by Jef Burnham
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With his latest adventure epic, director Roland Emmerich (Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow) manages to achieve nothing less than glorious mediocrity. Filled with historical inaccuracies and laughable employment of artistic license, 10,000 B.C. barely reaches a negligible level of excitement. No amount of wooly mammoths or saber-tooth cats could save this wretched thing.
A whiny prehistoric man named D’Leh (pronounced: duh-lay), who just so happens to be the subject of every prophecy ever, must save his girlfriend from the clutches of first, a really tall guy, then really tall birds, and eventually enslavement by another really tall guy in a dress. One minute, we watch D’Leh fight some ancient beastie (which Emmerich illogically pulls from as far back as 49 million years ago) and the next, we see the pyramids as built by the sole survivor of Atlantis, which I found to be particularly inane. The majority of the film actually takes place in vast deserts, which is slightly confusing given that the Ice Age ended around 9,000 B.C. But these are just a few of the innumerable inaccuracies in the film, which I won’t delve into too deeply. Suffice it to say that if you watch the BBC’s excellent documentary series, Walking with Prehistoric Beasts, you’ll see that fossil records discount almost every event in the 10,000 B.C.
The film has no real sense of cohesion. In 109 minutes, they change locale and climate (though it’s the Ice Age) some 20 times and each subsequent scene feels disjointed from the last, consisting primarily of D’Leh and company saying the same things they did in the last scene to new people in a new location. Structurally, it’s a mess.
While television programs are equipped with closed captioning for the hearing impaired, Emmerich has considerately supplied the audience with narration for the logically impaired. For instance, for those of you unable to tell that a character is not eating with characters he is hundreds of yards away from, well, the narration is there to tell you that he is indeed not eating with them. This intrusive narration is supplied embarrassingly by Omar Sharif.
The creatures look alright, save for the saber-tooth tiger (I have to point out here that they were actually not tigers at all, but Emmerich pasted saber-teeth onto a CG tiger, so I’m forced to refer to it as such), which is an enormous disappointment since it disappears after sniffing D’Leh a couple times. The movie also has a number of slow-motion CG sequences that look absolutely terrible.
Since the best part of the movie for me was when the mammoths came on and a two-year-old across from me yelled out, “Elephants!” I suggest not wasting your time or money on this one. Instead, use the same money to rent Walking with Prehistoric Beasts. You’ll feel better about yourself.
Jef Burnham is a writer and film critic living in Chicago.
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