For some reason, I wasn’t expecting much from this movie but after watching Apocalypto, I was proven wrong. Gibson returned with a thrilling epic, transporting us back in time to the 16th-century in the Mesoamerican rainforests, taking us through shockingly fantastical imagery and a story filled with suspense. Of course, it’s not a Gibson movie without extreme gore, so expect a lot of gruesome beheadings, jaguar maulings, and ritualistic sacrifices. Apocalypto is not a movie for the squeamish. If you don’t have the stomach for this, turn away.
How to Stream or Download Apocalypto
You can stream it or you can download the film from a digital store of your choosing, click on the Download button at the end of the review to begin. If you like Mel Gibson, check out also our reviews of Braveheart (1995), The Patriot (2000), and Hacksaw Ridge (2016).
The Movie Review
The story begins when a young Mayan hunter, Jaguar Paw, gets captured during a village attack by fierce warriors. Fortunately, Jaguar was able to hide his pregnant wife, Seven, and his son, Turtle Run, safe inside a well during the invasion. Now he and his fellow prisoners have a cruel fate awaiting them, as they are sent to a majestic city built on violence, fear, and oppression – where they would be offered as human sacrifices to appease the gods.
Meanwhile, his family is trapped underground with no route of escape, and their chances of living depend on Jaguar Paw. With his unshakable courage and determination, he sets off on a bloody rampage to meet his loved ones once again.
Much like his previous film, The Passion of the Christ (2004), Mel Gibson’s visuals do all the storytelling more than every piece of dialogue combined. Not to mention, most of the dialogue is spoken in a different tongue. Together with co-writer Farhad Safinia, the two wanted to create a film that was historically accurate.
They consulted with a Maya specialist and archaeology professor, Richard D. Hansen, who has worked to preserve Maya ruins and the Guatemalan rainforests. Despite that, there were many inaccuracies spotted in the film, as the human sacrifices were more similar to Aztec rituals than the Mayans.
What I like about this movie is how real the setting feels, from the set design, the costuming, the makeup, to the performances of the talented cast. Many of them are unknown actors, who are cast for their genuine indigenous roots. Rudy Youngblood, who plays Jaguar Paw, is incredibly fierce in this and makes his onscreen relationship with Dalia Hernandez (Seven) so believable, even the young Carlos Baez (Turtle Run) is natural, especially when you realize that he speaks an ancient language in the film.
American Indian actor Raoul Trujillo also plays a great villain. Apocalypto is an incredibly immersive film, it’s the type that will leave you on the edge of your seat. Many of it is thanks to the amazing cinematography and soundtrack done by Dean Semler and James Horner, respectively.
Under all the facial tattooing, piercings, and ancient languages, is a human story about family, love, and everything the opposite to it. The bad people are shown as bad and good are shown as good people, while presenting death the way it is in real life: brutal.
The violence in this film emphasizes the cruel aspects of men and the formidableness of nature. Many of the villains are so evil that seeing them die in a peaceful way would be such a complete letdown.
The Bottom Line
In conclusion, Apocalypto is a wild ride of a film, it’s the kind of historical adventure that holds your attention throughout. The film transcends all foreign ways of life with its relatable characters and touching story, all the blood and action just adds to the realism and shows how truly scary it is to be hunted by a pack of wild hunters.
After all, Apocalypto is a chase movie. Gibson proves mastery of his craft in this action-packed drama and surprisingly, I hope to see more of it again.