking with a performance that literally screams, “I will rip your throat out if you disobey me.”  Unequivocally, Trujillo looks the part of the leader of the group out to hunt down Jaguar Paw—and you can see it in his every word and movement among his men—but what really made his character intriguing (and Trujillo’s performance unsettling good) is the unbridled rage that is seething in his every being.  To escape the clutches of his captors, Jaguar Paw kills Zero Wolf’s son and to say that Wolf is out for revenge would be underselling it greatly.  Watching the pure, uncut anger building behind Trujillo’s eyes as he plays Zero Wolf made him not only a true threat to Jaguar Paw’s freedom but made him a villain worthy of some of the greats that have graced the movie screen in the past.

Seriously, this dude is metal as all fuck!


And since you can’t have a great villain without a great evil sidekick, that’s where Middle Eye and Gerardo Teracena come in.  Middle Eye is your typical, sadistic underling that wants to lead but lacks the focus and discipline to be a leader, so he must constantly be put in his place.  Teracena’s performance is fantastic as he is just unhinged enough to be the loose cannon threat to our hero but believable enough where he doesn’t become a cartoon character.  Finally, the interaction between Teracena and Trujillo as they have a slight back-and-forth fight for power over the group just added another element to their characters and kept them from becoming one-dimensional and trivial.

There was a time when plugs were associated with badasses and not douche bags.


"Are you ready to rock?"
Apocalypto really has it all and has it all going on like Stacy’s mom did back when that reference was actually relevant.  The film just looks gorgeous, the action is more than satisfying, the characters are interesting and captivating, the story is simplistic but incredibly attention-getting, the sets and locales feel authentic and the performances are too awesome to adequately put into words.  Mel Gibson really directed the hell out of a HELL of a good movie.

And then the Mayans lived happily ever after!

2 comments:

  1. I never really considered watching this film because of all the Mel Gibson fuckery, but since I read your review I'm going to give it a shot. Thanks man!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No problem. Mel Gibson is crazy but he sure made an amazing movie.

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