10,000 BC (2008) dir. Roland Emmerich
Starring: Camilla Belle, Steven Strait, Cliff Curtis
Never before has so much money been thrown at a more ridiculous story. "10,000 BC", the latest Roland Emmerich film to the DVD shelves, is one of the most absurdly ambitious films in recent memory. A tribe of primitive humans make a long trek across land and time to save their chosen one from a horde of evil enslavers.
Assuming the title of the film refers to its timeframe Emmerich commits some of the most revisionist historical errors in cinema history (and I'm not one who generally cares about that stuff). The film starts out in what appears to be an ice-age and ends in Ancient Egypt during the construction of the Great Pyramids (which was actually completed 7500 years later). A group of hunter-gathers, who speak a crudely accented English live communely in twig/bone huts. They talk of a legend of four-legged beasts and the honour of he who slays the beast will lead the tribe to better days. They speak of a girl with blue eyes, a chosen one of sorts, and a hero who will rise above all to lead their people (hey, if Emmerich can bastardize history, I can bastardize his plot).
The film not only spans time, Emmerich takes us from the ice-capped mountains to bamboo jungles to grassy plains and finally to sand-duned deserts. It's a visually interesting pallette, but the tribes move through these environments by foot in a matter of days (sometimes hours). We meet whooly mammoths, sabertoothed tigers, giant man-eating ostriches. At one point the hero rescues a computer generated Tiger from a pit, then makes friends with it after and has his favour returned several scenes later, when the tiger saves the tribe from a group of menacing African warriors.
The biggest threat comes from a warring group of ugly snarling Barbarian-types. When the film moves up the Nile to reveal the half-built pyramids being constructed by whooly mammoths, and led by what we're told is a despotic alien from another world - it sunk to an even deeper level of absurdity. The leader's identity is shrouded from us until he is killed - but considering the direction the film was going I was banking on James Spader from "Stargate" to be under the cloak. I was wrong.
No reference is made about location, probably so as not to offend the cultures of the various ethnicities that Emmerich bastardizes as well. The only white person, other than Camilla Belle, turns out to be the evil 'Wizard of Oz' character I mentioned. His reveal is brief but it clearly looks like a wrinkly old white guy - it still could have been James Spader!
"10,000 BC" could have worked if Emmerich didn't take his film so seriously. With the far-reaching emotions, slow-mo death scenes, and romantic reunifications, Emmerich appears to be reaching for Oscar. Ironically Emmerich's previous films, though similarly overwrought and bad, have an expensive b-movie schlockiness that can actually be fun. "10,000 BC" aspires to be "Braveheart" or "Titanic", which makes it even more pathetic.
A good comparison movie is Uwe Boll's "In the Name of the King" - an almost equally abysmal film - technically proficient, but ridiculous. Yet, "In the Name of the King" is fun no matter how cheesy - like Irwin Allen on steroids. "10,000 BC" is cheesy but never fun and a limp Golan & Globus film at best.
I never thought I'd say this, but bring back Dean Devlin!
"10,000 BC" is available on DVD and Blu-Ray from Warner Home Video