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10,000 B.C. (2008)

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Score: 3/10

Genre: Adventure Running Time: 1 hr. 49 min.

Release Date: March 7th, 2008 MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: Roland Emmerich Actors: Steven Strait, Camilla Belle, Cliff Curtis, Joel Virgel, Ben Badra, Mo Zainal, Omar Sharif

T

hough far too predictable and constantly dragged down by plot holes and clichés, Roland Emmerich’s latest special effects extravaganza still showcases silly fun for those who can easily suspend their disbelief – or don’t demand well-conceived characters. Basically, no one should be enthralled with such a film, but it’s simple enough to enjoy the sight of a herd of stampeding mammoths unleashing death and destruction. Unfortunately, those few epic moments are few and far between.

The year is 10,000 B.C. A remote mountain tribe of mammoth-hunters is attacked by a marauding group of slavers who capture Evolet (Camilla Belle), the promised wife to unwilling leader D’Leh (Steven Strait). Desperate to retrieve his beloved, D’Leh embarks on a perilous mission across treacherous mountains, predator-infested jungles, and burning deserts, which will find him uniting several warrior tribes to overthrow the tyrannical leader of a lost civilization.

It’s as clear as white rain that “10,000 B.C.” isn’t striving for any manner of authenticity in its portrayal of ancient … anything. At best mimicking “Apocalypto” set in Egypt, and at worst an inferior, toned-down retelling of “One Million Years B.C.,” Emmerich’s film attempts to shadow what could have been in “300: The Bedtime Story,” but sacrifices any true power and intensity with sappiness and stereotypes. The decision to have the protagonist’s tribe speak English may seem logical to entice the average moviegoer, but a careful examination isn’t required to find numerous contradictory and unnecessary narrations. In an attempt to feign authenticity, much of the dialogue feels completely pointless. Lines like “just try it” as a contemptuous retort simply don’t belong in a pre-history epic.

Another area that betrays the film’s setting is the casting. Faces that are far too pretty and teeth that are way too white scream of Hollywood over-styling – though by any stretch of the imagination, this film isn’t meant to be a history lesson. The primary cast does the best with the incompatible dialogue they’re given, while Camilla Belle certainly looks like a prize worth chasing after, but the energy and thrills that should come naturally to this wild and woolly environment are almost entirely absent.

Rather than storytelling, “10,000 B.C.” thrives on its CG effects. And even those are not all flawless or notably realistic. Nevertheless, several of its attempts are satisfyingly grandiose, particularly with the action of stampeding furry elephants, velociraptor-like dodos, and a not-so-mean saber-toothed tiger. The most impressive visuals, however, belong to the long shots of gargantuan pyramids being constructed by thousands of scurrying people. The sequences when these massive monuments inevitably come crashing down are unusually thrilling, too. Quite a bit of creativity also went into the varied costumes that adorn each tribe of warriors, as well as the subjugating tyrants (who recall their majestic and garishly dressed counterparts in Zack Snyder’s “300”), though the historical authenticity is once again called into question. Ultimately, a lack of story, character development, and realism won’t stop fans of Emmerich’s special effects-laden disaster blockbusters from enjoying a bit of mindless, guilty-pleasure, action-adventure entertainment in a fresh take on an ancient world. But maybe it should.

– The Massie Twins

 



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