However impressive their achievements may have been, the Mayans, as depicted here, were a monstrously cruel and bloodthirsty lot--so perverse that they were driven to self-destruct. But not before they managed to slaughter hordes of innocent peasants.

CAST: Rudy Youngblood, Dalia Hernandez, Mayra Serbulo, Gerardo Taracena, Raoul Trujillo

DIRECTOR: Mel Gibson

SCREENWRITERS: Mel Gibson and Farhad Safinia


“Let no one deny that Mel Gibson is a true auteur, an artist whose films are deeply personal, intransigently independent of movie-industry fashion and possessed of a singular vision...Once again he returns to his favorite theme: nearly naked men being tortured. Repeatedly. Imaginatively. At great length...Dramatically, however, the relentless pileup of atrocities becomes self-defeating. At a certain point—was it the spear that went from the back of a running man's head through his mouth? The jaguar tearing another man's face to shreds? The snakes? The hornets? The hundreds of rotting corpses in the ravine?—you become inured. 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.” --DAVID ANSEN, Newsweek

“Viewers who share this director’s apparently limitless appetite for gore will not be disappointed...There are plenty of disembowelings, impalings, clubbings and beheadings. Hearts are torn, still beating, from slashed-open chests. A man’s face is chewed off by a jaguar. Another’s neck is pierced by darts tipped with frog venom. Most disturbing, perhaps, is the sight of hundreds of corpses haphazardly layered in an open pit: a provocative and ill-advised excursion into Holocaust imagery on this director’s part...The brutality in ‘Apocalypto’ is so relentless and extreme that it sometimes moves beyond horror into a kind of grotesque comedy, but to dismiss it as excessive or gratuitous would be to underestimate Mr. Gibson’s seriousness. And say what you will about him — about his problem with booze or his problem with Jews — he is a serious filmmaker.”--A. O. SCOTT, The New York Times

“Gibson takes no pleasure in the bloodletting, nor does he expect us to. Rather, like ‘The Passion of the Christ,’ ‘Apocalypto’ strives to make us recoil from the screen, to feel in our gut the impact of each flesh-piercing spear and skull-splitting rock — in short, to reorient us to the brutality that so many movies (including some of the ones that helped to make Gibson a star in the first place) offer up for our titillation...for all its intentional unpleasantness, ‘Apocalypto’ is a hypnotic experience; you can’t take your eyes off it...Gibson is so adept a visual storyteller that you get caught up in the blunt force of the images...the movie is a virtuosic piece of action cinema ...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.” --SCOTT FOUNDAS, LA Weekly

“Apocalypto” is a pathological work of art. It is neither gratuitous nor casual; Gibson is not trying out an idea or testing a visual manner...he has learned how to tell a tale, and to raise a pulse in the telling. You have to admire that basic gift, uncommon as it is in Hollywood these days, though equally you have to ask what obsessions goad it on...I don’t believe Gibson is roused by violence in itself. What lures him, in his dark remoldings of Catholic iconography, is breakage and restoration—the deeper and more foul the wounds, the more pressing the need to see them healed.” --ANTHONY LANE, The New Yorker

“Gibson's fascination with the Mayans seems to spring entirely from the fact (or fantasy) that they were exotic badasses who knew how to whomp the hell out of one another, old-school. You don't leave Apocalypto thinking of the decline of civilizations or the power of myth or anything much except, wow, that is one sick son of a bitch.” --DANA STEVENS, Slate

“Despite a genuine talent for taking us to another time and place, a gift that under other circumstances would be worth experiencing, Gibson has made a movie that can be confidently recommended only to viewers who have a concentration camp commandant's tolerance for repugnant savagery. Mountains of hacked up corpses, exit wounds spewing fountains of blood, spears shattering teeth, warriors literally beating each other's brains out, it's all here in living and dying color.” --KENNETH TURAN, Los Angeles Times

