Movie review: ‘10,000 BC’
Vail CO, Colorado
EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado ” A friend who hadn’t seen “10,000 BC” told me that, judging from the previews, “it looks like ‘Apocalypto’ for dumb people.”
Although the film begins with a tribe of Neanderthals chanting in a tent and attempting to spear mammoths in a style not unlike the Ewoks (the “ancient” civilization we most associate with the big screen), the plot in “10,000 BC” does, in fact, thicken.
That’s not to say you’ll be on the edge of your seat chewing on your hand.
This movie, like writer/director Roland Emmerich’s other efforts (“Day After Tomorrow,” “Godzilla,” “Stargate”), is really not the most riveting or complex you’ll ever see. Also, the acting leaves something to be desired, but nobody can say it’s not entertaining. And really … how many actors can convincingly portray a caveman romance, anyway? Them are big rawhide slippers to fill.
Regardless of your feelings about prehistoric social issues and love stories ” or preposterous, imaginary ones ” you’re bound to get somewhat drawn into the drama. You’ll even laugh a few times … whether that was the director’s intention or not.
The first chuckle comes with the upbeat tenor narration by Hollywood veteran Omar Sharif. For a moment or two, you might think you’re watching “How The Grinch Stole Christmas.” Then, right when you’re expecting the cameras to pan across the landscape into Whoville, you’ll find yourself eyeing the circle of dwellings shared by the film’s frontline ancient tribe. Of course, everyone there is sporting the standard look of the early human race ” dreadlocks, loincloth, bone jewelry … Luckily the characters don’t speak in grunts and buzzes, but they do have an odd Neanderthal twang.
“10,000 BC” is the story of D’Leh (Steven Strait), who first appears as a young boy, alienated by others his age because his father, the chief, has presumably deserted the tribe to eek out a better life for himself and leave his people behind to fend for themselves.
A beautiful, blue-eyed child ” Evolet (Camilla Belle) ” is brought into the circle after her tribe is apparently pillaged by slave traders and D’Leh falls in love with her. We know this, not because either character is developed whatsoever, but because they exchange knowing looks once or twice and D’Leh tells Evolet that he thinks of her like the stars … or something. When it comes time for D’Leh and other adult men of the tribe to compete for chief duties after defacto leader Tic Tic steps down, the coveted white spear comes with the victory, as does blue-eyed Evolet. All the warrior has to do is drop one of the giant mammoths.
The thundering sequences of mammoths on the move are impressive, but one can’t help but being reminded of Snuffleupagus, because they are, well, kind of cute. Still, the tribe is hungry and must kill one, so all the young men, clad in loin cloths and bulging muscles, get into position with their spears to spook the herd. They drive the herd into a narrow valley where others can throw a net over a straggler. Naturally, D’Leh is the one who takes down the beast single-handedly, and although he claims the white spear and his “woman,” he later confesses that he didn’t win fair and square. While this is under debate, a group of slave traders on horseback rattle into the village and kidnap everybody who will be useful in the large, major project of the era ” building the Egyptian pyramids, of course.
Evolet is among those captured and D’Leh, Tic Tic and a handful of others set across the land to rescue her and the rest of their people.
Along the journey, which begins in what looks like the Andes or Himalayas and inconceivably takes the travelers across the African desert, the rescuers meet another ancient tribe whose people have been taken as slaves. They also meet a saber-toothed tiger, and of course, God.
No need to elaborate on the mysterious, falsetto soothsayer whom the slaves keep in the ground, or the clairvoyant old lady in the tribe, the albino children who work for the Almighty, or how the Almighty himself ” although its hard to tell for sure under the silk shroud he wears ” is a dead ringer for the Emperor in Star Wars.
Like we said, there’s a lot going on in “10,000 BC.” It’s not all hunting, gathering and primitive cave art, oh no. Just don’t expect it to all come together in any coherent or believable fashion. Don’t expect to see any Oscars out of it and don’t expect to be moved to tears (although anyone with a weakness for prehistoric cheese just might). But laugh you will.
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Are we seeing more bears because there are more bears on the valley floor, or because we’re all spending more time at home? It could be a bit of both.