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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

10,000 B.C. (review)

Prehysterical

Oh my god: the silly, it burns. It burns! All the “tellings” and the dreadlocks and the too much narration telling us about the tellings and the people with the dreadlocks and the hero who’s The One who’s gonna save the world by being a hero and the… the how it ends. My god, how it gets to the place where it’s gonna end.
It’s sort of grand, actually, in it awfulness. Sort of epic. Sort of like you can’t believe how huge and sprawling and rather magnificent the dumbness is. And I’m not even talking about how, if you have the slightest bit of knowledge about human history at all, you spend the entirety of 10,000 B.C. muttering to yourself things like, “Wait, had the bow and arrow been invented already?” “Agriculture? They have agriculture?” “Were people riding horses 12,000 years ago?” “Oh, come on: sailing ships?! pyramids?!” “Metalworking? Never! Or, holy crap, is that wood clinking like metal?” Cuz none of that really matters, even if it feels like the movie throws this stuff in just to be cool, just to act like it’s all hip to the awesome potential of this newfangled technology stuff the kids are all into with their fire and their spears. Even if you want to say, “If you wanted to make a movie about the Paleolithic world, Roland Emmerich, why didn’t you, you know, try to actually re-create in some kind of realistic measure the Paleolithic world?” Even if you want to merely snicker, “You call this anthropology?”

Because it probably wouldn’t matter any more than Han Solo talking about parsecs as if — *snort* — they were a measure of time if the human aspect of the story made any damn kind of sense. If the storytelling aspect of the story made any damn kind of sense. Because the whole thing — it was written by Emmerich and some guy named Harald Kloser, whose other movie credits are for composing music (he’s probably always wanted to direct, too…) — is such complete nonsense that all the other preposterousness in the background pales in comparison. In fact, it becomes clear quite rapidly that not being preposterous is not high on this flick’s list of aspirations. It’s not really a priority for it, okay?

Cuz, you can’t just have an unnamed narrator who isn’t even a character go around intoning importantly about prophecies — “tellings” — and such and make us accept it just like that. I mean, I could go around saying things like, “It is foretold that I shall go unto Target and purchase new socks,” and that wouldn’t make it religion, like the “tellings” are here for D’Leh (Steven Strait: The Covenant, Sky High) and his mammoth-hunting people. It wouldn’t make it interesting. But what goes on here would be like as if you heard my telling about Target and set off on a round-the-world quest to learn of these socks of which are spoken so much. D’Leh’s girl Evolet (Camilla Belle: The Invisible Circus) — “Te Love” backward, which is so close to “Teh Love” that ya gotta wonder whether Emmerich isn’t honestly just pulling our collective leg with the whole thing — gets kidnapped by bad guys who are, apparently, rounding up slave labor from half a planet away from where they need the slave laboring done and then walking them to where the work is. It’s crazy… but then D’Leh has to walk that same half of the planet to rescue her. Because he’ll be damned if he’s gonna let some guy steal what he had rightfully won as a prize for being such a successful mammoth hunter. (That would be the girl.)

If there’s a moment in this movie that’s original, I didn’t see it. But it can’t even steal properly. It’s like Apocalypto meets Stargate (the movie, not the TV show) with bits of Jurassic Park and Braveheart thrown in, cuz those were great movies, right? And yet somehow it’s all the absurd Chariots of the Gods stuff that ends up burning you with the stupid. D’Leh can, when the going gets tough, give a big, supposedly rousing, supposedly rallying speech to the ridiculous army he gathers around him about not wanting to live forever and making the other bastards die for their country or whatever, and yet his people — who are, remember, mammoth hunters, people who live near glaciers in the far north, people of the deep and endless cold — have no word for snow. “The white rain,” they call it.

Oh my god: the silly! It burns! It burns!

