'Apocalypto' is Trademark Mel Gibson Gore Who knows what violence lurks in the hearts of men? Mel Gibson knows. And like he did in The Passion of the Christ, Gibson just can't resist putting every last ounce of it on screen in Apocalypto.
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'Apocalypto' is Trademark Mel Gibson Gore

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'Apocalypto' is Trademark Mel Gibson Gore

Review

Arts & Life

'Apocalypto' is Trademark Mel Gibson Gore

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DEBORAH AMOS, host:

Mel Gibson is one of the masters of violence on the big screen. Ever since "The Passion of the Christ" became a huge success, Hollywood has been wondering what he would do next. His new epic is "Apocalypto."

Los Angeles Times and MORNING EDITION film critic Kenneth Turan has this review.

KENNETH TURAN: Who knows what violence lurks in the hearts of men?

(Soundbite of movie "Apocalypto")

TURAN: Mel Gibson knows. And like "The Passion of the Christ," he just can't resist putting every last ounce of it on screen. He also can't resist pulling those bloody, still-beating hearts out of human bodies and putting them up on screen as well. And that's just the beginning.

Numerous good things can be said about "Apocalypto," the director's foray into the decaying Mayan civilization of the early 1500s. But every last one of them is overshadowed by Gibson's penchant for depictions of stupendous amounts of violence. Gibson has a genuine talent for taking us to another time and place. But in "Apocalypto," he has made a movie that can be recommended only to viewers who have a tolerance for repugnant savagery.

It was, likely, only a matter of time until Gibson found his way to a civilization that enthusiastically practiced human sacrifice, and to a story about a man who tries not to become a potential victim.

(Soundbite of movie "Apocalypto")

Unidentified Man (Actor): (As character) (Foreign language spoken)

TURAN: Gibson has taken great pains to make the look and feel of this vividly imagined world involving. He has insisted that all his actors speak their dialogue in the primary Mayan language of Yucatek. The director also employed a movement teacher to ensure that everybody's body language would be convincingly primitive.

Gibson intends this film as a Clarion call, warning modern man to watch his step or risk following the Maya into decline and near extinction. That's why he opens the story with a famous quote from historian Will Durant about the fall of Rome: A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within.

The reality of "Apocalypto" is that this film is, in fact, exhibit A of the rot from within, Gibson is worried about. If our society is in moral peril, the amount of stomach-turning violence we allow on screen, is by any sane measure, a major part of our decline.

Mel, no one in your entourage is going to tell you this, but you are not part of the solution; you are part of the problem - a big part.

AMOS: Kenneth Turan is a film critic for MORNING EDITION and The Los Angeles Times.

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