My father was a big fan of historian Will Durant, so I got the impact of the Durant epigram about the fall of empires at the beginning.
I know that a few blowhard Chicano Studies types complained about the movie, but face it, all those things such as slave raids and the sacrifice of prisoners to the gods were happening, there and of course in Tenochtitlan.
Ever since I took a graduate seminar in Mesoamerican religion with Davíd Carrasco, I have been suspicious of cultures with large, astronomically aligned buildings. They always seem to reflect a society where the king is the Son of Heaven and the Few rule the Many with a heavy hand.
I suspect that Stonehenge might have been produced by a Neolithic version of that cultural template too, for all that Pagans revere the place.
Or you might say that polytheism + imperialism = imperialism.
Along with prisoners of war, the Maya apparently favored sacrificing boys.
Gibson being Gibson, the movie’s final message apparently is, “The world is a corrupt and violent place, so you are better off dying as a Catholic.” Extra ecclesiam nulla salus and all that.