23 November 2008

10,000 BC

I Liked 10,000 BC.
By Kristin Battestella

I wasn’t expecting much from the 2008 adventure epic 10,000 BC. Roland Emmerich’s prehistoric tale was quickly dismissed as an effects laden, visual extravaganza with little substance. By and large, that may be the case, but I actually enjoyed this film.

10,000 B.C. When the blue eyed orphan Evolet (Camilla Belle) is rescued by the Yagahl tribe, the wise Old Mother (Mona Hammond) foretells of a prophecy that will save their starving people. Young hunter D’Leh (Steven Strait) strives to win Evolet’s hand in the Last Hunt, but the Yagahl are raided by the Four Legged Demons-a neighboring tribe on horseback who captures Evolet. Together D’Leh and his mentor Tic Tic (Cliff Curtis) travel beyond their snowy mountainous realm in pursuit. Along the way D’Leh encounters other tribes eager to rise up against the raiders-who take their captured to ‘The Mountain of God’. The journey is not easy for D’Leh. Harsh climates and sand storms are made worse by man eating birds, saber tooth tigers, and wooly mammoths.

Yes, I said man eating birds, saber tooth tigers, and wooly mammoths. I didn’t expect 10,000 BC to be any more believable or historically accurate than 300 was. If you take the film as fantasy from the start, it’s really not that bad. With its prophecies, ferocious beasts, Atlantis connections, and Egyptian pyramids, how could it be anything else? No one thinks The Beastmaster or Conan The Barbarian are bad because they aren’t historically accurate. (They may be considered bad for other reasons, but I like those, too.)

The cast of 10,000 BC is nothing to write home about, and this is actually a blessing. I’m glad Roland Emmerich (Stargate, Independence Day) didn’t pad this over the top epic with stars. Sometimes it’s tough to tell who is who in their dreadlocked and dirty selves, but not having a big name allows for an element of anonymity and a touch of realism. These people could have lived back then. The only standout, however, is Cliff Curtis (Whale Rider, The Fountain) as Tic Tic. His mentoring character adds a touch of refinement to the otherwise young and fit cast.
I’m also glad 10,000 BC is PG-13. At first I thought, bummer, we aren’t getting any sex and nudity and rape and pillage that I’m sure was standard for primitive peoples, but having all that goodness would have quickly degenerated 10,000 BC to further stupidity. Yes, Wooly Mammoths didn’t co exist with the pyramids-whether they were built by Atlanteans or aliens or not- saber tooth tigers would not have befriended people, and said people would certainly not speak English. But so what? I liked that one film put all these cool things together, and yes the computer generated effects do look good.

Two things I didn’t like about 10,000 BC, however, are the convoluted traveling schedule and the portrayal of the tribes. We have the snowy, mountain saavy Yagahl people living oh so close to fertile tropical landscapes? Why do they stay in the mountains and starve, then? There’s no visual hints that D’Leh’s journey takes anymore than a few days’ time, yet he goes from big mountains to rainforests to the desert and the Nile delta in a week? Honestly. And of course, the people he encounters are dark skinned, understandable, but they are made to be less primitive than the Yagahl. Even though they grow food and the Yagahl do not, the Naku and the other African tribes who join D’Leh’s quest don’t speak English and have simple wicker shields and spears-compared to the inaccurate stone and metal tools of the Yagahl.

It surprises me that 10,000 BC is considered so bad. Is not 10 Million Years BC bad? Aren’t most popular modern films merely effects laden, plotless tales that stretch viewer believability? From the wooly mammoths to almost dinosaur like birds to big red sailed corsair ships and pyramids- 10,000 BC is preposterous, but yet so dang cool. I could do without some or Emmerich and co writer Harald Kloser’s (The Day After Tomorrow) prophecy double talk, and maybe the film takes itself a bit too seriously. However, I liked 10,000 BC better than The Scorpion King, a film that gives us the same effects and stretch of history mixed with big names and humor. Many find it ridiculous that they speak English, but would you really have remained tuned in if it was all grunts and jibberish?

I would have liked more of the saber tooth tiger design, but the wooly mammoths and pyramid recreations in 10,000 BC are stunning. It’s even a little scary how realistic all this looks, even in comparison to Emmerich’s own fine looking Stargate. Unfortunately, I’m not sure how Omar Sharif’s narration feels. We need a bit of narration to explain things, but could we have had sharper dialogue instead? That could have been worse, perhaps. Then again, the narration does add a feel that this is a fantasy, a legend that has been passed down through the ages into myth and lore.

The DVD of 10,000 BC has little features beyond an alternate ending and deleted scenes. I was hoping for some extensive cg behind the scenes documentaries, but a two disc limited edition DVD seems to have disappeared from existence. Maybe it is not affordable enough yet to take a chance on, but give 10,000 BC a rental try. Is it perfect? Heavens no. However, if you keep an open mind, 10,000 BC has plenty of action; pretty locales and visuals; and fun fanciful theory to keep you and the kids entertained. Who did build the pyramids, anyway?


thebonebreaker said...

Nice Review!

This movie was watchable - not as bad as the majority claims.

I too would have liked to see more of the sabre-toothed tiger! :-)


Kristin Snouffer said...

Hey Bone.

My husband said I wrote about all the bad in the movie. Is is my no means perfect but still pretty cool!