Why Is This Mel Smiling?


Because the reviews of his new Mayan action flick, Apocalypto, are pretty damn good. Culled from's roundup of reactions are blurbs such as: "an absorbing drama," "… astonishing, id-soaked …,", "… a first-rate epic …," " …surprises us right from the start …," "… quite thrilling," "… pure adrenaline …," and "… a remarkable film."

And there's this from's house critic:

Is it not enough that Mel Gibson keeps us all entertained with his religious nutjobbery, his drunk driving, his leering mug shot, his anti-Semitic remarks, his arrest resisting and his whip-smart ability to think up — while completely drunk — crazy new misogynist endearments? Hasn't he entertained us all enough? The answer is no, he hasn't. He's only getting started. Because this movie is a totally entertaining and pointless blast of the grossest, nuttiest stuff I've seen in a big Hollywood movie all year — the Jackass of ancient Mayan stunts. Thank you, Mel Gibson. You won't be getting any Oscars, but you helped me to laugh at life again.

More here.

Whatever else you can say about Mad Mel (and there's plenty), if Apocalypto does good box office, he'll be about the only director ever to score back to back hits with films in really foreign–even dead–languages.

NEXT: Beat Me, Whip Me, Make Me Honest!

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  1. Whatever you want to say about Mel or his films, I’ve always thought it was beyond badass how he does these films in their original, ancient, ultra-foreign languages. It’s always bugged me to see films based in other lands where the characters all speak English on screen, albeit with their accents… but still. If they wouldn’t be speaking English in real life they shouldn’t be speaking it onscreen. Of course, they’ve got to appeal to the illiterate, philistine masses to make money. I guess most people plain don’t like subtitles.

  2. “entertaining and pointless”

    Thank you for revealing your own shallowness, “house critic.” Go back to your Jackass.

    I have not seen, and have no interest in seeing, Passion. However, I was hooked on Apocalypto from the moment I first saw the initial teaser.

    “It only stands to reason that where there’s sacrifice, there’s someone collecting the sacrificial offerings.”
    – That Woman

  3. “If they wouldn’t be speaking English in real life they shouldn’t be speaking it onscreen.”

    Right, because the movies never have stuff that differs from “real life”.

    What the fuck kind of selective-historically-accurate tripe is that, andy? It’s a movie. A tale. A piece of fiction. Not necessarily a literal representation of reality.

    In “real life”, there isn’t a “super” man from a distant planet who wears tights and can fly…so, should that mean that there can’t be one in the movies either?

  4. Mel may be batshit crazy, but his movies generally kick ass. He knows how to get the testosterone flowing. He’s the closest thing to Pekinpah working today. I don’t have to agree with his politics to admire his story telling skill and fuck you if you don’t like it attitude.

  5. I agree Matt. Really, The Passion was in many ways a kick ass horror movie in the same genre as The Exorcist. Honestly, has there ever been a cooler, more chilling portrayal of the devil on film than some of the scenes in that film? The guy is crazy, but so are a lot of artists and he can make a film.

  6. Although the movie makes the liberterian side of me boil, if you guys really want to see a CRAZY Mel Gibson, go and watch Who Killed the Electric Car? He has that crazy-ass long beard and behaves like a homeless man.

    It makes for at least a rental at Blockbuster,

  7. I agree with Matt and John. This is a variation of the Wagner problem — just how repellent does an artist have to be for their repulsiveness to tarnish their art? (I love Wagner’s music. Also most Woody Allen movies and the novels of a number of people I wouldn’t speak to on the street.) If Mel Gibson were running for office or even bankrolling someone else, then a detailed examination of his political delusions would matter. He isn’t. He makes really good movies. My husband and I still cherish the memory of one Christmas when every single member of our families had the flu, the heater was broken, he’d been laid off and I had a boss that would have made a really good Mel Gibson movie villain. We celebrated by renting that great Mel Christmas movie, Lethal Weapon.

    Now, I didn’t see The Passion, because I’m just not that interested in violence. I might see this one, however, because it is so very, very strange.

  8. i haven’t seen the passion but i’ve been a gibson sceptic for years. stuff like payback, ransom; plenty of testosterone, but if you want manly movies you can still do better (hmm, point blank anyone?). other than a couple old peter weir movies and the road warrior, I can’t think of a single thing he’s touched that I like… I guess braveheart is okay, but for me larry of arabia has more testosterone (if less blood) and is a better movie. That said, this new one sounds crazy so I might check it out, but i’m not sure whether to expect inchon crazy or aguirre crazy (given his track record i’m leaning toward inchon).

