10,000 B.C - Mania.com

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Mania Grade: C

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  • Movie: 10,000 B.C
  • Format: Theatrical Release
  • Starring: Steven Strait, Camilla Belle, Cliff Curtis
  • Written By: Roland Emmerich, Harald Kloser
  • Directed By: Roland Emmerich
  • Distributor: Warner Bros.

10,000 B.C

Clan of the Cave Bear meets Apocalypto. with a hint of Stargate, to no effect.

By Abbie Bernstein     March 06, 2008

Steven Strait and Camilla Bell in 10,000 B.C(2008).
© Warner Bros.

Watching 10,000 B.C., you may very well get the sensation (unless you normally only watch art house films and have been dragged to the movie by a more pop-culture-savvy friend) that you’ve been watching variations on this story since mammoths really did roam the Earth. A young man – here D’Leh (Steven Strait) – member of a small but noble tribe, doubts his leadership abilities but rises to the occasion when his village is ransacked and his people are killed and kidnapped, including the woman he loves (Camilla Belle). The young man sets out in pursuit of the attackers, meeting strange people and finding himself warring against a much more advanced civilization.

So what makes 10,000 B.C. different from other tales in this vein? Sad to say, not so much as you’d notice. The New Zealand locations are gorgeous, and director Roland Emmerich stages some great special effects shots, such as D’Leh and his comrades sneaking through the grass among a herd of mastodons. Then again, there are some very misjudged effects, such as a crucial-to-the-plot CGI saber-tooth tiger that simply does not appear to be at one with the other elements in its scenes, albeit that the tiger on its own moves very well. There are a number of touches of surprising visual beauty, but the characters are drawn simply and without nuance. Belle, a good actress, is wasted as a character who is shown to do so little that when she finally rises to the occasion, it’s hard to feel anything. Likewise, the script by Emmerich and Harald Kloser has various characters assuring D’Leh that he’s destined for great things, he’s his father’s son, his father was a good man and so on. Each of these exchanges is done solemnly and has the effect of making the action stall while we get a speech instead of nuance or plot twists or at least a good creature encounter. The best of these in the movie are reminiscent, in a good way, of Ray Harryhausen when the spectacle of man vs. giant astonishing beast was a thrill in its own right; the worst are more like scenes out of bad cable TV movies.

Strait is a game actor and acquits himself well, and Cliff Curtis gives credibility to the tribal leader. Ben Badra does a good job in what is the closest thing the movie has to a complicated character, a warlord who is brutal but willing to risk much for love.

For Stargate fans, there are a few tantalizing threads of possible connection between that film (Emmerich directed the original feature) and this one, but these are inconclusive, a build-up to a revelation that doesn’t have much resonance one way or the other. One goes into 10,000 B.C. hoping it will be a fun action spectacular, or at least spectacularly cheesy. It’s neither – there are occasional flashes of visual inspiration amid long stretches of non-innovative storytelling and characters who don’t greatly engage us. This just isn’t an epic for the ages.


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miko34 3/5/2008 10:29:07 PM
Roland Emmerich has great story ideas that somehow all fall short in execution. They are all fluff with no substance. If he just hired better writers to do his scripts, I think he'd be a lot better. Oh, and I'm sure humans looked like runway models twelve thousand years ago...
laforcer69@yahoo.com_home 3/6/2008 1:32:39 AM
Miko...Agreed, if only he would let a good screen writer take control as he over sees the development of it would result in a much deeper story, either way I am going to go watch this with my Mother and son and see for myself what it's all about...
sportwarrior 3/6/2008 3:45:37 AM
I didn't think this movie would be any good. That being said, I AM curious about these "tantalizing threads of possible connection" with Stargate... Can anyone spoil those for me? -------- Nevermind. http://www.scifi.com/scifiwire/index.php?category=0&id=49090
goatartist 3/6/2008 5:40:37 AM
I could have written this exact same review the minute I saw the first Teaser. What a stupid movie. It never even had a chance of getting me into the theatre. Although, several years from now, when it's on cable, I'm sure I will sit through it, commercials and all.
hanso 3/6/2008 6:19:06 AM
Is the new Dark Knight trailer really going to be attached to this film?
akiraakobus 3/6/2008 7:22:24 AM
Well I've wanted to see this for a while, and I still think it looks good, so I and I'd assume a lot of other people will be seeing this, this weekend.
captaincraig 3/6/2008 9:40:35 AM
Saw this at a sneak last night and I grade it a C. Not horrid but not great. Knowing it was by the Stargate people I did think this could've been a rewritten prequel idea near the end. Its just a mediocre film I hate to say. However, if your torn between watching a 2hr reality show event or seeing this, go to the cinema and catch this its better than any reality tv dreck thats on. Re:Dark Knight trailer - they had the first one attached(with Joker) last night but it could've been a placeholder I suppose for the new Two-Face themed one. I saw the Get Smart trailer with Steve Carrell and that looked good. I also heard the new Incredible Hulk movie was to have a trailer attached to this but we didn't get it at the sneak preview.
momitchell7 3/6/2008 12:12:04 PM
Based on this review, the movie sound exactly like Mel Gibson's Apocalypto, but with Wooly Mammoths and sabre toothed tigres. Typical Emmerich - over the top hack material, with big (disappointing) special effects and ultimately a total waste of time and money. "They suckered me with those damn fancy trailers again!.."
gauleyboy420 3/6/2008 3:58:20 PM
Except, Apacalypto was y'know good...
miko34 3/7/2008 10:16:21 AM
What a shocker... Another bad Emmerich movie with pretty things in it. http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/10000_bc/ ... ....
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