10,000 B.C. (2008)
From director Roland Emmerich comes a sweeping odyssey into a mythical age of prophesies and gods, when spirits rule the land and mighty mammoths shake the earth. In a remote mountain tribe, the young hunter, D'Leh (Steven Strait), has found his heart's passion - the beautiful Evolet (Camilla Belle). When a band of mysterious warlords raid his village and kidnap Evolet, D'Leh is forced to lead a small group of hunters to pursue the warlords to the end of the world to save her. Driven by destiny, the unlikely band of warriors must battle saber-tooth tigers and prehistoric predators and, at their heroic journey's end, they uncover a Lost Civilization. Their ultimate fate lies in an empire beyond imagination, where great pyramids reach into the skies. Here they will take their stand against a powerful god who has brutally enslaved their people.
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10,000 B.C. Theatrical Review
The story is simple: a tribe in the upper mountains hunt the noble tusked-snuffleupagus which comes in great CGI herds across the valley. One day "Old Mother" (a mud-covered Mona Hammond) has a vision that 4-legged demons (guys on horseback) will come and steal their warriors and some women! D'Leh (Steven Strait--Emmerich wanted to cast relative unknowns) is in love with neolithic hottie Evolet (Camilla Belle) and when she gets snatched he leads a small group on what Joseph Campell's called "the hero's journey"--basically about an hour and a half of chasing her down across the whole freaking world.
What he finds is Evil Egyptians (Arabs were bad way back then?) who might or might not be from Atlantis (they do, alas, lack the Star Gate) and he leads a rebellion. To say that the story is basic, moderately cliched, and littered with racial stereotypes does not begin to describe it. There is swelling-music-cues for the important speeches. There is friends-with-animal scenes (with thunder and lightning). There are noble black warrior desert tribesmen (who need 1 white guy to lead them? Seems so ...). And so on. There's lots of prophecies. There are signs from the heavens.
This could've been made in the 60's if not for the CGI special effects (interestingly, to cut rendering time, the director asked the CG shop to cut "half the hair" and decided the animals all looked the same anyway--they do, indeed, for the most part, look pretty good). The intense lack of any kind of historical accuracy (from the building structures to the crop seeds characters are given) is pretty blistering--but if you didn't know that going in, well, there's really no excuse.
The film, despite being 're-tread Hollywood crap' and having some unsavory stereotypical overtones (the one-white-guy leader is the only guy to discover astro-navigation in the desert?) is moderately good spirited and, if you're in the mood, it could be even fun if you forgive some draggy bits.
This is primarily because it is visually striking. The money-shots are worth every penny paid. Movies are getting better at showing us realistic aerial views of teeming ancient cities. They're good at showing us monsters that get more and more convincing with every year (I'm not sure what happened to I Am Legend). The decision to cast unknowns instead of name-brand actors may have actually helped here. Given the material, I suppose they do as reasonable a job as anyone could. The badguys with their gold jewelry and purple robes and so on are actually fantastic looking. The movie creates a wonderful sense of menace and majesty with visuals alone.
So thanks to its looks, like a frat-boy* choosing a date, I shall not gig 10,000 BC for being overly filled with what, today, we'd call "The Stupid." I do, however, have some problems with what I think are a few key narrative missteps. The biggest one is that twice in the film a bad-guy who's down--but is not properly served with the coup de grâce, comes back to kill a major character. I have a corollary issue with someone being Hollywood-saved who, narratively probably shouldn't have been. I have a problem with slow-mo scenes of lovers running to each other's arms with cue-music that something will happen.
I think that it's unfortunate that Emmerich's vision seems to be to make the perfectly stereotypical Hollywood blockbuster instead of making a hot-looking expensive movie that could become a blockbuster. 10,000 BC views like corporate-engineered boy-bands sound: it seems like an effort in audience manipulation. Oh it's done well enough but the craftsmanship isn't any more than skin deep.
-- Marco Chacon
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