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MPAA: rated PG-13 for sequences of intense action and violence

viewed at a private screening with an audience of critics

official site | IMDb
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  • Brad

    …Damn. Camilla Belle is in this? Such was my admiration for her in The Quiet that I am sorely tempted to see this just for her. However, I will be strong, as I was to resist seeing the Last Legion merely for Aishwarya Rai. Thankfully I see no mention of Evolet’s martial arts skills, so it’ll be even easier this time.

    Seriously, thanks MaryAnn, I was on the fence about this one, as the visuals look cool in the trailer, but I can get my fix of those by watching 300 again.

  • Hdj

    I still kinda want to see this. I’ll see anything with prehistoric animals. You make it sound like it was worst then “Battlefield Earth”.

  • Sarah

    Ok, for background, I liked King Arthur for the bad history, and the visuals, and the silly fun, and the so bad it’s goodness. And Ray Winstone. Not necessarily in that order…but I can’t tell from this review if I’ll like this on the same terms. If I recall you liked neither; did you dislike them for the same reasons?

  • I knew that 10,000 B.C. was gonna be cheesy just from seeing the trailer… but I had no idea it was gonna be this cheesy.

    In retrospect, Roland Emmerich is looking more and more like a hack director who just happens to have access to good FX houses and big budgets… he’s kind of a rich man’s Uwe Boll. The last movie he did that was any good was Independence Day, and even now that movie is starting to look more and more campy.

    Harald Kloser wrote the score for The Thirteenth Floor, IIRC… Emmerich didn’t direct that movie, but he was involved in it somehow (producer, I think). Not sure what else he has done without consulting IMDb.

  • Mike Brady

    That’s a shame. I was hoping for a little more from that movie. Not expecting, but hoping. There’s potential for a good movie set in prehistoric time with a little creative storytelling, but there has to be some element of believability too.

    Maybe Brad Wright will pick up this one too and forge it into television gold. 10,000 BC: Atlantis?

  • Jason

    To be fair, I don’t think the movie was intended to be a period piece of any sort. I do believe this is based off a graphic novel.

  • Moe

    Michael Bay, meet your soulmate:

    Roland i-can’t-direct-a-film-without-$150-million Emmerich.

    Idependance Day and Day After Tommorow should have told you Emmrich is less concerned scientific facts than getting the most expensive CG on the screen, MaryAnne. ;)

  • dutchee

    uh… it’s CALLED “10,000 BC.” how could it NOT be a “period piece?” Further, while it is NOT based on (or “off”) a graphic novel, why would that explain the stupidity, here? To be fair, i believe that just about everyone with any aesthetic whatsoever thinks this movie is absolute garbage, regardless of “intent.”

  • MaryAnn

    I’ll see anything with prehistoric animals. You make it sound like it was worst then “Battlefield Earth”.

    BE is way funnier. This isn’t even worth it for the animals, which I love too, and was sorely disappointed in.

    uh… it’s CALLED “10,000 BC.” how could it NOT be a “period piece?”

    Exactly. Why make a movie set 12,000 years ago if you don’t want to tell a story set 12,000 years ago?

    Idependance Day and Day After Tommorow should have told you Emmrich is less concerned scientific facts than getting the most expensive CG on the screen, MaryAnne. ;)

    I *like* those movies. They’re awful, but they’re some clean cheesy fun. This one is just dumb. Yes, even compared to ID4 and DAT, it’s dumb.

    I do believe this is based off a graphic novel.

    What, graphic novels are excused from telling compelling stories?

    Ok, for background, I liked King Arthur for the bad history, and the visuals, and the silly fun, and the so bad it’s goodness. And Ray Winstone. Not necessarily in that order…but I can’t tell from this review if I’ll like this on the same terms. If I recall you liked neither; did you dislike them for the same reasons?

    No. *King Arthur* could have been a good movie if it had resisted the urge to be Hollywood. KA is thisclose to being maybe even a great movie with not all that much tweaking.

    This movie has no potential whatsoever for that. This is not so bad it’s good. It’s just bad.

