So far, APOCALYPTO is the best by far and may be the best movie I have seen all year. It is a very small, very simple story about one man's dedication to his family. To be sure, it is violent, and graphically so. There were a couple of moments when I turned my face so I didn't see the carnage. But the repeated violence isn't simply thrown in for effect; It is a part of the movie as much so as any movie since PULP FICTION. It left me thinking about the complex themes and messages in the movie all day long.
Of course, the movie hasn't gotten the awards recognition it should (just as THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST did not) because many in Hollywood don't like Gibson's conservative and religious politics. They'll decorate a rapist and a child molestor who fled the United States to lowly France, which refuses to extradict him (Roman Polanski), but they won't give deserving credit to Gibson. When conservatives complain about liberal themes in Hollywood movies, they are always told that they should simply judge it as art; But when a vocal conservative like Gibson makes an incredible movie, they shun him. Such a shameful double standard.
Many reviews reflected this. While movie reviewers are supposed to stick what's on the screen, many of them dove into Gibson's personal reviews, like this amateur review from the Denver Post: "APOCALYPTO wants us to believe there is an overpowering darkness in the land, while I can't quite get past a suspicion of overpowering darkness in the filmmaker." I don't remember reading reviews of THE PIANIST that talked about Polanski's sexual misconduct. Of course, if you're liberal, you can be excused for things like molesting children.
To be sure, Gibson's indefensible anti-Semitic rant to a police officer did not help his case. But, again, we're told by Hollywood that we should judge artists for their art, not their actions; And that we should judge films for their quality, not for what the filmmakers snort up their nose or with whom they have sex.
Awards or no awards, APOCALYPTO is an incredible acheivement, and Mel Gibson has strengthened his position as one of the great filmmakers of our time.
FINAL ANALYSIS: Brilliant direction and performances, beautiful art direction and a haunting script. If this was made by almost any other director, it would be hailed as a cinematic acheivement. 10 out 10.