“Gibson's preoccupation with torture, rage, psychosis, faith, male bonding, (fear of) homosexuality, sin, redemption, sadomasochism, and, for that matter, the fate of the rain forest — it's all here, in a movie for which Hieronymus Bosch might have drawn the storyboards...Mel Gibson has made the weirdest, most violent movie of the year.” --LISA SCHWARZBAUM, Entertainment Weekly

“Apocalypto brings out what's unique and gripping in Gibson as a director. It's pure adrenaline -- a tremendously exciting chase'd better not be gore-shy, because Apocalypto is one brutal and bloody ride...The movie flies by fast enough to cause whiplash...This being Gibson, there's more to the film than the rush. It's impossible not to see parallels to our own cultured civilization, one that knowingly destroys its environment and sends troops to Iraq as human sacrifices. Gibson has made a film of blunt provocation and bruising beauty--he's a filmmaker right down to his nerve endings.” --PETER TRAVERS, Rolling Stone

“In the first scene of Mel Gibson’s boring, affected, expensive, gruesomely violent and historically inaccurate curio ‘Apocalypto,’ a humongous tapir (like a wild boar) charges from the jungle and attacks a peaceful tribe of hunters, who slaughter the animal and eat its testicles. For the next 130 minutes, they search for a better meal. Wouldn’t you? And while you’re at it, you might search for a better movie.” --REX REED, New York Observer

“Although it's told in a Mayan dialect, with English subtitles, the movie is just an arthouse film for jocks...Gibson is no rank amateur; he has a wily actor's instinct for what's theatrically effective. He and his cinematographer, Dean Semler, know where to put the camera for maximum shock impact, for whoosh and for oomph. But even those who succumb to his primitive, survivalist vision may resent the way he presents every kind of atrocity at least twice without illuminating any of the exotic details once...Not only do the victims witness the removal of their beating hearts while they still draw breath; to add injury to injury, they are then decapitated.” --MICHAEL SRAGOW, Baltimore Sun

“Mel Gibson is always good for a surprise, and his latest is that ‘Apocalypto’ is a remarkable film. Set in the waning days of the Mayan civilization, the picture provides a trip to a place one's never been before, offering hitherto unseen sights of exceptional vividness and power...‘Apocalypto’ is exotic, wild, ferocious, teeming with startling incident and brutal violence...The long central section is simply great epic cinema, with generous dollops of chilling horror and grisly human sacrifice.” --TODD McCARTHY, Variety

“No description of ‘Apocalypto’ can even begin, much less be complete, without noting that it seems like something made by a crazy person. It's unrelenting, a succession of blood-soaked disaster, an artfully designed parade of cruelty that would make the Marquis de Sade get up and say, ‘Enough already.’... To see ‘Apocalypto’ is to come away feeling as though you really have watched, for example, an ancient decapitation rite, with each head rolling down an immense staircase toward a cheering, bloodthirsty throng. Whether you actually want to see this is up to you, but you've never seen anything like it before and almost certainly never will again.” --MICK LaSALLE, San Francisco Chronicle

“The tooth and claw dramaturgy initially is gripping but soon becomes wearisome, and the violence is excruciatingly graphic. 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. The actors speak Mayan, or something, and the film is subtitled. It's difficult to imagine the target audience for this film. Gangbangers, perhaps?” --PETER RAINER, The Christian Science Monitor

“Gibson may not be much of a deep thinker, but he's a heck of a storyteller. ‘Apocalypto’ turns out to be not a case of Montezuma's revenge but of Gibson's: It's something entirely unexpected, a sinewy, taut poem of action.” --STEPHEN HUNTER, The Washington Post

“How can Gibson disgust us? Let us count the ways: There's a face chewed off by a panther, a spear impaling a man's skull, a chest ripped open by a blunt arrowhead and a head spurting blood as if a spigot has been turned on. Then there are the hundreds of rotting corpses that fill the screen for a few harrowing minutes.You cannot deny that Gibson is inventive in depicting torture. But watching it is excruciating...The blood and guts obscure whatever power the story could have had.” -- CLAUDIA PUIG, USA Today