So, after having it recommended by two guides (both Mayan) while touring the Yucatán in June, I *finally* watched Apocalypto. (I guess I'd avoided it because Mel Gibson is kind of a douchebag, although I did enjoy sneaking into his pool when I was living in Dominical, Costa Rica.) And, all the negative reviewers are correct - the plot is simple as corn and beans, the plot holes are bigger than the Gran Cenote, about 2/3 of the movie is a chase scene (I don't really consider this a negative, but maybe you do), and the violence is gratuitous. I mean, it's not just a jaguar eating some guy's face offscreen, you get to see every gruesome bite, with chunks of bone and teeth showing and so forth. Come on. The bit where blood is spraying out of another guy's head wound, with his heart beat, reminded me of the Black Knight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
It was a fucking cool movie! I've been reading a lot of pre-Columbian history lately, so it's fresh. Since the Mayan empire collapsed about a century before the Spanish arrived (the Mayans still had their cities, towns, culture, and language, just the federal government stopped working), and they had been dealing with smallpox et al for a decade by the time the Spanish made first contact (a 30% to 60% loss in population over ten years, which fucked up their society even more), plus the Spanish burned all their books, a lot of this stuff is theoretical. And Gibson, unsurprisingly, took the goriest version of events and splattered it all over the big screen.
So, keeping in mind that there's a kinder and gentler version of Mayan history that has some evidence backing it up too, if you subscribe to Gibson's choice of interpretations, oh my Tlaloc, the attention to detail is perfect. The clothing - spot fucking on. The way the different classes dressed and acted - spot fucking on. The way the cities looked before the jungles took them and clueless Ivy League rich kids rebuilt them for tourists - spot fucking on. The religious bullshit - perfect. The scene where the captives enter the city (Uxmal?) is goddamned flawless and amazing and worth the price of a rental imho. Basically, Apocalypto is an incredibly detailed history lesson built around a long-ass chase scene.
ANYWAY. If you get a chance, check it out. It's in Mayan - the whole movie - with subtitles, so it's not for everyone. I thought that was super cool. And the acting is really good, at least for the main players! Like, total Hollywood quality, if you don't mind overwrought villains - Gibson's a solid, experienced, A++ actor, despite the whole anti-semitism thing, and I guess he knows how to pull really ace performances from people who have probably never been in a big budget, action-adventure film. The budget must have been outrageous - there is very little CGI compared to similar flicks. Recommended.
"4 cylinder Camaro=communism" El Presidente
"You can smoke salmon but it's not quite the same as smoking heroin." nanuq