Saturday morning was hectic. Normally, when I am not working on Saturday, we rise late, eat leisurely, and leave the house around noon for assorted errands. But today the Grouchmate and Kidgrouch had committed to participating in a Ladies Christmas Ornament exchange at church, Kidgrouch to babysit and Grouchmate to host a table. Because of that we had to rise at 8AM, prepare a pasta salad, pick up relatives and be there by 10:45. One problem...Grouchmate forgot to purchase all of the ingredients for her pasta salad, so I obediently said "Why, I'LL go buy them sweetheart". And I did.
But upon returning I stepped into a typical argument between the two ladies of the house and neither of them had even begun to get ready. Seeing the writing splattered on the wall, I volunteered to prepare the pasta salad while the girls elbowed each other in front of the mirror and exchanged catty insults. By the time all was prepared, and they were out the door, I was really in need of some kind of cathartic entertainment, you know, blood and guts, aliens, war, THAT sort of entertainment.
Suddenly I was struck with an idea...Why not catch the early showing of Mel Gibson's Apocalypto! I was fairly interested in the concept of the film, a Mayan centered story involving kidnapping, rapine and general slaughter, followed by a boffo chase scene involving impossible feats of athletic prowess and macho posturing. WOW! And to top it off NO English at all, just the (in theory) Mayan dialect throughout, with subtitles. Nothing's like the guttural sounds of Mayan curses while heads are collapsed and hearts are removed from chests while still beating. I couldn't get there fast enough!
I got to the theater just in time for the previews and a sneak peek at a film that is now high on my list of "Films To See This Spring"..."Wild Hogs", starring John Revolta, Tim Allen, Martin Lawrence and William H. Macy, as middle aged guys who decide to take a bike trip on their new Harleys cross country. Now, being one of those middle aged guys, this concept tickled my funny bone so I'll be sure to catch it this spring. But back to Apocalypto...
One compliment I DO have to offer is that the cinematography was quite good and, having myself actually seen the rain forests in Mexico and Central America, I was quite impressed with the way it was displayed onscreen.
Another plus is the two actors who played Jaguar Paw and his wife, Seven, played respectively by Rudy Youngblood and Dalia Hernandez. Both are attractive, clear complected with great white smiles AND have acting talent. Joining the ensemble is Blunted, Jaguar Paw's buddy, played by Johnathan Brewer and his onscreen mother-in-law played by Maria Isabel Diaz, a married man's worst nightmare.
One obvious way that I was able to tell the good guys from the bad guys was their teeth. Good guys, it seems, brush and floss daily while the bad guys must chew tobacco. Also, the good guys really smile whereas the bad guys frown or leer. But enough sarcasm for now...
The tribe of forest dwelling good guys are attacked by the big city bad guys, captured and marched back to the city to be sacrificed by the high priest on top of a pyramid in order to turn back the wrath of their god who, apparently, has afflicted their crops with a blight and the people with a pox. Along the way an orphaned child predicts that the bad guys doom was sealed and that their world would soon come to an end, hastened by one who was already among them. Yeah, RIIIIIGHT!
Jaguar Paw, whose pregnant wife and child were trapped in a pit while trying to escape capture, himself escapes being sacrificed, only to be included in a murderous game of dodge ball with his captors except it is only his captors who throw at him...spears, arrows, rocks, NOT rubber balls!
It is at this point that Jaguar Paw eludes his captors and is chased, with murderous intent, by at least 10 really angry big city bad guys with bad teeth.
While Jaguar Paw is running, his wife and child are being threatened by a new foe...rain! Anyone who has visited southern Mexico in the summer can tell you that when it rains it really rains. As the water slowly begins to fill the pit Seven goes into labor. How could it get any worse? She valiantly raises her little son above the water while she goes through contractions and hope begins to dim. How does she survive? I won't tell...you'll have to see the movie for yourself!
And what about Jaguar Paw? Does he escape and dispatch his pursuers, and if so, in what manner? I won't ruin it for you on this count either.
The ending of the movie, however satisfying, will leave you with a slightly uneasy feeling that the Mayans in general are in for a very bad time, and that despite their own savagery a far greater one will soon be afoot. Is that enough of a hint?
The overall impression that the movie left with me was the same one that has been growing in me for quite some time: Man is just a violent species, one that inflicts violence on its own for no reason other than self interest, and that there is no hope of salvation in him if left to himself. For those who have no hope in a greater power then that is depressing news indeed, but to those of us who embrace the Christ of the bible then hope is at hand.
As far as the movie is concerned, is it as bad as some critics say? No, it is not! But is it a good movie or will it be forgotten? Personally, I enjoyed it, and I think mostly young people will find it appealing, but who will go to see it? I'm afraid that it will flop due to lack of ticket sales and will be categorized as Mel's Folly. Too bad, for it has it's place, and maybe that place will be found on DVD.