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Generally favorable reviews- based on 411 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 70 out of 411

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  1. tor
    Jan 15, 2011
    Sure, Gibson ain't my favorite person, but let's be fair to this movie. It's great. Brutal and violent, but I was engrossed in the story from the beginning. Visually stunning. Twists and turns. Probably would have been an Oscar contender had Gibson not been so disliked. If you can get past the director and like action/adventure, you're likely to love it.
  2. 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.
  3. Apr 20, 2011
    A real spectacle! Drawing inspiration from Mayan culture, Gibson creates his own vision of Mesoamerica, aesthetically coherent yet overwhelming to the senses. In it, urban mercenaries attack isolated villages, hoping to reverse their city's decline by sacrificing captives to an insatiable sun-god. The sacrifice and the frenzy around it are dazzling; everything looks reminiscent of Mayan art yet, at the same, time, marvelously new. Beneath the exotic surface, however, run familiar emotional currents, and the charismatic young actors have no difficulty inspiring sympathy despite speaking entirely in a language most of us have never heard. But, alas, Gibson brought his ideological sledgehammer to the set. As the film opens, we read, in the immortal words of Will Durant, "A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within." In other words, what could have been a tale of a village besieged or the birth of a hero or the power of love is also an apology for imperialism. Look here, says Gibson, let me show you why Native Mesoamerica DESERVED Cortes. Those heathens piled up dead bodies like so much firewood, making the theft, betrayal, slaughter, and germ warfare that Europeans practiced a form of justice--pretty much what the conquistadors said at the time, if memory serves. As for the argument that the film is meant as a mirror of contemporary western culture, that does not shut down other lines of interpretation. If there's one thing everyone knows about Gibson, it's that he's a pre-Vatican II Catholic, meaning he was raised with the idea that every story has four levels: the distant past, the recent past, the end of time, and the individual soul. From the title onward, "Apocalypto" announces that it's about Mesoamerica AND the modern west AND the Apocalypse AND a person's family bonds, no one of which cancels out another. Objections aside, I recommend the film but suggest following it with "The Mission." Expand
  4. Sep 20, 2010
    This movie is about the fall of the aztec empire and Gibson has done an excellent job portraying the horrifying brutality of this race. Watched again in HD after reading the book Aztec by Gary Jennings and Gibson's movie brought the book to life. Previous comments were correct that the Mayans had disappeared long before the time in the movie with the arrival of Cortez the killer. He does use the mayan god Kukulcan instead of aztec Huitzilopochtli - not sure why he didn't get his facts right but still great historical fiction. Expand
  5. Nov 19, 2011
    Actually pretty good for the most part. The one flaw of the movie is that its far too long and really could have been shortend quite a bit and imo it could have gotten the film a lot better reviews as well. It does get a little dull at times and doesnt really have much suspense either but still a solid film.
  6. Jan 31, 2011
    Fantastic film. I can't really say it was an "accurate portrayal" of the Mayan culture but it sure felt like it. It was intense and visually outstanding, when you see the sacrifice scene and the crowd of people is shown it is amazing how many there are, and if you see pictures of the actors after watching the movie it's incredible how they transformed them completely with the piercings that looked so real and clothing that seemed so authentic. I liked how the movie wasn't in English because it would have ruined the movie like other times I've seen things like world war II movies where the Germans all have American accents. Overall this film just feels like what i would have imagined Mayan culture to be like and the one small complaint that i had was in character development. Besides the main character you didn't really learn much about anyone. Still this movie is not to be missed, unless you have a weak stomach because there is some pretty visual stuff, but again that really just helps capture the feel of the setting. Expand
