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(Review originally written at 11 September 2007)

The movie surprised me how adrenaline rushing it was. It's an intense fast movie, with powerful and brutally graphic moments in it.

I don't necessarily see this as a movie about the Mayans, I more see this is a movie with Mayans in it. There is a big difference. Movies about Mayans concentrate totally on the culture and also have a more educational value- and also way of story-telling. This movie just more tries to impress and entertaining, with also shedding some light on the Mayan culture, in a not too obvious or forced way. The movie felt accurate and detailed, without ever trying to impress too much with it all. The movie above all is about its characters, rather than their culture.

The movie is incredibly good and authentic looking. The costumes, the sets, the makeup, everything feels so real! Also the fine cinematography and the beautiful nature itself of course add to this. I also have to say that the sound was incredible! It was intense at moments and helped to keep your adrenaline going. No wonder that the movie was also nominated for best achievement in sound editing and best achievement in sound mixing, besides the nomination for best achievement in makeup.

The movie becomes intense and gory in parts. There is certainly no holding back in the action sequences! This movie is filled with more action than you would perhaps expect from a movie like this. When perhaps first viewing this movie you're expecting a culture drama, it however soon becomes obvious that the movie is (luckily) more intense and action filled than that, without loosing any of its meaning or power. The movie is still filled with some highly effective powerful sequences and images!

Every character is deliberately intense looking, with his/hers own distinctive look. It obviously also helps to keep all of the characters apart. Most of them are being played by non-actors which adds to its realism but at times also is a weak spot. It was obvious in this movie that some are simply not born to act. This especially also became obvious with Jonathan Brewer, though he still suits the role fine and it's sort of acceptable for a movie in a 'strange' language such as this one.

Even though the movie is an acceptable 139 minutes long, the movie often feels much longer. You can blame Mel Gibson's directing for that. During some sequences I thought; OK we got the point now, lets move on already! For instance this was the case when the entered the large Mayan city and during the execution sequence. Some moments just went on and on and even though they are powerful and impressive looking, you just started to loose interest. Mel Gibson already made the same mistake with "The Passion of the Christ" and I had hoped he learned from this. Mel Gibson is a great director now but he can really become a brilliant one of he learns from these and other small mistakes.

A great and intense, unique viewing experience!

8/10

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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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