DVD Review: Apocalypto

New Line
Movie •••½ Picture •••½ Sound •••½ Extras •••
Yes, Apocalypto is in Mayan dialects with English subtitles. What the characters actually say, though, is of only marginal importance, and if you can stomach the intensity of the images, this is a thrilling piece of visual storytelling.

The movie was shot partially on film, partially on high-def video, and the resulting DVD transfer has colors that sometimes border on stunning, particularly the multi-hued greens of the jungle. But the picture occasionally seems softer than intended and, in several nighttime scenes, lacks the finest shadow detail. The 5.1-channel mix is effective but restrained, mostly serving to add well-placed accents and atmospherics. James Horner's score, which often comes to the forefront of the mix, has lots of bass energy and good dynamics.

Extras include a making-of featurette that offers some interesting technical tidbits. There's also a commentary by director Mel Gibson and co-producer Farhad Safinia that makes one thing clear: Whatever you think about his personal politics, Gibson is a visual craftsman.

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