Monday, March 10, 2008

10,000 BC - Mammoths! Tigers! Aliens! Oh my.

Hey everyone - surviving another Monday? Had a fun if not very random weekend, but what I'll share with you now is a review of the latest big-time blockbuster hype-fest, 10,000 BC. Enjoy, fanboys.

10,000 B.C. - Review

- The fun thing about the movies of Roland Emmerich is that, you've got to give the guy credit, he always shoots for the moon. Unlike some other directors who are all about being cool, hip, and edgy, seemingly every movie that Roland makes seems to earnestly be trying to be a big, old-fashioned, Greatest Movie Ever Made. The problem is that the director's grand ambitions are often matched up with fairly awful scripts, and when that happens, the result is something like 10,000 B.C. - a movie that, visually, is huge and sweeping, but is, ultimately, as Harry on Ain't It Cool put it - "blissfully retarded."

Maybe that's why these movies are perhaps best enjoyed when one is twelve. I often tell people that when, as a preteen, I first saw Independence Day on one sunny summer afternoon, I was totally enthralled, and quickly deemed it the greatest movie ever. Would I say that now? No, definitely not, even if I still have an ID4 T-shirt that was once my most prized piece of clothing in seventh grade or so ... But still, there is a certain cheesy magic to Independence Day that has been missing from most of Emmerich's subsequent films. For all it's corniness, that movie had fun, had humor, had memorable characters, all wrapped around exciting drama and an uber-threat of aliens hellbent on the destruction of the human race. As a movie to satiate the action-movie fantasies of your actual or inner twelve year old self, you really couldn't ask for much more.

Now, 10,000 BC comes along and it has, on the surface, that same type of over-the-top premise that is the kind of stuff that blockbuster movie fans can't get enough of: ancient civilizations, mythical beasts, and cavewomen. What more can one ask for?

Well - a plot and characters, for one thing. Every character in this movie is as cookie-cutter as can be. Honestly, The Smurfs had more well-defined characters than this movie, and about the same male-to-female ratio. It's almost understandable why our hero would traverse many lands to find his lost love - she is, apparently, the only female under 75 in their entire tribe. What a catch. It's pretty absurd - for all the expectations one might have about this movie having some epic plot, the whole thing is remarkably simplistic -- it makes the plot of Conan The Barbarian look like Ulysses. Basically, an evil tribe somewhat akin to the ancient Egyptions, who may or may not be aliens (really), and who are called "4-legged demons" because (sooo exciting) they ride horses, storm our little village of dreadlocked cavepeople, kill a bunch of dudes, and kidnap a bunch of others, including the one girl who our hero is really into. So the one caveman then goes with his older mentor (who you know from Scene 1 will die melodramatically sometime before the final act), recruits a bunch of people from other tribes (they find kinship despite being different races! Awwww ...), and leads an assault on the evil alien-Egyptians, who are up to really bad stuff, such as building giant pyramids and ... stuff. Can you tell that this is all pretty Shakespearian?

I guess the biggest sin of this movie, as many have pointed out, is that, surprisingly, pretty boring. Many of Emmerich's movies have that same "blissfully retarded" thing going for them, but at the least they've had some semi-spectacular action. This one has tons of talking, and the dialogue is mostly ver, very painful. In an attempt to sound gravitas-infused, the narration by Omar Sharif says things like "and the white rain fell across the mountaintops" in an attempt to sound profound. Um, it's snow, dude. Just say it. But yeah, this movie has a ton of talking. Conan the Barbarian had little talking, and that helped make for a great, atmospheric film. This one is all about talking, and all about walking. And yet, unlike, say, Lord of the Rings, all of the walking and traversing in this movie never alludes to any real sense of scale or scope. Seemingly, our band of revolutionaries goes from frozen tundras to arid deserts to dense jungles in the span of a few hours, with little sense that these guys are on a glove-trotting journey. Another big weakness is the total lack of cool villains. In 300, Xerxes was one hateable, effeminate bastard. Who wasn't eagerly awaiting for Leonidas to strike down that pompous jerk? 10,000 BC's villain is mostly unseen - an 8-ft tall maybe-alien guy who basically does nothing and gets unceremoniously struck down by a single spear to the chest (huge spoilers, I know - sorry!).

There's also some random stuff about a magical sabretooth tiger, an old witchdoctor woman named Old Mother, who the movie cuts to like every 5 seconds for no good reason, and oh yeah, these giant ostrich creatures who look EXACTLY like the raptors in Jurassic Park except slightly bird-ier. It really is like Emmerich took his plot and visual inspiration from a bunch of movies like Conan, Jurassic Park, and 300, and just mashed everything together into one giant mess of a movie. You'll get a few cool f/x shots, one or two fun moments ... but this movie is just so all over the place and weirdly paced. Plot elements come and go, the art design is completely sporadic, and the world it creates - a confounding mix of history and legend, has no real consistency and never immerses you the way it should. I'm still interested enough in Emmerich as a filmmaker that I'd love to see his epic visual stle paired with a truly great script ... but until that happens, he seems to only be descending ever deeper into his own unique style of sometimes-amusing but ultimately headache-inducing brand of mediocrity.

My Grade: C

- Alright - I'll leave you to chew on that for now. Now, what the heck is 2012?


  1. Hi Danny,
    I came across your blog and was wondering if it is OK if I use a couple of sentences from this part of your experience in London in my article on Passover seders around the world. And is it OK to use your name and the "Goodman" name only (no first names for them)?
    Thanks so much!
    Susie Davidson
    Brookline, Mass. (I was just in LA)

    Back when I did my semester in London, Danny Baram of Hollywood one of my friends and roommates from BU was lucky enough to have cousins living just outside of London - in a very nice, very Jewish suburb called Edgeware. It was in this way that I met the Goodman family, who at the time was nice neough to have us over for dinner on multiple occasions, for meals, for weekends, and even Passover seder. At the time, it was truly awesome and infinitely rewarding to befriend a British family (and a British Jewish family no less), and to really learn about the cultural differences as well as the similiarities.

  2. 10000 BC, the name itself so sizzling!! Its a great adventure! Compared to other "adventure" films it has no silly jokes. I think the acting was pretty good and sure the dialogs are not sharp as in other movies, but hey: they come from the mouth of tribesmen, so the dialogs are exactly how they should be. you can watch it from here,go ahead and Download Free 10000 BC Movie only in a single click....