No doubt writers Harald Kloser and Roland Emmerich (who also directed) had grand plans for 10,000 B.C.. Spectacular visuals supporting a tall tale set in the ancient world point to a movie with epic aspirations along the lines of Apocalypto and Gladiator. Unfortunately, they didn’t do their “homework”, as the movie is littered with inconsistencies and general annoyances that keep the movie far from the company it wishes it keep.
The story itself, at its base, is basic love story between hunter D’Leh (Steven Strait) and prophet Evolet (Camilla Belle) of the Yagahl tribe. To win her hand he must earn the white spear (grants him the power of tribe chieftain) by killing a mammoth, which he does in a not so glorified fashion. But apparently our cavemen ancestors suffered from morality issues, because D’Leh turns in the spear vowing to earn it properly. And what a setup that turns out to be because shortly thereafter raiders sweep through his tribe’s camp taking with them able bodied men and women (including Evolet). So starts the epic journey across mountains, through deep rain forests and scorching deserts. Along the way he amasses warriors from other tribes determined to get their loved ones back too. This leads to a climax which for all intents and purposes has the makings of something special.
It isn’t though.
First, let me start run through a few of 10,000 B.C.‘s other shortcomings. The most notable is the lack of any historical accuracy which led to a big believability problem for me. I’m no historian, but:
Was I supposed to believe mammals and dinosaurs roamed the earth together?
Pyramids in 10,000 B.C.? I’m relatively sure man wasn’t building giant testaments to his greatness that far back.
I could be wrong, but were wild animals domesticated then? I thought domestication came much later.
I didn’t know cavemen had such perfect hygiene – clean teeth and shaven faces?
But let’s be clear, no one claimed the movie was a history lesson (me included), this problem was noticeable and compounded by the fact it wasn’t entertaining. 300 took a great many liberties too, but it was fun as hell to watch. This film has cheesy dialogue and unmemorable characters. When a great defining moment to instill strength and belief in his character presents itself, D’Leh simply says “I’m older than I look” when questioned as to why tribes warriors should follow him – where was the Braveheart bravado damnit? And back to the ending — never have I seen an opportunity so large missed. Instead of a battle akin to that in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, we’re given a very tired and run-of-the-mill fight that I’ve seen done better on hundreds of films.
But all this doesn’t subtract from the basis that people will be drawn to see 10,000 B.C. based solely on the visuals. Here, I cannot find fault with the movie. The landscapes are incredible to look at – majestic mountains, dense forests and sweeping deserts are all done with care. I was equally impressed with the pyramids in their various levels of construction. I especially thought it was interesting to see how the set creators imagined them built. As for the creatures inhibiting this prehistoric earth; the mammoths looked great but I felt the saber tooth tiger (known as “spear tooth”) could have been modeled and brought to life better, as well as have had a bigger part in the movie (show me an advertisement that didn’t put it at the forefront). I’m still confused by the ferocious ostrich-like dinosaurs – they didn’t look particularly lifelike and seemed like an afterthought to be used as filler for a slow portion of the flick.
So my final feeling on 10,000 B.C. is that it didn’t live up to my expectations. Not nearly. I expected a hardcore adventure film filled to the brim with crude and violent action, not a prehistoric love story. Had I better insight into what it was actually, I would have found a better love story to watch (remember Caveman?). Don’t let the fact that this is the hottest film on opening weekend fool you (no doubt it’ll make its money back and then some). Don’t be a lemming, it’s really not all it is cracked up to be.