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Sunday May 27, 2007 11:00 pm

Apocalypto DVD Review

Apocalypto PosterMel Gibson’s epic film about the decline of the Mayan civilization in 16th century South America was released on DVD last week.  The story begins when a small but productive Mayan village comes under attack by a local tribe desperate to save itself from ecological demise by appeasing the gods with human sacrifice.  While the movie displays the unique architecture, weaponry, and overall culture of these indigenous peoples, it also narrows to focus on the remarkable story of a brave warrior, captured and tortured but determined to return to his village and family.

Apocalypto is co-written and directed by Mel Gibson, co-written by Farhad Safinia, and stars Rudy Youngblood and Dalia Hernández.  Rated R

The film was generally received well by critics but has been disputed by anthropologists and archaeologists who claim it’s filled with historical inaccuracy; many believe it also depicts the Mayan people negatively as much more violent a civilization than is historically evident.  Gibson and Safinia, however, claim to have studied Maya extensively before making the film.  All controversy aside, the film is nothing short of amazing, placing you in inconceivable peril and holding you there until you feel you’ve become a part of it.  Be sure to check out FilmCrunch’s Apocalypto Video Review.

The DVD features don’t really support a film of such magnitude:

  • Subtitles in English (both standard and for the hearing impaired), Spanish, and French
  • Commentary by Mel Gibson and Farhad Safinia
  • Becoming Mayan: Creating Apocalypto
  • Deleted Scene

Most of the features are fairly standard, though the single deleted scene, which is completely unnecessary on this release, is embarrassingly trivial and feels like a thoughtless tack-on.  The commentary is relatively illuminating and, even if you’ve grown to despise him, Gibson succeeds at keeping it informative and fun.  The real draw, however, is the behind-the-scenes featurette.  Clocking in at 25 minutes, this mini-documentary chronicles the creation of the film from concept to creation, including make-up, costumes, weapons, and locations.  While the segment satisfied most of my curiosity, there were some elements that would’ve given me a bit more to appreciate – maybe some concept art, design and construction of the Mayan temples, cast interviews/screentests, special effects, etc.  Overall, the DVD release of Apocalypto is a standard but solid one that will leave some perfectly satisfied and others wanting more.  Let’s hope there’s a special edition on the horizon.

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