Stale Story Hurts Spectacle of 10,000 B.C.
- Friday, March 07, 2008
DVD Release Date: June 24, 2008
Theatrical Release Date: March 7, 2008
Rating: PG-13 (for sequences of intense action and violence)
Genre: Action/Adventure, Drama
Run Time: 109 min.
Director: Roland Emmerich
Actors: Steven Strait, Camilla Belle, Cliff Curtis, Joel Virgel, Mo Zinal, Nathanael Baring, Mona Hammond, Marco Khan, Omar Sharif
The new movie from director Roland Emmerich (Independence Day, The Patriot), 10,000 B.C., raises the question: Who knew action-movie clichés went back that many years?
Diverting, entertaining—and at times exciting—during its first half, 10,000 B.C. becomes a bore during its later stretch. That may be because the films it most resembles during the early part of its running time—a notable chase scene echoes Steven Speilberg’s Jurassic Park, and the prehistoric creatures bring to mind the original King Kong—are better films than the horrific film it resembles during its second half: Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto.
And yet, 10,000 B.C. never approaches the level of violence of Gibson’s film. In general, the early part of the film is on the tame side, even fun. It tells the story of a legend—the Yagahl tribe, threatened by forces they can’t control, but who find their hope in a prophecy about a child with blue eyes. That child is Evolet (Camilla Belle), a girl to whom the boy D’Leh (Steven Strait) pledges himself while they are young. “The love in their hearts grew stronger,” narrator Omar Sharif says, “until the day of the last hunt arrived.”
That hunt is a key moment, for with its conclusion, D’Leh is able to claim Evolet as his own, and to lay claim to the white spear—a key to preserving the tribe, according to the prophecy from Old Mother (Mona Hammond), the tribe’s spiritual leader.
But D’Leh carries a burden at the same time: He has staked his reputation on a distortion of the facts. He confesses his lie, but gets a chance to reclaim his honor when Evolet is stolen by angry marauders. Setting out to find her, he and his friends track Evolet, thanks to clues she leaves along the trail.
The cultural clash and geographical shifts in terrain throughout 10,000 B.C. are jarring, but Emmerich and his special effects gurus throw in enough set pieces to keep things interesting for a while. In addition to some beautiful scenery (is it live or Memorex? Tough to tell in the age of digital technology), the CGI creations of giant tusked beasts and menacing predators make for some exciting sequences.
The excitement fades as D’Leh and his friends locate Evolet among a civilization of warriors who enslave others and force them to build pyramids. The leaders answer to “the almighty”—a cloaked figure who is worshipped by the pyramid-building thugs. However, the scheming bullies that run the pyramid-building operation are far less interesting than the special-effects creations from Emmerich’s team. Their antics play out with diminishing returns, until the big finale.
The film’s mythology is broad enough to include hints of the Christian story, but make no mistake: This is not a prehistoric Christian parable. Its scenes of prophecy and spiritual torment may provoke unease among Christian viewers who are uncomfortable with scenes of mysticism. It does, however, expose the folly of idol worship among the villains, and its protagonist is a small-scale savior of his people. Still, the film doesn’t have much to say on a spiritual level. It’s much more interested in the saber-tooth tigers and other ferocious beasts that imperil the heroes.
10,000 B.C. works as sheer spectacle, but its story is forgettable. Its unknown actors make an impression because of their striking looks, but it’s hard to fathom what their future roles might be based on this special-effects driven extravaganza. Best to leave 10,000 B.C. in the past, and hope for better things in the future from all involved.
Questions? Comments? Contact the writer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Language/Profanity: None.
- Drugs/Alcohol: None.
- Sex/Nudity: None; one scene of kissing.
- Violence: Boys fight; men crushed by stampeding beasts; a woman is whipped; lots of spearing of animals and people; human skulls and bones are pictured, as are animal carcasses; a slave uprising.
- Religion: Multiple prophecies from people who can see into the future and tap into what other people are feeling and experiencing; warriors worship a man they call the “almighty.”
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