– Summary –
Director : Roland Emmerich
Year Of Release : 2008
Principal Cast : Steven Strait, Camilla Belle, Cliff Curtis, Joel Virgel, Affif Ben Badra, Mo Zinal, Nathanael Baring, Marco Khan, Mona Hammond.
Approx Running Time : 109 Minutes
Synopsis: A prehistoric epic that follows a young mammoth hunter’s journey through uncharted territory to secure the future of his tribe.
What we think : Bloodless, toothless “epic” that is neither epic nor entertaining. You know you’re screwed when the cast all look like they stepped out of a Calvin Klein catalog. A complete disaster from Roland Emmerich.
Well, you have to hand it to Hollywood. If anybody’s going to stuff up a great idea for a movie, it’s going to be them. Yep, the old Clan Of The Cavebear styled adventure, with primitive tribes and woolly mammoths and sabre-toothed tigers is a bold idea, but one stung with stupidity at the hands of the worlds greatest example of directorial ineptitude. Yes, Roland Emmerich, I am staring firmly at you.
The last truly great film you directed, The Patriot, was a flag-waving, chest-beating non-conformist revisionary view of the American War of Independence. It was cheeky, violent and utterly flawed. Yet, it still managed to be entertaining.
10,000BC, with all the weird animals, strange tribes, and thunderous sound and visuals, is about as far from a complete film as you can get between opening and closing credits. And 10,000BC lacks the one thing that separates other films from each other.
It’s utterly nonsensical, devoid of logic and reason, and full of contrivances that make even the most resistant film-goer mentally wander off. Steven Strait “stars” as D’Leh (or, better known as Homer Simpson’s eponymous D’oh!), a young man with a major fixation over beautiful Camille Belle, who plays the Girl, Evolet. I say Girl, because she has about as much characterization and personality as a bowl of chowder. That is to say, none. Strait is all chiselled looks and cloth undies, as he mopes about the mountainside after Evolet is kidnapped (along with a bunch of others) by slave traders.
Sure enough, filled with rage, he and a few other strapping young lads go off to get their stolen families back. With spears.
Managing to grunt out English throughout, pointing at the stars with blanched awe, and still managing to keep their fur undies on even whilst running from all kinds of weird creatures (even some that probably never existed on Earth in all it’s history), our hero and his band of trusty warriors manage to pick up a whole army along the way, before reaching their destination and beginning what can only be described as the first guerrilla campaign ever waged in history.
To be honest, about half way through I began to wonder if Emmerich had watched clips of Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto and thought to himself: sheesh, if Gibbo can do that, then I might have a go myself. Okay, so I’ll stamp out all the truly graphic violence, and perhaps make sure there’s a little bit of Queens English in the script, but again, if Gibson can do it, so can I. After all, I directed Godzilla and everybody hailed me a genius. Right?
No Emmerich, you ain’t no genius, I am here to tell you. This is merely Apocalypto-lite, directed by somebody who prefers animated visual effects over actual storytelling.
Where to start with this film?
The characters are all simple clichés, hardly developed (expect, perhaps, for the wonderful Cliff Curtis as the elder of the tribe D’Leh belongs to.) beyond the most indulgent pastiche of a genre character, and merely service the story to fulfil a plot that’s about as enthralling (and believable) as a film in which mammoths co-exist with what appear to be dinosaur holdovers. It stands to historical fact that dinosaurs died out long before man walked upright, or furry mammals came to exist.
Yep, taking giant strides into historical inaccuracy, Roland Emmerich again proves why he was a flash in the pan with Stargate and ID4, both films of inept storytelling but with enough rousing bravado to cover the flaws.
The diabolical sabre-tooth tiger effort, which looks poor and is scripted to behave in a way no animal would, is both frustrating and intriguing. Add in doses of mysticism and “the unexplained” and supposedly that’s enough to make a film. Nope, it isn’t. The chief villain (among the films many!) is a ubiquitously hidden Super Villain who we never see, described at one point like some Alien Being from another world. Okay, so we take all this clap-trap in our stride, but Aliens? C’mon Emmerich, you did that in Stargate!
The Girl gets less lines than The Creepy Thin Man from Charlie’s Angels and seems merely in the film to provide a plot leap for the Hero to go rescue his fair maiden, all boobs and hair and eyes filled with sorrow (or high on cocaine, take your pick!) and this is just plain, simple, lazy film-making.
To say this film is bad is to call bad films great. This film is not only bad, it’s stupid. It treats the viewer like they’re an idiot. Pandering to the viewer with explanatory voice-over dialogue, throughout the entire movie, is staggeringly self-indulgent. Has Emmerich never attended film-school? One of the cardinal rules is “no voice overs”, or if required, limited at best. Here, the whole film feels like one giant voice-over, hammering home a point that nobody cares about or even understands. It’s so wiffle-waffley that in the end, it merely washes over you. Damn you Omar Sharif. How did you ever lower yourself to this?
Doug wrote a review about Sunshine, found elsewhere on this site, in which he expected much and obtained little in terms of intellectual gratification through that film. Now, I can completely understand how he feels. Sure, Emmerich lacks the subtleties of Danny Boyle’s finer work, but at least Boyle tries different things. Emmerich seems content to rely on his visual effects department to swallow his god-awful scripting and shine this dog-turd up and make it smell like a rose. Like the saying goes: you can’t make silk from a sows ear, and that’s exactly what Emmerich and his crew have tried to do.
If I ever have to show an example of how not to make a film, 10,000BC goes pretty close to top of the list. It’s derivative, clichéd, hackneyed in script and performance, and lacking a freshness that the idea could have truly delivered. It’s such a shame that so much money was spent producing something that was half-baked to begin with.
You may ask yourself how I can be so harsh on a film that made squillions of dollars at the box office. I reply to you, if this is the kind of film that makes squillions at the box office, what does that tell you about humanity. If films like this and Scary Movie 11 get green lit by studio heads with no brains, and intelligent scripts go begging like so much flotsam, then movies have a long way to climb to restore their integrity.