Will the travails of Mel Gibson never end? After getting drunk and revealing his true thoughts about the Chosen People and then mistaking a female police officer’s breasts for a sweet confection, Mel hoped to bounce back with Apocalypto, his gory Mayan epic. The film opened well, but soon imploded – the movie has made 46 million dollars total, and if you believe the scuttlebutt, the picture cost 70 to 80 million to make (the official word is that it cost 40).
Now, just to add insult to injury, Mel is being sued by a Mexican filmmaker who claims that Apocalypto rips off his film, Return to Aztlan. And director Juan Catlett isn’t just seeing similarities in the two pictures – he claims that Gibson’s manager requested a copy of the 1991 film while shooting Apocalypto. If Catlett can prove that Gibson did ask for a copy of Return to Aztlan, that’s pretty damning. On the other hand, I can’t imagine why Gibson would have asked for a movie he was planning on ripping off. Then again, judgment doesn’t seem to be Mel’s strong suit.
A look at IMDB shows that the stories seem to only have basic similarities – both involve the Mayan civilization struggling against itself in a time of great drought – but Catlett is claiming that Gibson actually stole scenes from his movie. I felt that Apocalypto was enjoyable, but beyond the setting, quite generic, so I wonder if Catlett isn’t just seeing a standard action film in Mayan clothing and getting reactionary.