“Apocalypto” – Nathan’s Movie Challenge, Week 5
“This is my forest. And I am not afraid.”
I am always impressed by a movie that goes all-in. Apocalypto is certainly one of them – committing to a completely subtitled, unknown cast committing acts of brutal violence, wearing elaborate costuming, and running – a lot. Lots and lots of running. I’m tired just thinking about how much they’re running in this film.
It never ceases to surprise me that there are these completely unheard of actors out there that not only look the part, but can act circles around many of their famous Hollywood peers. The casting director deserves quite a nod (Hi, Carla Hool!) to pick such a cast that completely embodies the archetypes they represent.
I thoroughly enjoyed the story and never once felt the film’s length. It’s a hero’s tale – through and through – and keeps your interest from start to finish. There are many splendidly shot sequences – and the action, in particular, is very well executed.
It’s hard to know just how much to credit Mel Gibson for how successful a film it its, but if his direction is what coaxed such great performances out of the many actors on display, he certainly deserves accolades for the work. The film is a serious accomplishment for all involved.
I’m very glad I finally got to see this one. It sits well alongside films like City of God that are able to capture a completely non-American way of life, and make it both viscerally realistic and cinematically entertaining simultaneously.
Apocalypto was at the time of this review at #1700 on my Flickchart list of shame (ranked #2429 among the best movies of all time). Here’s how it entered my chart:
Apocalypto vs. Romancing The Stone
Where Romancing the Stone is an Indy rip-off, Apocalypto is not ripping off much of anything. Easy choice here.
Apocalypto vs. Closer
The performances are very good in Closer, but I’m overall more impressed by the many great performances in Apocalypto.
Apocalypto vs. Rain Man
This is definitely a harder choice, but again – the sheer scope of what Apocalypto pulls off is terribly impressive. As good as Cruise and Hoffman are, I’m gonna have to give the nod to everyone involved in Apocalypto.
Apocalypto vs. Looper
Looper is on another cinematic plane for me. Apocalypto can rest easy knowing it lost to a greater film.
Apocalypto vs. The Avengers
I have to choose The Avengers here perhaps not because it’s more enjoyable than Apocalypto, but because it pulled off what most everyone expected to be near impossible – containing and mixing so many huge characters and personalities into a single script and still coming out with a success. It’s all Whedon.
Apocalypto vs. The Blair Witch Project
A tough one for me. Many people miss the point of how incredible Blair Witch is, and it essentially created a genre. That being said, Apocalypto does with its talent a lot more than what Blair Witch does with its talent.
Apocalypto vs. Collateral
Collateral might be gaining some recency boost in my mind since it was so recently seen, but Foxx and Cruise are just on fire in that film. The script is tightly wound, the action and dialogue are cleverly performed, and the soundtrack stands out in a good way. I’m going to give this match to Collateral.
Apocalypto vs. The Incredibles
Pixar’s hard to beat, and Brad Bird’s The Incredibles – even harder. A fantastic story, timeless art style, and a remarkable amount of emotional weight carries The Incredibles over Apocalypto.
Apocalypto vs. Monsters Inc.
Another example of Pixar’s brilliance is the voice casting of Billy Crystal and John Goodman as Jake and Sully in Monsters Inc. It’s also a perfect example of introducing some real stakes in its characters’ journey – something both Monsters Inc. and Apocalypto do very well. I could go either way on this one, but I’m going to let Monsters Inc. retain the victory.
Apocalypto vs. Honey, I Shrunk the Kids
This is pure nostalgia winning over a film I just saw. One represents my childhood, one represents a historical epic. Childhood memories are a powerhouse decision maker for me. Honey, I Shrunk the Kids will win.
Apocalypto vs. Wedding Crashers
I’m notoriously wishy-washy on comedies, but Wedding Crashers is one that I really laughed a lot with and enjoyed a lot more than most of Vince Vaughn’s outings. It’s less about Vaughn and Owen Wilson and more the ensemble cast and quick-witted script that makes it a great comedy. At the end of the day, though, the grand epic that is Apocalypto is going to get my vote over a comedy. It would have to be an incredible comedy to surpass what I’ve just seen.
Apocalypto did very, very well, and now sits at #147 out of 1362 movies on my Best Movies of All-Time chart.
Last one for this week is There Will Be Blood. Be sure to take a look at the other movies I’ve been ranking in the challenge.