Thursday, March 27, 2008

10,000 BC

Don't go see this movie. Even if you, like me, have a vaguely career-related excuse to go see it, and an interest in the subject matter, don't do it. Rent it, later, and you can have a good laugh, but whomever you sucker into going to the theater with you isn't going to be happy about paying for it.

I admit that I knew it would be bad, and went anyway. A better title would have been, as one of my movie-goer companions commented afterward, "Stuff We Saw on National Geographic and Thought Might Have Happened at Some Point in Human History." There was no scientific or historic adviser, in any case. But I knew that would probably be true, too, and I went anyway. This movie is so wrong that I can't even go into detail without spending far too much time on it than it deserves, and there are some issues regarding racist portrayals of kitchy Native American-like culture and an inability of African groups, who are apparently a few thousand years ahead of the main characters anyway, to deal with slavers (and of course one white guy makes it all better), but those probably aren't even worth discussion.

Some of my favorites:

- Good enunciation = proto-language and/or exotic dialect
- Hunters manage to walk out of a snow-covered mountainous terrain and into a rainforest, without losing sight of those snow-capped peaks
- One group has domesticated horses, bows/arrows, and metalworking while some other poor slobs are still hunting mammoths
- They walk out of the mountains, through a rainforest, and into Africa..?
- Africa has domesticated plants, including corn, and sends that technology back with the mammoth hunters; the plants apparently do fine up north
- Mammoths are in use as pyramid-building labor in what has to be an Egypt analog (of course! Why didn't we think of that before!)

Really, I have no idea if these were correctly-portrayed mammoths, and not mastodons. They are referred to in the movie as "mammut", which is the mastodon genus name, but they're furry enough that I assume they're supposed to be mammoths. I am a fan of the portrayal of the terror bird, even though they had to stretch a few hundred thousand years to make it applicable (not that they had much of a problem with that, I'm sure); terror birds should be in more movies.

Some of the effects were fun, particularly if you're interested in Egyptian history or the recreation of Plio-Pleistocene megafauna. That almost made it worth it, but not quite.


Eric Reuter said...

Thought you might enjoy these choice comments from other reviews:

"In the film's most interesting sequence (not saying much, really), the blind man is brought up on a slab from beneath the earth, where he has spent countless years cooped up in cramped quarters with nothing to keep him entertained. After spending two hours in a darkened theater watching 10,000 B.C., I could relate."

"..even if every ridiculous detail of 10,000 B.C. were accurate enough to pass for museum artifacts, the film itself would remain a smoldering piece of month-old cheese the likes of which the box office has rarely seen."

"You always know where you are with Roland Emmerich, the director of Independence Day and The Day After Tomorrow. It's a place called Stupid."

And that last one was from a favorable review...

Liberal Arts Lady said...

Those are great; the second is so true. :) One of my favorites, which I can't find now, went something like, "Apparently life 12,000 years ago was short, brutish and poorly-plotted"

I know I take these things way too seriously. ;) I can't help it, a part of me really wants to see a good historic recreation that's not either mind-blowingly boring or really really poorly done.

Eric Reuter said...

Wait...what about Ice Age? The humans are really good in that one, the actors spent months learning to speak Ancient Grunt.

Liberal Arts Lady said...

I love Ice Age (and hey at least those guys looked more like Neanderthals), but I think it's because it's set up as a comedy. If 10,000 BC took itself less seriously it would probably be great.