Apocalypto Blu-ray Review
PictureApocalypto comes to us on Blu-ray complete with a spectacular 1080p High Definition picture in the movie's original theatrical widescreen aspect ratio of 1.85:1. From the opening scenes of the luscious jungle it was clear that this movie was going to be a visual treat and the High Definition presentation really does it justice. Detail is tremendous, with every scar, practically every pore on their faces coming across on close-ups. Every single leaf seems distinguished, and even in the darker sequences the picture stands up. The colour scheme is broad and consistently vividly represented - from the aforementioned luscious greens to the blazing glow of the night fires and the faded browns of the wood-based villages, it all looks absolutely fabulous. The contrast ensures that - for the most part - grain is kept to a minimum (a good comparative scene is the nightmare sequence where desaturation is put to good use, but with the intended side-effect of grain) and blacks remain dark and solid, allowing for decent shadowing and good night-time sequences. If there was one minor gripe, it is the blurring, but I think that is more to do with the filming - the steadicam shots used for action, running fast and so forth, do not come across that well. Still, for the majority of the time this is a spectacular presentation, one of the best that I have come across on Blu-ray.
SoundTo accompany the movie, we get the best from Blu-ray, a powerful 5.1 uncompressed PCM audio track in the movie's original Mayan language. Dialogue is presented clearly and coherently, largely across the frontal array, with the shouts and screams occasionally stretching out to the surrounds. The sound effects are pretty much constant - this is a highly immersive movie - with the whole jungle coming alive across the surrounds and making you feel like you are right there. The loud thumps of the club blows, the wet slashing of the rock blades as they slit throats, it all comes across vividly, with the general bustle of the Mayan villages allowing the speakers to come alive in much the same way as the living jungle. The score is totally in line with the proceedings, with plenty of drum action (and thus lots of LFE use) and a passion that broods and builds to all the more climactic sequences. Occasionally reminiscent (although inferior to) of Peter Gabriel's seminal scoring of The Last Temptation of Christ, the score rounds off a superb audio offering, presented in the best format, in the best way. It you want to be reminded of just how much better the lossless PCM track is, there's a standard Dolby Digital 5.1 offering for comparison.
ExtrasFirst up we get a full length Audio Commentary by the Writer, Director and Producer Mel Gibson, as well as the Writer and Co-Producer Farhad Safinia. They do a good job at providing an insight into the production, only lightly covering the more interesting Mayan culture aspects, instead focussing on what it was like to work with the people and the more 'independent movie' nature of the production. Gibson is thoughtful and engaging and it is a worthy listen for those who enjoyed the movie.
'Becoming Mayan' is a 25 minute Making of Documentary which charts the creation of this movie, with interview excerpts (mostly from the crew members) and behind the scenes footage. Although it covers some of the same material as the Commentary, the visuals are often compelling - with footage of the Mayan cast working in front of the camera and training for the production. Gibson is once again prominent, explaining the interesting comparisons between the subject matter and the war in Iraq. Given that he wrote the script, his intentions are obvious from his words here, but the movie is clearly capable of being enjoyed without reading too deeply into what Gibson was griping about.
There is also a single, short - and fairly unnecessary - Deleted Scene, which can be viewed with optional Commentary from the same duo: Gibson and Safinia. Finally we get a selection of Blu-ray previews as well as that pointless 'Movie Showcase' gimmick that offers you direct access to the scenes that the Production Company has deemed ideal to show off the capabilities of your High Definition system.
VerdictApocalpyto is Gibson at his directorial best: providing a unique setting, breathtaking scenery, tense action sequences and a revenge-orientated script. It may not be Oscar material, but it is still sumptuous and engaging, with plenty to keep you entertained over its runtime. The visual and aural presentation is excellent, marred only by the different film sources used, and there are a couple of nice extras to round off the disc. Well worth watching and arguably deserving of a position in your collection.
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