When I first heard about this project, and later when I saw the early trailers, I halfway hoped that Mr. Gibson might turn out to be an American (or half-Australian) version of Werner Herzog, setting out into the jungle to explore the dark and tangled regions of human nature. Once you get past the costumes and the subtitles, though, the most striking thing about “Apocalypto” is how comfortably it sits within the conventions of mainstream moviemaking. It is not an obsessive opera like Mr. Herzog’s “Aguirre: The Wrath of God,” but rather a pop period epic in the manner of “Gladiator” or “Braveheart,” and as such less interested in historical or cultural authenticity than in imposing an accessible scheme on a faraway time and place."Aguirre: The Wrath of God" is on my very short list of favorite movies. (See my profile.) That "Aguirre" even gets mentioned in the review makes me more likely to partake of the new Mel-o-drama, even if the mention is only to say it's not quite like it.
December 8, 2006
From the NYT review of Mel Gibson's "Apocalypto":