UPDATED: Some friends of mine over at ArtsandFaith.com have just seen Apocalypto, yet another film I couldn’t see due to ice and snow this week.

Here are a few things they’ve said:

Wow. This is the most violent movie I’ve ever seen. People die in some extremely graphic, horrific, unimaginably nasty ways. If you thought The Passion was brutal, well, some of the killings here are even more explicit than the scourging at the pillar sequence. … Visually, it’s admirably detailed and there are some truly powerful scenes. … FWIW, I’m a big fan of both Braveheart and The Passion; I have a high tolerance for violent content, and I appreciated both those movies immensely despite their brutality. This one, though, was extreme even for me.

And then…

It’s not that I think the carnage is unnecessary to the story. But I’m wondering if this story is worth the carnage.

And then…

WOW!

You know that great American film we’ve been waiting for for the last 5…10 yrs! This could be it.

I strongly suggest trying to set aside everything you know about Mel Gibson before seeing this film.

This is possibly THE Most violent film ever made, it certainly takes violence to a whole new disturbing level. Its often times very crude and disturbing in a nearly unwatchable way….

But with that being said. Its messages are extremely subtle and magnificiently powerful.

UPDATE:

More responses:

The violence in Apocaylpto felt like a cheap and manipulative device to up the tension.With the almost constant bloodletting, I was tense and tight throughout the whole movie.

And:

It’s not that I think the carnage is unnecessary to the story. But I’m wondering if this story is worth the carnage.

And then, Peter T. Chattaway:

It’s good to see what Mel’s done with the profits from all those sold-out church-sponsored screenings of The Passion, isn’t it?

Huh.

Jeffrey Wells writes:

Mel Gibson has a thing — a big thing — about brutality. William Wallace’s climactic disembowling in Braveheart, the dozens upon dozens of terrible blows inflicted upon Jim Caviezel’s Jesus in The Passion of the Christ, and now, in the obviously well made and extremely visceral Apocaylpto, all kinds of gougings, clubbings, belly-guttings, stabbings, disembowelings, animal attacks, ritualistic beheadings and tapir testicle- chewing are served up start to finish. And it’s gotten to be a bit much. Really.

The more I watched Apocalypto the more this opinion sank in, and I just got sick of it after a while. It’s like Gibson and his co-screenwriter Farhad Safinia sat down and focused on creating a story that would heap on every ghastly form of torture, subjugation, mutilation and death known to or imagined by the most malignant Mayan psychopaths of all time. And because it’s mainly a mind-of-Mel film, I didn’t believe in the story or the characters or anything else. I just wanted it to be over. It enabled me, in fact, to see fresh virtues in the movies of Nancy Meyers.

Apocalypto is not schlock. It shows again that Gibson is nothing if not a totally go-for-broke, whole-hog, get-it-right filmmaker. He’s done an admirable job at recreating a rich, exotic, predatory world. The casting, costumes, set design, cinematography, cutting — all of it is of a very high order. But to what end?

Perhaps my favorite line, from Ed Gonzalez at Slant:

Mel Gibson is sick, but his new film profits from his weakness.

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