  7. Jul 15, 2011
    I know now why the Mayans went extinct. They were nothing but a bunch of wild, bloodthirsty animals. Praise the Lord, or the Spanish, for bringing some civilization to that part of the world. The Arab world with their death cult and suicide bombings and their medieval superstitions is next, the last realm of barbarism.
  8. Nov 17, 2010
    This is a very good movie. The costumes, the jungle depiction of the natural world. It presents a non-European world view. The action is fantastic. It is brutal, but not gratuitous. It works on many levels. Pre-European native american worldviews are sorely needed in the film world. The actors all play great roles. It may not be historically perfect, but really enjoyable. The prophecies are pertinent to our modern world. Expand
  9. Feb 6, 2011
    If one can get past the fact that this movie was meant to entertain and not educate, I think they would enjoy this film. The movie is a bit violent and not recommended for younger viewers. I think that the film does show how violent the Mayans probably lived.
  10. Sep 25, 2014
    Apocalypto is a beautiful and horrifying movie about a tribe of native Americans which gets raided by the Mayas to be enslaved, painted blue, ritually sacrificed, eaten and who knows what else. It is a virtual descent into hell and back again for the viewer, though nowhere near as persistently hellish as Passion of Christ, as the movie follows the main character while he tries to escape the clutches of the deranged Mayan soldiery. All of it is done using Mayan language, which adds quite a lot of believability to the entire thing. Historically though, the proceedings are a sort of mix between Mayan and Aztec culture, and deliberately so, for reasons I`ll get to.
    As always I feel myself compelled to use Metacritic to point out allegories in movies, because nobody else is apparently able to notice them. And particularly the "this isn`t historically accurate" people, who have missed every single point about both Passion of Christ and Apocalypto. The reason Gibson used a composite for the imperial culture in Apocalypto is precisely to make it obvious that the movie is not intended to be a docudrama but an allegory of the conflict between power and empire on one side and freedom and natural humanity on the other. It is expected that the viewer notices these simple things to be able to also notice that the entire religious ceremony through which the Mayan elite exercises its power is a farce, a pantomime and a gigantic fraud, and that they all know it up on top of the pyramid, while the subjects down below do not. The whole thing is nothing more than a staged performance of state organized brutality, intended to frighten the peasants.
    This is the main statement Gibson makes in Apocalypto: that power is a fraud, maintained only through terrorizing the people. But because he is not really talking about Mayas, but about our present western power elite, he distorts it by mixing Aztec and Mayan culture. And this is what should tell us that the movie is a political, philosophical allegory about imperialism and oligarchy, which is not intended to be viewed as a period piece or anything of the sort. Otherwise he would not have blended the cultures see? Like Passion of Christ, Apocalypto tries to deal with the hypocrisy and mass murder at the heart of western civilization, with illegitimate power elites suppressing humanity, justice, freedom and truth, by using lies and violence in order to perpetuate their power. It presents a view on the evils of government as organized violence against the inherent good of man in his natural state. Once you truly understand this you`ll figure out that neither of these two movies are strictly about the subject matters, but are far more profound than that. So that`s why these "historical inaccuracies that might confuse people" are in the movie, and not because "Gibson doesn`t know how to read a history book".

