I'll admit it, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this movie. I would even go as far a saying it's one of the most entertaining action movies I've seen all year. Sure the film does not actually shed much light on why the Mayan civilizations became extinct. Was it because one group thought to impose its values/beliefs on another? Were they all just a bunch of savages? Or was it the emergence of the white man? Lets face it, plot has never been Mel Gibson's strong point as a director. You need look no further than "Man Without A Face" and "The Passion of the Christ" for examples of this (Bravehart being the rare exception). As a director, Mel has always thrived on his keen visuals sense. Which is why I think Apocalypto works so well. The action sequences and the fantastic art direction more than make up for the paper-thin story.
Although the film is even more violent than The Passion of the Christ, I thought the violence was better used in this film. I loved the little details that Gibson puts into the film. The mist of blood that hangs in the air after a brutal strike, etc... I also liked that he showed the various medical techniques that Mayans used to heal wounds. The makeup and costumes effectively gave every single person a distinct personality and social standing. Sure there are times when Mel wants us to make comparisons to America's current and past actions. Yet he does not quiet succeed on that level. At the end of the day Apocalypto is nothing more than a visually stunning Rambo-style action flick minus the guns/explosions. Yet, it was far more inventive and entertaining than most of the blockbuster that came out this year.