intraspace: the review lounge

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

we were mel gibson

a mel gibson-themed movie review slot for you today...

old 'blood n guts' gibson eh? i'm not a gibson-basher by any stretch of the imagination - he's been involved in some great movies over the years. and you could probably even argue that these are two of them (pictured) but a huge amount of the budget of his films must surely go to the make-up department - in particular for the purchase of 'blood supplies'.

in the great tradition of mel gibson films, blood gushes everywhere in 'we were soldiers' and 'apocalypto'.

the first is the story of a united states cavalry regiment (riding in on newly introduced iroquois helicopters) that goes straight into the middle of firefight with the north vietnamese army. needless to say, the americans are out-numbered about 1000:1 (an exaggeration, but you take my point) and fight for honour, holding out against incredible odds. this is apparently based on a true event. it is quite a good movie, but there are just so many 'firefight' movies about americans against the odds these days (i guess movies about the united states overwhelming lightly armed enemies wouldn't be as exciting. actually it is interesting to note that even though the main strategy of the u.s. military since hiroshima has been been to engulf the enemy in superior firepower, all the movies are about american individuals caught in tricky situations that usually seem to be the result of poor planning in the upper echelons and under-estimating the enemy). the battlefield action in 'we were soldiers' was nicely offset against a subplot about the wives of the soldiers in the regiment.

the second film, 'apocalypto', is set in the mayan world just prior to the arrival of the europeans. city-dwelling mayan folk are suffering from drought and pestilence, so they decide to go and round up a few jungle-dwelling mayan folk to offer up as sacrifices to their god. and so the carnage commences. the story is focussed on a particular jungle-dweller named jaguar paw who is taken prisoner and tries to escape so that he can return to his ruined village and save his wife and child. meanwhile, we are treated to an upclose portrayal of the mayan lifestyle that includes all manner of blood n guts. it is a rather harrowing film to watch, but i think it was worth it and i think i recommend watching it. as was fashionable at the time of the film's release, i recall that mel gibson was accused of racism against the mayans for his portrayal, and i have to say the film doesn't leave them looking terribly attractive - but if it actually is based on historical evidence then so be it.

a strong stomach or desensitised sensibilities probably required to casually watch these films. alternatively you could be prepared to be affected by them.

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