Movie News & Reviews

It's easy to get lost in 10,000 B.C.

In nerd terms (RIP, Gary Gygax), director Roland Emmerich wields a +5vorpal sword against my critical abilities.

The Day After Tomorrow sucks, you say? Well yes, but perhapsyou're forgetting how there was snow everywhere. And thewolves ran on top of the snow. And the people died if they werecaught in the really cold parts of the storm! Yet somehow -- perhapsbecause it was in many ways it was made entirely fromgarbage -- everyone else thought that movie was a heaping pile of trash

There could barely be a bigger piece of me-kryptonite than Emmerichdoing a movie about cavemen. The only way that could be better is ifthe cavemen were battling an alien race of robots with a designvulnerability to blow darts. Even then, it would be a close call.

In 10,000 B.C., blue-eyed Camilla Belle is taken in by astruggling clan. It's prophesied that whoever among the hunters killsa mammoth will be the one to claim her (feminism wouldn't be inventedfor another 11,960 years). By a stroke of luck, clan chump StevenStrait single-handedly kills a mammoth and is to be promoted to studamong men.

Top hunter Cliff Curtis knows Strait doesn't deserve the acclaim,though, and shames him into declining his new status. The chance forredemption arises when a band of horsemen rides into the village,killing many and kidnapping others, including Belle. With theirnumbers depleted, Strait, Curtis, and a handful of companions head outfrom their mountain home to try to rescue the lost members of theirtribe.

The general consensus is director/co-writer Emmerich hacks like amachete, but you know what he does really well? Builds worlds. Hischaracters might be doofy and forgettable, but his environmentsaren't, and he gets a lot of mileage out of all the strange placesCAVEMAN passes through on his pursuit of silly prophecies and hotchicks.

Emmerich's pretty good on the action front, too. Kind of like a poorman's Peter Jackson, though without the sense of humor. Maybe thatbumps him down to a rag-wearing Peter Jackson, but since Jackson doeswear rags and even if he was very poor he could still pay each andevery one of us $1,000 to eat a live cricket, I think Emmerich is stillcoming out OK in this equation.

He's less OK in the story department. An unnecessary narrator addsnothing but an insult to our intelligence -- yeah, it's real hard tokeep tabs on a plot as complicated as one group of guys chasing afteranother group of guys -- and as for all the prophecies and mysticismflying around, they're just a distraction.

A distraction from the giant man-eating birds and man-tramplingmammoths that are the real stars of 10,000 B.C., that is, whichraises the question of how much brain damage you're willing to let amovie inflict on you in exchange for good CG and a world that'scompelling despite often being as shallow as the pool of drool on thetheater floor after a herd of trumpeting carpet-covered elephantswrecks up everything in sight. Ankle-deep, in other words.

One of the many great things about The Bourne Ultimatum is itreminded us action movies don't have to be stupid. The part where hebeats the guy's ass with a book was pretty sweet, too.

10,000 B.C. is not bright. The real wonder is that it has ascript at all, given that its writers clearly don't understand suchsorcery as how to make fire, let alone the written alphabet. (Theiridea of realism is to make people who live in the snowy snowymountains refer to snow as the "white rain." No word on whether theyrefer to rain as "that see-through snow that's much wetter thannormal.") What it's got is imagination, a world you can get lost in,no matter how big and foolish that world may be.

Grade: B-