    Apocalypto is an allegory of contemporary oligarchical nonsense like the "War on Terror", the "War on Drugs", and an endless barrage of equally contrived and fake things. In fact, it is an allegory of any rule by lies, fraud, violence, intimidation and public spectacle and above all it is an allegory of good and evil. But if Mel Gibson had made this movie without allegories, he would probably have been shot by the CIA or been sent off to an insane asylum like Hemingway and Pound were. So much for free speech in the United States, and allegories it is then! Too bad most of the public are deaf dumb and blind to those. Oh well, what can you do, apart from whine about it on Metacritic?

    I`m done with my rant now. Go watch Apocalypto at once if you haven`t already. Mass stupidity must be resisted!
  11. Nov 10, 2011
    Netflix gave this a recommended 4 stars out of 5 so I thought I would watch it. This is one of the worst movies I've ever seen. I have no idea how movie critics gave this pretty good reviews, while other great movies get **** ones. In case it didn't show up already, I've got some mild spoilers here. I've got two huge beefs with this movie, aside from everything else that is wrong with it. Firstly, half of the movie revolves around the main characters being shackled up and just walking around. About as exciting as it sounds. Secondly, the main theme behind the movie is to be unafraid in the face of danger and be courageous. This is all well and good, and the main character realizes this towards the end of the movie and is capable of doing some incredible things. That's great, and would work really well in most movies, but with the situations that the main character was already in, HE WOULD HAVE DIED ABOUT 100 times over earlier in the movie if he didn't have fear as a motivator. If he would've been courageous and stood his ground and fought, like the central theme implied, the movie would end 15 minutes in, 20 minutes in, take your pick. This really destroyed any point of the main theme coming together at the end for me. Aside from this, I was facepalming about once a minute during the last 30 minutes of the movie. Not to say that some of the stuff at that juncture of the movie wasn't well done, but there was so much wrong with it that I only kept watching to see how much more this movie would f*** up. I would not recommend this movie to anyone and have no idea how the hell it was ever justified to be made Expand
  12. Aug 13, 2012
    The film builds it's characters themes and setting until it finally breaks out into a gut wrenching thrill ride. Although many are saying this is just an action film and has nothing to say there is a surprising amount of depth in the themes.
  13. Dec 15, 2011
    I enjoyed it. Thought it was a decent film but it felt a little too dragged on and it made me lose interest in the film. While it was solid through out, It just wasnt great.
  14. Jan 6, 2012
    I thought that this movie, while not comparable to Braveheart, or the Passion, was good in its own way. Though bloody and violent, the plot line was a classic Mel Gibson. I watched an oppressed person rise above insane odds (much like in The Passion, and Braveheart). I loved the movie and thought that the native language used throughout only helped create a more realistic movie. This is another great win for Mel Gibson. Expand
  15. Jan 2, 2013
    Watching it with my family when it first came out and we all really enjoyed it. What I really liked about it was that it managed to keep you interested from start to finish. Just a solid movie overall imo.
  16. Mar 26, 2012
    First things first, the movie is a chase movie without any cheesy special effects, CGI, or flashy cars. It is the bare bones of survival, a man running for his life. The movie tackles messages about the price for being free and how much we cherish our lives and the lives of the ones we love. It also tells of how a great civilization, that is very smart and advanced can turn to such inhumane and animal like practices in times of great depression.

    The first thing I noticed while watching the movie is the cinematography, which is so beautiful. Giving us great shots of the forest and ancient cities. It is especially good in the chase sequences where I felt like I was the character and running for my life. Mel Gibson, one of my favorite directors, directs this movie so well. He has a knack for creating drama and very brutal scenes. My heart was constantly pounding even in slow scenes where nothing was happening. Iâ
  17. Aug 17, 2012
    This movie is probably one of the best movies in the decade, and probably the one of the most underrated ones. Surely deserved an Oscar for Direction. Mel Gibson should be looking forward to direct more movies with some good scripts. As far as this movie is concerned, you don't see a single moment which bores you as it is intense, deep and thoughtful. Language is no barrier and acting is superb considering relatively unknown cast. For me, this movie is always going to remain on top 10 all time favourite list. Expand
  18. Aug 5, 2013
    Apocalypto 8/10.......................................................................................................................................
  19. Jul 29, 2013
    Thanks to Gibson's self-evident understanding of cinematic scope and an utterly astounding level of detail in the costume and production design departments, "Apocalypto" breathes a richly believable breath of atmosphere into a civilization long gone and a story that's relatable to most.
  20. Jun 2, 2013
    Very good film by Mel Gibson. Good story, but even better action. I absolutely loved the fighting scenes and the chase scenes in particular. The last thirty minutes were so intense. A great movie despite the few historical inaccuracies. I really enjoyed it.
  21. Apr 28, 2013
    Great movie. Original, fast-paced and fiercely violent. When I first saw it at the cinema, it was a random choice as everything else looked toss. I left the cinema drained (in a good way) and I couldn't stop thinking about it for days afterwards. I now lend my dvd copy to everyone I can, and almost all agree.

Generally favorable reviews - based on 37 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 23 out of 37
  2. Negative: 2 out of 37
  1. 88
    Gibson has made a film of blunt provocation and bruising beauty.
  2. The guy knows how to make a heart-pounding movie; he just happens to be a cinematic sadist.
  3. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    Mel Gibson is always good for a surprise, and his latest is that Apocalypto is a remarkable film. Set in the waning days of the Mayan civilization, the picture provides a trip to a place one's never been before, offering hitherto unseen sights of exceptional vividness and power.