Gibson's interest in human cruelty and human suffering does not make him unique among filmmakers. His preferred mixture of piety and viciousness, however, makes him uniquely suited to our post-Cecil B. DeMille age of cinematic mythmaking.
... Gibson's directorial efforts have been fairly blood-soaked historical exercises -- and Apocalyto isn't just more of the same, it's entirely too much of the same. ... Apocalypto is a career-ending flop, and easily the worst movie of 2006.
It's Gibson's taste for carnage that defeats him in the end. The brutality is relentless, and the many ways in which blood is spilt so ingenious, that it's numbing. Once the adrenaline rush subsides, there's nothing left.
Perhaps Gibson is trying to shock us into absorbing the torment and severity of man's inhumanity to man. The tragedy is that the film has the opposite effect: As we are bombarded by savagery, we become inured to it.
You have to really look for it, to see the political commentary in Mel's make-up extravaganza, which can be spotted not so much in the snoozy National Geographic-ky first half, as in the second half's retracking of Rambo's bushes. But it's there if you wa