December 05, 2006

Long odds for Apocalypto

Oscar signs of the 'Apocalypto'[T]the main Oscar obstacle for "Apocalypto" is that although it feels "new" in the way it presents tribal Mayans speaking in their ancient dialect and living in their jungle villages, it’s still primarily a bloody, sadism-driven action film packed with beheadings, heart-yankings, impalings and an extended chase sequence that dominates the movie’s latter half. There’s also a "Perils of Pauline"-level side plot that’s as old as the silents.

Does this sound remotely like the kind of movie embraced by Oscar voters in Hollywood’s annual exercise in self-congratulation? "Gladiator" and Gibson’s own "Braveheart" might offer the closest comparisons, but those movies fit far more snugly into the Hollywood epic mold, heavier on the interpersonal drama and sweeping statements and much, much lighter on the barbarism, the prism through which Gibson almost exclusively views ancient Mayan culture.

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