Apocalypto and Shooter

Posted by Thomas Mon, 27 Aug 2007 17:18:21 +0000

I managed to watched both Apocalypto and Shooter this weekend. It’s seemed like forever since I’ve watched a movie at home or in the theater. They were both good; I’d say Shooter better than Apocalypto, since there was a lot of hype/buzz around Apocalypto, which set my expectations higher than for the relatively unknown Shooter (well unknown to me at least).

I thought that Apocalypto had a whole lot of potential that it didn’t meet up to. The story was timeless and well constructed; at its base a story about a man and his family and the things he had to do to survive and the things he had to do to bring his family back together again. The sort of story that very much transcends the time, cultural, and language differences. The acting was spectacular. I don’t know how much acting experience the majority of the cast had, but I would imagine it was little to none, yet the acting was so believable. I think my major concerns were primarily in how several of the action scenes were shot and in some of how the stunts looked. There were times when both just seemed exceedingly amateurish, even to the point that I felt visually jarred the several times it happened. I could understand how the quality of the stunts could be compromised due to the fact that I think that most of the stunts were done by the principles, but my gripe was that there were only a handful of these stunts that were executed poorly or shot poorly. The vast majority were great, but there were these few that should have been better for a film of this size and scope. The second thing was that I felt that the music could played a much more significant role. There were several times when I expected the score to really build up the suspense or the action, or more strongly emphasize or underline what was going on. The movie, which not quite what I would have considered an epic like Braveheart of Gladiator, the story was fundamentally strong, the dialogue was colloquial and smart for the time in which it was set, and perhaps you couldn’t accompany a not-quite-epic movie with an epic score, but there were times when I really felt like the score let me down. And after I had watched it, I was of course glad to see that there was a director’s commentary, but I couldn’t even make it through all of it, in which Mel Gibson commented as the director, along with co-writer/co-producer Farhad Safinia. In what I was able to get through, Mel didn’t talk about at all (or very little) about his crew or his DP, the set design or production design, costuming or makeup, where the actors came from and their background, where things were shot, what language was being spoken; I could go on. Honestly to me, I really love a director who is grateful to everyone involved in the production all the way at the top from the studio and the producers down to the lowliest of production assistants who make the enormous undertaking it is to shoot a film these days an actually doable project. There are so many things that have to be coordinated and perfectly timed and setup that it takes a village to make a movie on this scale. In the small portion of the film that I watched with the commentary, he just really came off arrogant to me that he wouldn’t mention the army that helped him realize his vision.

Shooter on the other hand I have very little to talk about. I thought that it was a very well done film. It was very real and more or less factual, with a good plot and arch and character development. The cinematography was great as was the production design. And, in the commentary, the director gave me exactly what I like in a commentary, adding depth to the story, explaining those subtleties and nuanced things I missed the first time around, and generally adding depth to the character development while adding technical details, talking about shooting, the actors and the locations. An all around great movie with a feel that definitely hearkens back to a style of film making and story telling that we don’t see very often nowadays.

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