Mark Reviews Movies

10,000 B.C.

1 Star (out of 4)

Director: Roland Emmerich

Cast: Steven Strait, Camilla Belle, Cliff Curtis, Joel Virgel, Affif Ben Badra, Mo Zinal, Nathanael Baring, Mona Hammond, Marco Khan

MPAA Rating:  (for sequences of intense action and violence)

Running Time: 1:49

Release Date: 3/7/08

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Review by Mark Dujsik

I am slightly embarrassed by my behavior during the screening of 10,000 B.C. A little bit of information: I love, love making snide comments during bad movies, but I typically wait for such an occasion when I'm sitting around watching a movie with some friends. It's fun, harmless, and everyone has a laugh. So it is with a slight bit of shame in the afterthought that I admit to ripping on 10,000 B.C. with fierce aplomb while sitting in a crowded theater.

I was quiet, yes, and made sure to direct comments only to the people on either side of me (both of whom I know), but it has been a long while since I've seen a movie that asked for—nay—demanded ridicule for its refusal to admit to its campy premise and instead decides to play its cheap, ineffective thrills, cheesy dialogue, and cliché-ridden script with complete, hopeless sincerity. The least silly thing in the movie is the fact that an ancient tribe speaks the King's English (and with the standby accent that sounds as though they're thinking of each word as it's being spoken). Yes, this movie goes beyond silly into that priceless realm of the ridiculous.

It is, as the title implies, 10,000 B.C. and a tribe of hunters in the mountains is the subject of a legend that Omar Sharif, the unfortunately incessant narrator whose words begin to sound like "blah, blah, blah" after his second of perhaps 30 vocal appearances, is about tell us for a while. See, there's a psychic in this tribe named Old Mother (Mona Hammond) who foretells of a great warrior who will lead them after their last hunt. Well, the last hunt comes along, and D'Leh (Steven Strait and pronounced "delay") kills a mastodon and becomes the tribal ruler and wins the rights to Evolet (Camilla Belle), his longtime, blue-eyed love.

Only he says he didn't really kill the mastodon (It ran into the spear he wisely placed against some rocks, a semantics argument that seems sort of moot, really) and gives up the White Spear (the symbol of tribe-ruler-dom or something) and Evolet. Then some eerie folks on horseback come along and steal some members of the tribe, including, naturally, Evolet, and D'Leh and three others, including the tribe's fearless leader with the fearsome name of Tic'Tic (Cliff Curtis) go looking for their stolen people.

Their quest brings them along over "many moons" to faraway lands. They start in the snowy mountains, make a quick right at the tundra, which leads directly into an immediately dense jungle that makes a pit stop in China (because there's bamboo), exit straight away into a rocky landscape, and end up in an impassable desert (We know this, not only because Sharif tells us, but also because one member of their ever-growing party passes out). Take into account that these locales are directly next to each other, and it gives new definition to the term climate change.

The actors are set against completely unconvincing green screen backdrops or walk in long helicopter shots through the snowy mountains (a tableau that will be overly familiar to anyone who's seen a fantasy epic in the last five years (the fact that most of the movie is shot in New Zealand makes the effect more apparent)). Then they stumble into a new locale (Seriously, snowy mountains next to a hot jungle?) and encounter some kind of test, to which, Sharif tells us, Old Mother could not have foreseen the outcome.

There's the cheap mastodons, a flock of emu-dodos that—I kid you not—vocalize the word "ow" when hit, and a saber-toothed tiger that shows up twice and does nothing because D'Leh asks it not to eat him. Meanwhile, we have to hear D'Leh tell Evolet, "I will come back for you. I promise," or point to the North Star and say, "That light is like you in my heart." I have yet to mention that, while D'Leh is a whiny, cowardly hero whose character arc is to turn into a slightly less whiny and cowardly hero, he also discovers navigation because of that last line.

Yes, while the armies D'Leh has amassed chase the evil, pyramid-building slave-gatherers, they are stopped briefly when the bad guys get into ships on a river. How will they find the end of the river in this impassable desert? The obvious answer, of course, is follow the damn river, but instead, D'Leh realizes that by following the fixed point of light in the night they can find where his old, blue-eyed love is being held. There's a god-on-Earth king, the most harmless stampede ever (of mastodons in the desert, no less), and a lot more of Sharif assuring us this will be over soon but not soon enough.

I've left out some stuff (Tic'Tic gets two near-death scenes, and D'Leh manages to break into and out of the slave prison (shot crap-for-night), though none of the slaves follow his lead on the second part), but 10,000 B.C. is the kind of movie that people will discover new and hilarious ways to mock for years to come. So, because of that, I don't apologize for my running commentary.

Copyright © 2008 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.

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