Cultural anthropologist Liz Grandia's article lays out far better than I ever could the kind of heedless ignorance Gibson likes to brandish in his movies (it's the kind of ignorance that chooses Anne Catherine Emmerich's texts (if they really are her texts--there's doubt) over the Bible for a movie on Christ, or portrays Jews as demonic money-grubbing backstabbers who let the Romans do their dirty work for them).
This is not exactly a new trend; as far back as his Oscar-winning (and utterly ludicrous) Braveheart Gibson has had a blinkered, hateful view of the politically marginalized, not to mention a way of painting all over them with a broad brush--witness the way he slanders Prince Edward in the picture.
The praise for Gibson's talent is, frankly, puzzling--what's the difference between his style and, say, Eli Roth's in Hostel? If' it's graphic violence and body mutilation you want, Roth's movie shows that a few modern hardware items and an array of medical equipment will cause far more suffering and physical damage, and with far more reliability and precision, than was available to the Mayans, anytime.
Oh, he can hire good talent--Caleb Deschanel for Passion of the Christ, Dean Semler (the cinematographer of choice of George Miller in films like The Road Warrior, and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome) for this project. Gibson can also pull off something halfway entertaining--the encounter with the jaguar comes to mind--but at his best he is a pale shadow of Miller, who was filmmaker enough to give the kineticism in his early works an epic, mythological feel, and never felt a need to dwell on the violence (you saw more cars being shredded in his postapocalyptic outbacks than human beings)--unlike Gibson, who often will (most notably in Passion of the Christ) indulge himself to the point of tedium (all right, all right, his back's hamburger meat--get on with it already).
More, Miller seems to have moved beyond mere action--he has kept his dark, larger-than-life filmmaking, and applied it to such diverse films as Lorenzo's Oil, Babe: Pig in the City, and Happy Feet (a for all its flaws far more ambitious, more imaginative, and more moving (not to mention more environmentally relevant and popular) film, I submit).
We're talking about an anti-Semitic, racially insensitive (to put it mildly), homophobic director, narrow in his range of interests (have I mentioned his Man Without a Face? More evidence of a persecution complex, mawkishly dramatized, plus Gibson expunges any and all hints of the main character's homosexuality from his adaptation), and rich enough to buy what semblance of filmmaking talent he has. A hack asshole, in short.
I'd have thought people would be smarter than to continue to buy this guy's bullshit (though apparently people still do). Give me wittier practitioners of the art of torture or violence, like Michael Haneke, or even the now-unpopular Kim Ki-Duk; at least they still know the value of creating horror in the mind, or of operating on the principle that less can at times be more (I'm thinking of the less-violent-than-you-remember Funny Games and the bizarrely beautiful The Isle, respectively), or at the very least of using a less sophomoric brand of humor (the Three Stooges Meet The Spicy Testicle joke that opens Apocalypto is more embarrassing than funny). The only principle Gibson seems to recognize is a kind of masturbatory sadomasochism--the more he feels bad, the more he wants you to suffer for it. Especially if you're not white.
(Which is about all I can say on the movie at the moment; I'll be moving house, and won't be able to post anything new till maybe next week)