Generally favorable reviews - based on 37 Critics What's this?

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 410 Ratings

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  • Starring: ,
  • Summary: A heart stopping mythic action-adventure set against the turbulent end times of the once great Mayan civilization. (Touchstone)
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 23 out of 37
  2. Negative: 2 out of 37
  1. 100
    For those of us who prefer to judge Gibson solely in terms of his art, the movie is a virtuosic piece of action cinema -- particularly in its second half...And while there has been no shortage of recent films that decry the horrors of war and man's inhumanity to his fellow man, I know of none other quite this sickeningly powerful.
  2. Gibson may not be much of a deep thinker, but he's a heck of a storyteller. Apocalypto turns out to be not a case of Montezuma's revenge but of Gibson's: It's something entirely unexpected, a sinewy, taut poem of action.
  3. 88
    Barbarously beautiful and gut-wrenchingly (literally) violent, it's a mesmerizing vision of the past refracted through the dark obsessions of the present.
  4. There's so much dark material jammed into this complicated, conflicted, challenging, and charismatic man's (Gibson) own noggin that sometimes he knows not, I think, what he's done. Here, behold, Mel Gibson has made the weirdest, most violent movie of the year.
  5. A lotta woe to sit through, with not much to think about and only one matter to address. After the two hours-plus have sped by with brutal alacrity, all that's left is for the survivors of the bloodbath to hose down and suss out a "new beginning." I'm still searching for mine, but you might have better luck.
  6. It's difficult to imagine the target audience for this film. Gangbangers, perhaps?
  7. It's "Braveheart" without historical significance and "Passion" without spirituality, though it dabbles in both, and it represents as brazen an act of career suicide as I can recall from a star director. If he were a first-timer, he'd never work again.

See all 37 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Negative: 42 out of 198
  1. WayneJ.
    Dec 17, 2006
    Absolutely amazing. An epic. Wait 10 years and it will be appreciated for the great film it is. Truly great films are never immediately appreciated by critics or movie fans - it takes time. Expand
  2. JohnM.
    Jun 22, 2007
    I really loved the film regardless of some of the critics own remarks . It might seem that the problem of the films historical vision of the Mayan city at the end of the Maya civilization - seems rather pointless to identity the 'city' in the film - My friend who is a Maya-ologist says that the 'pyramid of doom' in the film where the sacrifices took place is one of the pyramids in the city of Tikal which was abandoned in 9 cen AD way after the time that the movie says that Jaguar Paw taken captive- Gibson did use some old National Geographic paintings of the city of Tikal as his Mayan city in the movie ; nevertheless it is a good film and it is close to the new conceptions of the Maya in light of modern archaeological findings. The Maya were more warlike than 'peaceful' as was once thought. Expand
  3. May 8, 2011
    The things you see in this movie are heavy, highly detailed, intense, and exist in a realm that most filmmakers can't go-such as using genocide as a plot device in a non-documentary piece. Very real feelings electrify this movie. Expand
  4. AmyP.
    Dec 11, 2006
    I went into this movie wondering if I would be able to tolerate all the gore and violence I kept reading about in the reviews of this movie. Instead, I was treated to a visually stunning, wonderful story. There were a couple of scenes where I had to avert my eyes, however I have had to do more of that in some of those "teenage" horror flicks that keep on getting released. The story will keep you at the edge of your seat, all the way. Never a false or dull moment. I highly recommend this fascinating movie and hope it gets recognized at Awards time as it so rightly deserves. Expand
  5. MarkB.
    Jan 17, 2007
    Nearly three years ago, while squeamishly preparing myself to see Mel Gibson's now-legendary The Passion of the Christ, I stopped in a favorite sports bar and, learning that the bartender on duty had already seen it, asked her if I should have a courage- fortifying beer beforehand. "Yes," she replied, "and one after, too!" Gibson's followup might well demand a six-pack before viewing by the overly sensitive--any movie that opens with testicle-eating (animal, not human) is one that isn't shy about letting the audience know early on what it's in for--but if you're prepared for where Mel takes you, Apacalypto is one of the purest, most viscerally exciting and visually stunning action movies of the last several years. It helps enormously that the likable hero, Jaguar Paw (Rudy Youngblood) is motivated not by revenge (justifiable though this might be) but by self-defense and preservation of his family...especially when his wife and little boy represent the zenith of noncloying adorableness. Gibson's much-publicized use of the Mayan language throughout turns out to be something of a moot point: after the establishing sequences (which feature lots of tribal male bonding and practical joking, just what you'd expect from the director of Braveheart and a rabid Three Stooges fan), the action becomes so clearly set that Apocalypto would've worked beautifully as a silent film. And while you don't normally expect to use (or read) words like "subtlety", "thoughtfulness" and "nuance" when referring to the cinema of Mel Gibson, Apocalypto's left-field final twist brings the movie's breathless pacing and vivid violence to a surprisingly somber, reflective close. It also forces viewers to redefine again the controversial filmmaker who rather puzzlingly became the darling of the right-wing media with Passion (as though identifying and supporting intensely with Jesus' suffering in his last hours on earth and supporting troop buildups in Iraq and turning a deaf ear to restrictions on torturing prisoners were somehow synonymous) but recently made some anti-Bush statements that confounded the right-wing press while delighting those moviegoers who, like me, found absolutely nothing wrong with loving both Passion AND Fahrenheit 9/11. Being a big fan of Apocalypto as well doesn't prevent me from expressing a few reservations and misgivings, though: as far as certain other, far more heavily-publicized, tequila-fueled utterances made by Mel are concerned, it's hard to completely put them out of one's mind during a sequence in which Jaguar Paw, fleeing from Mayans attempting to sacrifice him to their gods, comes across some examples of their brutal handiwork that unavoidably brought to mind certain Holocaust photos and films I've seen. Equally disturbing is that, as hugely effective and even enjoyable as Apocalypto is during most of its running time, its maker (who reportedly encouraged director Ron Howard to use a lot more ketchup during the shootout scenes in Ransom) seems to be having just a little bit too much Herschell Gordon Lewis-style fun filming the tribal atrocities he's putting up on screen. Remember the junior high school boys' room admonition "Shake it more than twice and you're playing with it"? Put it this way: depicting one human sacrifice qualifies as legitimate plot revelation...but going back and lovingly doing it all over again is masturbation. Expand
  6. andy
    May 31, 2007
    The problem I have with this film is this: People not knowing that this movie is fictional will think this is exactly what Mayan civilization was like and conclude that Gibson's film is fact (because people are dumb). Gibson should have researched more extensively to give us more of a historical context of the Mayan world and times instead of focusing on an action-chase adventure. That being said, it was marginally entertaining but overly long. Expand
  7. MarkD.
    Dec 7, 2006
    This movie was awful. Although the early parts of the film created an excellently crafted vision of a lost world, the film quickly degenerated into pointless torture-porn. The film sacrificed continuity, drama, and plot in the interest of pressing a polished vision of misery that was neither entertaining or educational, and seemed to have less purpose than what you see in a horror movie gore-fest. I have no problem with violence in films, and in fact the most distasteful scenes weren't intrinsicly violent, but I couldn't get the image of Mel Gibson masturbating in the back of the theater (I saw an early screening that he personally introduced) to the relentless misery of both the characters on screen and the people in the theater. Expand

See all 198 User Reviews