Saturday, February 23, 2008

Watching: Apocalypto

Another Mel Gibson epic about guys getting painted blue and cut into tiny little pieces!

Seriously, what the hell is wrong with Mel Gibson?

A few months ago, I finally got around to watching Braveheart. Meh. There were some OK battle scenes, lots of dubious history, and a totally tacked-on and unconvincing love-type thing. But through it all, you could tell that Mel was just hitting the marks he had to hit to get to the gruesome, graphic, extended torture scene that (eventually) ends the damn thing.

Then there was The Passion of the Christ. That one didn't have anyone painted blue, as I recall, but it did have buckets and buckets of blood, blood, blood, and essentially reduced the New Testament to a latter day Grand Guignol.

In Apocalypto, Mel brings the whips and knives to a whole new continent, and uses more blue paint. Other than that, it was kind of like third verse, same as the first.

Yah, the jungle settings were pretty awesome, but I've been watching a bunch of Werner Herzog movies lately, like Fitzcarraldo, where the filmmakers actually dragged a steamboat over a muddy mountain deep in the Amazon rainforest. The settings and stunts in Apocalypto were pretty convincing, although not quite to the level (of madness) that Herzog took it.

This is a movie that isn't so much enjoyed as endured. What was the point? For all the awesome spectacle, it's barely even entertainment, by any ordinary definition. There were some thrills, just by the nature of the story, but overall, it was just gruesome and unpleasant.

Mel's some kind of religious fundamentalist fanatic, and I almost think this might have been an anti-abortion dog-whistle message to the lunatic fringe. Y'know, it was all about the slaughter of innocents, and it opens with a pretentious quote about great civilizations being destroyed from within, and it's full of symbols of fertility, and the subplot is about a seriously difficult pregnancy, and the climax of the thing is the restoration of the traditional family unit... but who can think about any of that when guys are getting painted blue and having their bellies sliced open and their heads lopped off?

It also ends with a bunch of earnest conquistadors wading ashore, in perhaps the most heavy-handed deus ex machina in the history of film, brandishing crosses and seeking to redeem the heathen hordes.

I don't know where Mel can go next, but these guys had better watch out.

1 comment:

Professor J said...

I hope Mel leaves the Blue Man Group alone. I like them.