Reviews provided by RottenTomatoes
Gibson may have ravaged his career, but he has also created an extraordinary world we've never seen and leaves us with a glimpse of the hard future to come.
Gibson has delivered an impeccably crafted action-adventure that starts fast and never lets up.
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.
New York Magazine/Vulture:
Apocalypto demonstrates two things: that Mel Gibson is a hell of a filmmaker and that his imaginative world borders on the Neanderthal.
J. R. Jones,
The production design is superb, and the actors deliver their dialogue in subtitled Yucatecan Maya, but despite all the anthropological drag, this is really just a crackerjack Saturday-afternoon serial.
Wall Street Journal:
By the end I felt sure it was the most obsessively, graphically violent film I'd ever seen, but equally sure that Apocalypto is a visionary work with its own wild integrity. And absolutely, positively convinced that seeing it once is enough.
San Francisco Chronicle:
By now, it's fair to say that Mel Gibson does not make boring movies. He does, however, make movies that make you a little worried about him.
...beautifully rendered and convincingly exciting.
Although it's a pretty good bet that much of the audience won't be beguiled by Gibson's end-of-the-world metaphors, no one can deny he made an entertaining movie.
Mel Gibson may be a lunatic, but he's our lunatic, and while I wouldn't wish him behind the wheel of a car after happy hour or at a B'nai Brith function anytime, behind a camera is another matter.
Los Angeles Times:
Mel, no one in your entourage is going to tell you this, but you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem. A big part.
It is Mel Gibson's latest proof that as a director, his ambition is boundless and his energy nearly so, but his judgment is sorely lacking.
As a piece of filmmaking it's certainly strong enough to restore his commercial viability. Whether that's to the good is another question entirely.
Christian Science Monitor:
Gibson is never content to show us just one or two decapitated heads bouncing down the steps of a temple when he can show us eight or nine.
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.
Never let it be said that Gibson the director (he also co-wrote the script with former assistant Farhad Safinia) doesn't know how to pace and build action like a pro.
Detroit Free Press:
Say what you want about Mel Gibson -- and people are likely to be saying whatever forever -- he is one hell of a filmmaker.
Dallas Morning News:
For all the film's beauty and mythic grandeur, it's the fetishistic fascination with gore that stays in your head and distracts from almost everything else the movie tries to do.
While there has been no shortage of recent films that decry the horrors of war and man's inhumanity to his fellow man, I know of none other quite this sickeningly powerful.
Any claims of cinematic prowess or social-political consequence, however, are obliterated by the pornographic relish Gibson seems to take in wowing us with his inventory of tortures and outrages.
The harder Apocalypto works to shock and excite you, the less shocked and excited you become, until you may find yourself beset by the urge to giggle.
The movie doesn't leave you pondering the mysteries of a lost civilization. It leaves you pondering the psychopathology of the director.
New York Observer:
Blood pours from every orifice in what looks like a terrible waste of Smucker's raspberry sauce.
Mel Gibson's Apocalypto passes the only movie test that's important. It's the 'I'd pay to see that' test.
It's unlike any other movie to reach theaters this year and, because it is as visual an experience as it is visceral, it is best seen on a large screen.
None of us can completely resist the spectacle of a disturbed guy -- who used to just be a movie star -- projecting his own violent fantasies in public and repeatedly enacting his own crucifixion. Let's not pretend there's anything healthy about it.
Praising the movie's craftsmanship seems less urgent than communicating the overwhelming experience of watching it: the clammy, claustrophobic dread of being trapped in a torture chamber.
Filming in the state of Veracruz and on the Yucatan Peninsula, Gibson and his production team transport viewers six centuries back in time to create an amazing 'you are there' effect.
Globe and Mail:
Apocalypto is a lotta woe to sit through, with not much to think about and only one matter to address.
If, as a filmmaker, the obviously soul-stricken former movie star is an unabashed red-meat primitivist, he's also become an undeniably polished one.
Gibson is a primitive all right, but so were Cecil B. DeMille and D.W. Griffith, and somehow we survived their idiocies. Doubtless there will come a day when he joins them in the Valhalla of the vacuous.
This is by no means a boring film, then, but it is a grotesque one, and that brings it pretty close to camp.
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.
Mel Gibson is always good for a surprise, and his latest is that Apocalypto is a remarkable film.
Apocalypto is unburdened by nationalist or religious piety -- it's pure, amoral sensationalism.