10,000 BC

Cast:
Steven Strait as D’Leh
Camilla Belle as Evolet
Cliff Curtis as Tic’Tic
Joel Virgel as Nakudu
Affif Ben Badra as Warlord
Mo Zinal as Ka’Ren
Nathanael Baring as Baku
Mona Hammond as Old Mother
Marco Khan as One-Eye
Reece Ritchie as Moha
Joel Fry as Lu’kibu
Omar Sharif as Narrator
Kristian Beazley as D’Leh’s Father
Junior Oliphant as Tudu
Louise Tu’u as Baku’s Mother

Summary:
Despite a predictable plot and flat acting, “10,000 BC” manages to be somewhat entertaining thanks to its elaborate production design, cool action sequences, and CGI prehistoric animals.

Story:
In “10,000 BC,” a group of hunters struggle to survive despite a lack of migrating woolly mammoths. But their problems are greatly increased when they find Evolt, a young girl who brings warning of invading ‘demons’.

As the tribe readies themselves over the years to face the ‘demons’, D’Leh falls in love with Evolet. Just as they are about to be married, the ‘demons’ arrive and are revealed to be slavers from a faraway land. They capture Evolt and a number of the tribe and take them away. D’Leh, Tic’Tic, and others follow in hot pursuit. But along the way they must face prehistoric dangers the likes of which they’ve never seen.

“10,000 BC” is rated PG-13 for sequences of intense action and violence.

What Worked:
Right before I went to the screening of “10,000 BC,” I hit a couple of comic shops and mentioned that I was going to see the film. I was greeted by eye rolling and universal declarations that it would suck. So as I entered the film, I was preparing for the worst. But as the story progressed, I never found it hitting the level of suckage that I expected. Sure, it had some problems, but in the end I was entertained.

Roland Emmerich has crafted a story that’s basically a combination of “Apocalypto” and “Stargate.” It follows the “Apocalypto” formula of an advanced society stealing slaves and transporting them through the wilderness to an amazing pre-historic city. It follows the “Stargate” formula in that this advanced society has pyramids, it has a mysterious ruler who is hailed as a god, and it shows primitive characters running through the desert in revolt. If you liked either of those films, you may find yourself being a little more receptive to “10,000 BC” than other moviegoers.

One of the notable things about “10,000 BC” is its use of CGI extinct animals. We’re treated to scenes of hunters stalking a herd of wooly mammoths. (This scene is arguably the best of the film.) We see giant prehistoricÂ…turkeysÂ…killing hunters like the “Jurassic Park” raptors. We see a saber-toothed tiger facing down our hero. (Unfortunately, the tiger is the weakest of the CGI creatures.) Whenever these creatures appear on the screen, this film is at its most entertaining.

What Didn’t Work:
“10,000 BC” is your typical “hero’s journey” story. A boy from humble beginnings fights evil and becomes a hero revered by all. That formula has been followed by everything from Greek myth to “Star Wars.” Unfortunately, here it results in a rather predictable film. You can guess who lives, who dies, and how it will end pretty easily. This just leaves the visual spectacle and production design to entertain you.

The story also has a lot of magical elements in it. At times the story seems reality based and all this magic business just seems like it’s in the character’s heads. Other times the film implies that there’s real magic going on with these prophecies, connection to animals, etc. I think “10,000 BC” would have been stronger if they simply eliminated the magical element.

Unfortunately, while all the actors look great in their respective roles, they don’t do much to make their characters unique or appealing. Steven Strait as D’Leh and Camilla Belle as Evolet both look beautiful as prehistoric hunters (with perfect teeth), but they’re given little else to do. They needed more humorous or character defining moments to make the audience bond with them more and care about them as they were put in jeopardy. And the few moments where they get very sentimental talking about stars and hearts and love, it kind of falls flat.

Finally, I can’t help but mention some audience reaction to this film. There was a batch of guys sitting behind me who were in their late teens or early twenties. Any time a character appeared in a bizarre costume or they said an odd tribal name, these guys would snicker and make snarky comments. Chalk it up to American cultural ignorance or whatever, but I bet you can expect this type of reaction in every theater in the US. It’s annoying.

The Bottom Line:
If you don’t overanalyze it, “10,000 BC” can be an entertaining film. If you like CGI creatures attacking people, you’ll find it worth checking out. Just don’t go in expecting an Academy Award winning film.

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