  • Doa766

    I have said it many times: roland emmerich has cause more damage to movies that michael bay, and that’s saying a lot

  • I was under the impression this was an attempted remake of One Million B.C., only (snort) (titter) “more realistic” (guffaw).

  • MBI

    Cheesy? Epicly stupid? I have no idea what the hell you guys are talking about. My top adjective for this movie is BORING. It’s really, really BORING. I came in to this movie looking for something hilariously silly, and what I got was just numbing and dull. This review sets up expectations the movie can’t possibly meet.

  • TheGaucho

    Oh, and by the way: D’Leh is ‘Held’ backwards, which is German for ‘Hero’. So I guess this movie really IS stupid.

  • Gaucho, well-observed!

    Am I correct in assuming that every person in this movie speaks the same language? I mean, at least in Stargate, Emmerich and his partner-in-crime Dean Devlin had the people on the far-away planet speaking some derivation of ancient Egyptian and not English.

  • MaryAnn

    This review sets up expectations the movie can’t possibly meet.

    I bet no one has said that about anybody else’s review. :->

    Seriously, did you think you were gonna enjoy this? If so, I apologize…

    Am I correct in assuming that every person in this movie speaks the same language?

    No. There are multiple languages. Fortunately, D’Leh’s father went off on a quest years before during which he taught his tongue to foreigners, so D’Leh is all set with the communicatin’ and stuff.

  • Drave

    Just saw it today, along with The Bank Job, which I quite enjoyed, and Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, which tingled the same parts of my soul that Down With Love did. Sadly, I must agree that 10,000 BS is criminally retarded, and not even in an entertaining way.

  • Abiaka

    Give it this, though. Any movie that can be this boring while showing you an attack by homocidal ostriches deserves a Special Achievement Award for Boring.

  • Erik Goodwyn

    Ok, so now you’re joining everyone else and bashing this one, too–and so I must ask, how is this movie different from the 13th warrior and Pathfinder? Sheesh, was it really that bad, people? Maybe I just have an easier time suspending disbelief or something, or I have a weakness for the ‘archetypal hero’ story, but I thought 10000 BC was fun, with some great photography. And for the love of pete, why does everyone always complain about using english? WHO CARES! As long as it’s not distracting, which it wasn’t. Is it a perfect movie? NO. But give it a rest, people. I’ve seen way worse, like say the Fantastic Four, or Daddy Day Camp, for example.

  • Drave

    Personally, I didn’t think much of Pathfinder either, actually. 13th Warrior is good cheese, and it has a real story, as well as characters with some depth. In this case, I didn’t find the English annoying, because I always assume that it isn’t literal English; merely the storyteller telling the story to us in our language. What did bother me was that all the other tribes spoke the same not-English language. Of course, that is the smallest of many, many complaints I had with it. Saying that the badness of 10,000 BS is nothing compared to Fantastic Four and Daddy Day Camp is true, but it’s sort of missing the point. It’s like saying “You shouldn’t complain about breaking your arm, because getting killed is way worse!”

  • Moe

    Ouch, MaryAnne, you liked Independance Day?
    Geeks are supposed to feel like Mulder does about it in The X File movie. ;)

  • I have to thank you, MaryAnn — without your review about how god-awful this movie is, I might have gone into it with hopefulness when my Father called and begged me to join him yesterday. As it stands, I was able to enjoy the movie a little because my expectations were so low.

  • I saw 10,000 BC this weekend, and uck. You were right, MaryAnn.

    I think this might have been a good Sci-Fi Channel original movie or something — because if it were, I wouldn’t mind the suck so much. (Because I wouldn’t have paid 9 bucks for a ticket!)

    Also – I know they didn’t have contact lenses in 10,000 B.C.

  • Carles

    I dunno understand why Hollywood is spending such amount of money to make films like that…
    I gotta recognize that I liked StarGate…well chessy indeedy but not so bad…
    I’ve to see this movie.

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