a critiQal film review 10,000 BC (2008)

Plot: During the dawn of man, a young hunter (Strait) leads an army across a vast desert, battling saber tooth tigers and prehistoric predators as he unearths a lost civilization and attempts to rescue the woman he loves (Belle) from an evil warlord determined to possess her.

606 words (Est. Reading Time 3m 1s)
  • ...this historically inaccurate piece is still unable to shake off that dry re-enactment feel.

Roland Emmerich’s latest film, 10,000 BC is now on DVD. After catching everyone’s attention with Independence Day (1996), he let a lot of people down with his remake of Godzilla (1998) – then came back and surprised everyone again with The Day After Tomorrow (2004).

In his latest, 10,000 BC, he takes viewers on a journey through the ancient past as he follows the struggles of one mammoth hunter who becomes a savior of his people after an unprovoked attack on his village by a strange new foe.

But will viewers take the journey back into the past with Emmerich? Judging by his record, 10,000 BC is the disappointment between good efforts (The Day After Tomorrow (2004) and his upcoming 2012 (2009)). Will this movie continue that history, or will Emmerich be able to make 2 good movies in a row?

Most of the acting in 10,000 BC is rather perfunctory. No one seems to be really into their portrayal of their characters, and many of the performances are lost in the muck. In fact, only 2 actors are really able to shine any sort of light on the scene: Camilla Belle and Cliff Curtis. They have at least some semblance of an on-screen presence in the film, and are able to capture the viewers attention – at least for a little bit.

It’s not the acting, however, that’s the real letdown of 10,000 BC – it’s the way the story is told that really hurts the film. With a dry narrator voicing the flow of the film, 10,000 BC seems more like a history lesson rather than an exciting film.

That narration, which leads the viewer step by step through the story, really pulls the viewer away from any sort of attachment they otherwise may have formed with many of the characters. It takes the film from being actually exciting to being more like a re-enactment of historic events – the kind that can be seen on The History ChannelĀ® all the time.

Sure, some of those re-enactments are fun to watch, but there’s a reason they are on the small screen – the big screen needs a bit of flavor added to the story, something to keep the viewers entertained enough to justify the longer running time and higher cost.

Unfortunately, despite various special effects of impressive woolly mammoths and a sabre-toothed tiger, the narration completely wipes out any of the interest the viewer may have otherwise had in the film.

With that constant separation between viewer and the events on-screen, it’s even more of a surprise that Camilla Belle and Cliff Curtis are able to captivate the viewers – even if only briefly. In the right films, they could be exceptional – it’s too bad their talents are largely wasted in this mess.

Even if the viewer manages to stick through to the end and meet the “ultimate evil,” they will be sadly disappointed. An anti-climactic ending full of way too many contrived cliches is a further letdown, leaving the viewer even more disappointed.

A film with a large scope and some dry narration has worked before (see The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) and its sequels – yet it fails miserably in 10,000 BC. Unable to shake off the dry re-enactment feel of the film, 10,000 BC is definitely not one of the better films to come out recently on DVD.

Many may watch anyway, and the special effects should appease some, but largely, many will be as disappointed as I was with this latest film from director Roland Emmerich.

Hopefully, pulling viewers out of the past and thrusting them into the near future with 2012 (2009) will work better for him – and if his pattern continues to hold up, it should.

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