Film review by Gordon Justesen
Technical specs by Michael Jacobson
Stars: Steven Strait,
Camilla Belle, Cliff Curtis
Director: Roland Emmerich
Audio: Dolby True HD, Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.40:1
Studio: Warner Bros.
Features: See Review
Length: 109 Minutes
Release Date: June 24, 2008
“HE IS NOT A GOD!”
Take a big visual spectacle, the kind of which director Roland Emmerich is known for, and mix it in the blender with a screenplay of the exact opposite quality, and you get 10,000 B.C. Notice at the end of that sentence I didn’t bother saying “and you are transported to 10,000 B.C.” There’s a good reason for that.
You know a movie has a unique quality when the words you use to describe it are unlike any you’ve ever written in a single review, or uttered in real life for that matter. For me, it usually takes a while to find the perfect terms to describe a movie, no matter how good or awful it is. In the case of 10,000 B.C., the two best possible words entered my mind at the point of the end credits; beautifully retarded.
Say you had to write a research paper on the time period defined in the title. And you needed some sort of visual aid to help you in writing one. Well, my friend, do not go anywhere near this movie because I can tell you right off the bat that you’d have better luck scoring an A on the paper if all your research came from episodes of Captain Caveman or The Flinstones.
It goes without saying that this movie is quite simply one of the most inane motion pictures to ever get the green light by a studio. In some ways, this deserves to be ranked with the likes of Dragon Wars, as well as any movie directed by Uwe Boll or the two idiots responsible for Date Movie, etc.
And yet, you’re probably wondering why am I giving it a generous rating of two stars. Because unlike some low-rent garbage like Dragon Wars, this movie has got amazing visual effects and one hell of a visual spectacle, which fully explains Roland Emmerich’s presence in the director’s chair. And that’s really saying a lot when a visual spectacle can overshadow the level of stupidity this movie possesses in every other area.
The story, and I will try my best to make sense of it, involves a young tribesman named D’Leh (Steven Strait). He is part of the mightiest of tribes who hunt down wooly mammoths on a daily basis. He possesses true love for the beautiful Evolet (Camilla Belle), otherwise known as “the blue-eyed child”. Not too long after a mysterious psychic lady known only as Old Mother predicts an attack from “four-legged demons”, sure enough an evil clan arrives to slaughter and take captive members of the tribe, including D’Leh’s true love.
So D’Leh begins a journey that will result in him becoming the greatest hero ever known…or something like that. Along with several others, he begins a quest to defeat the evil army and save the people of his tribe, as well as his one true love. And while on this journey, he will run across various ethnic tribes who will sense his heroic qualities within about a minute of meeting him. It always works like that.
Basically, this movie is a more dumbed down version of Apocalypto. In fact, if you took away the love story element, this would pretty much resemble Mel Gibson’s film from beginning to end. Actually, that’s not true, because when I saw Apocalypto I don’t remember seeing sequences involving giant wooly mammoth stampedes, violent attacks from giant man-eating ostriches (I can’t believe how loud I laughed during that scene), and a huge CG saber-toothed tiger whose size seems to change in multiple shots.
Yes, this movie is awful to the core. It’s so bad that had I not been entertained by the its enormous visual spectacle, the sometimes astonishing visual effects, and the extreme laughing resulting from the awfulness, this would immediately end up on my list of the year’s worst films.
At the same time, what keeps 10,000 BC from being completely successful in the so-bad-it’s-good area is the fact that when it’s not being campy or thrilling, it’s downright boring. We have to endure endless scenes of D-level acting. In addition, the movie is basically an encyclopedia of clichés derived from every possible movie of this sort, from Beastmaster to Conan the Barbarian.
But give the studio system credit. It was willing to fork over $100 million so that the next great unintentional laughfest could be brought to life. 10,000 BC is a movie to be relished for all the wrong reasons. If there’s a current movie well suited for a Mystery Science Theater-like dose of heckling from an audience, this is it.
BONUS: The movie’s narration is provided by none other than Omar Sharif.
Gone is the unnecessary pan & scan version; so all that's left is full digital hi-def glory. This is an amazing looking disc, with sharp images, superb coloring, and superior contrast throughout. The darker scenes balance well against the lighter ones, and the many special effect shots look breathtaking.
Dolby TrueHD gives an even better kick to an already awesome audio presentation. The dynamic range is very formidable, as the action sequences and music give this soundtrack plenty of extra kick. The plentiful action set pieces open up the experience and immerse you in full surround, and spoken words are clearly rendered against everything else.
The Blu-ray offers a couple of production featurettes, including looking at the making of the film and the real prehistory that inspired it all. Apart from that, there are some deleted scenes and an alternate ending.
The one thing 10,000 BC illustrates is this: Roland Emmerich and ancient history should not mix. But if it’s for the purpose of excessive cinematic cheese, then that mixture is well-suited. The movie really stinks, but I was able to enjoy the spectacle and laugh at it frequently to the point where I didn’t find it so monumentally awful.