  9. mel gibson was a boring movie star but ya gotta admit he’s been more entertaining the last few years. if he just keeps doing nutty movies that shouldn’t make money but do i may like him in a weird way. the peckinpah analogy a previous poster mentioned is offensive though as i am a huge peckinpah fan and mel gibson will never come close. i may see his new movie though but i’ll probably go see the bond film this weekend instead cause i wanna see it before it leaves theatres.

  10. I’m pretty eager to see Apocalypto, and I had no interest in The Passion whatsoever. BTW, I believe that Mayan is still a living language, albeit only in rather remote parts of southern Mexico.

  11. Yucatec Mayan is not a dead language by any definition – it is spoken by over 1 million people today. It is far more alive than Welsh or Navajo and can probably give Latvian a run for its money. But, having the natives speak Yucatec Mayan is not realistic at all, their ancestors in 1000 AD would have spoken Classic Mayan, which is now dead. What Gibson has done is sort of like filming a costume drama set in 2nd century Rome and having everyone speak Italian for verisimilitude. But full props to Mel for having the balls to do it.

  12. i kinda respect the passion’s success even though i don’t really like a lot of it’s audience. which is what i mean by film that shouldn’t make money that does in my previous post. studioheads to pitch films like passion or apocolypto to their bosses. i don’t think this film will do soooo well cause general middle american audiences don’t like subtitles (or widescreen..seriously). they put up with the subtitles for the passion cause it was about jesus and the hype around the film but this story doesn’t have the same broad appeal. i could be wrong though.

  13. Mel Gibson’s movies are successful because he’s engaging topics that don’t show up on the Left Coast radar screens for audiences Hollywood couldn’t find with a dragnet. And he’s pissing the left people off doing it, for example the boys shooting rifles and the preacher in the militia in The Patriot.

    Really, when was the last Mayan movie?

    It’s always bugged me to see films based in other lands where the characters all speak English on screen, albeit with their accents… but still. If they wouldn’t be speaking English in real life they shouldn’t be speaking it onscreen.

    Do we need to rewrite half our novels as well? Should live theater have subtitles? Should operas normally presented in Italian be rewritten in their character’s original languages? I’m visualizing Shakespeare doing Latin and Egyptian in iambic pentameter.

    Of course, they’ve got to appeal to the illiterate, philistine masses to make money.

    Right. Art should only be appreciated by the elite intellectuals.

    I guess most people plain don’t like subtitles.

    I certainly don’t. I’d much rather watch the pictures and hear the words, rather than have to split my time between watching both, and missing bits here and there in each. Besides, you can’t do inflection and emphasis in subtitles. You lose most of any language’s subtleties.

  14. lots of great films with subtitles can be enjoyed. if the films good, it shoudln’t be a bother.

  15. De mortuis nil nisi bonum.

  16. aguirre crazy

    Holy shit. I had totally forgotten about Aquirre: The Wrath Of God That movie was great. I’ll have to pick that up at the local indie-film rental store.

    Gibson’s films have been really cinematically stunning. They need to be, of course, as the plotlines are totally formulaic. Still, I’ll see it. It looks awesome.

  17. t.j.

    I meant he’s the closest thing to Pekinpah working today. I would never argue that Mel is his equal. But, Mel’s love of in your face violence and his this is my god damn movie approach certainly put him in the same category.

  18. Hey, no bagging on Latvia allowed!

    Well over 1 million speak Latvian in Latvia, not to mention all the ex-pats in Ohio, PA, and Ontario.

    All bow to Latvian supremacy.

  19. latvia. don’t you guys worship dr. doom or something?


  20. aguire is a masterpiece.

  21. dave-a,

    No, but you know that yellow stuff that the mosquitoes got trapped in allowing a theme park of lab-created dinosaurs to be created?

    Yeah, that shit’s ours.

    Amber Rocks. (Which would be a good porn star name, come to think of it.)

  22. “I guess braveheart is okay, but for me larry of arabia has more testosterone (if less blood) and is a better movie”

    Yeah, Lawrence of Arabia was a great movie, but at least *Braveheart* had a sex scene — a man/woman sex scene, that is. At least *Braveheart* had women!

  23. A great artist who happens to be a horrible human being. Gee, when has that ever happened?

  24. Yul Bryner starred in a susprizingly decent 60’s film called “King of the Sun”, or something like that. The plot premise was that a culture of civilised Indians from Mexico flee their enemies into the North American plains, and capture a plains Indian (Yul) who they decide to sacrifice.

    It is really a much better film than the summary makes it sound. Much recommended.

  25. Welsh may have fewer speakers (around 700,000 vs. 800,000 for Yukatek Mayan according to Wikipedia) but it’s far from “dying” especially as Wales gains more autonomy.

  26. Larry of Saudi had a sex scene – T.E. gets off by being whipped by a Turk, right? That would seem to point the testosterone meter in Will Wallace’s direction.


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