Martin Scorsese really loves this movie
Release date: December 8, 2006
Director: Mel Gibson
Language: Yucatec Mayan
Who should watch this movie: People who liked Braveheart. People who see themselves as the hero in any situation.
When should you watch this movie: When you’ve already seen all the Mission Impossible movies.
The sell: Mel Brooks is obsessed with the pain and abuse one person can undergo at the hands of a violent state. Though unsurprising given his Nazi sympathy, it is bizarre to watch this theme reprised in all of his movies, from Passion of the Christ to Braveheart. Apocalypto is the same. We watch as the protagonist, Jaguar Paw, is ripped from his family, tortured, and forced to endure a seemingly endless string of terrifying obstacles on his path home. The issue is that it feels less like a condemnation of sadistic violence and more like a celebration of the few who can survive it. It is certainly an exciting movie, and you can’t help but root for the underdog protagonist who comes up with increasingly creative solutions to the Odyssey of hardship thrown at him. However, there is no internal logic to the film. There is no concrete motivation for the violence. Survival is the goal but the survival feels empty because we know nothing about the main character beyond his demonstrated ability to withstand severe abuse. Yes, he is supposedly motivated by his pregnant partner who takes on her own gauntlet in his absence but we know very little about her either. Overall, this movie fails to develop any meaningful themes and leaves the audience not with satisfaction but with relief that the journey is over. Additional points subtracted for poor representation of Mayan culture!