10,000 B.C. [PG-13]
10,000 B. C. confirms something I’ve always suspected – ludicrous Hollywood plots in fact pre-date civilization.
There’s little question left after watching two hours of this pre-historic action-adventure, as its pelt-clad heroes wile their way through jungles of sabre-tooth tigers and musty plot development. As long as the story sticks to the rescue-the-girl basics, it can at least deliver passable CGI action sequences. But the film’s dialogue taught me something new and valuable about pre-historic life. I didn’t know cheese had been invented.
The adventure sets off as horse-mounted warriors raid a glacier-age village, leading off its people for slave labor far away. An escaped Mammoth hunter named D’Leh (Steven Strait) pursues, out to free the love of his life (Camilla Belle). He makes common cause with a group of foreign tribesmen, who believe he is the fulfillment of their prophecy. They tell him of a giant city beyond the dunes. There he leads an army of men hoping to free their people from slavery.
For being pre-historic, the tribe has admirably mastered the English language, although they can’t quite further indulge the audience by shaking off their Barbarian accents. As they don’t know how to write, they have not yet performed the courtesy of mapping their whereabouts. We do know it’s in lands where you can move quickly from icy gorges to thick jungle to rocky desert to sand dunes. Snow-capped mountains turn into predator-infested jungles in the space of about a football field. Apparently the sun behaved differently in those days, too.
Their odorous appearance and exaggerated customs asks an important question – can you offend an ethnicity that never actually existed? I can’t tell you what the answer is. Even if this pre-historic action-adventure holds an answer, then it deserves to be buried in the sands of time.
Master of Disaster Roland Emmerich might be decreasing his scale. After destroying most of the world in Independence Day and most of the world in The Day After Tomorrow, here he resigns himself to wiping out only a single ancient civilization. Perhaps this is his idea of making a more intimate picture. The early action sequences, such as a mastodon hunt and a rumble through the jungle with giant nipping and gnawing buzzards, are fairly exciting. But the final battle, on what appears to be an ancient Egyptian pyramid construction site, is a mess of masses running mindlessly. Not very enthralling, unless you’re into watching marathons.
The film lifts the plot from Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto. But while Gibson’s film is a strange mixture of B-movie and actual interest in Mayan culture, 10,000 B.C. is a low-end cousin aimed squarely for the brutal sensibilities of those modern Barbarians, the mall-grazing teen-agers. But even they will likely come away from this hunt disappointed.