After watching the preview, one cannot really know what 10,000 B.C. is about. It leaves people wondering whether the film even has a story. This could, in any other case, reflect badly on the preview makers, however, with this movie, it only demonstrates the marketing team’s astuteness. Obviously, the people responsible for the trailer, after seeing the movie, realize that its storytelling is weak, at best. They understand that the writers’ attempt to revisit the more classic storytelling archetype fails miserably as the script’s lack of nuance and emotion make the film seem like a parody of what it really aspires to be.
From the very first frame of 10,000 B.C., it is obvious that the filmmakers are not interested in historical, anthropological or geographical accuracy. Its portrayal of prehistoric humankind is tainted with modern prejudice, and anchored in narrow-minded moralistic values. Whereas the story has all the elements of a fantastical epic such as prophecies, clairvoyants, monsters and a hero on a quest for love, its little attention to detail and its superfluous rendering of the story and characters reflect on the filmmakers’ biggest flaw: idiocy.
10,000 B.C. is a movie with an oversized budget, created by filmmakers with undersized brains. Their interpretation of humanity in prehistory goes as such: the good folk are in the majority Caucasian and speak English, although in a variety of different accents (Indian, Irish, British or Pakistani depending on the actor and/or the scene), the tribe that is defenseless against its fate and awaits for Caucasians to save the day are the Africans who speak their own dialect but can speak English if necessary, and finally, the ugly slave-running, backstabbing, womanizing and dishonorable villains are of course the Arabs, who speak their own harsh dialect and nothing else, with digitally enhanced voices made to make them sound like demons (much like the little girl’s voice when possessed in The Exorcist). Let me be clear, I am not vulgarizing the script; this is an accurate and honest description of the movie’s characters.
Roland Emmerich has described the Egyptian pyramids, when interviewed about this movie, as ‘arrogant’. His self-proclaimed disdain for the Middle Eastern culture is part of his own opinion, which he is entitled to, however he makes it evident in this movie. His evil tribe, the dirty Arabs, is clearly inspired by the Egyptian empire. Its holy city is adorned with pyramids and Sphinx-like monuments. Consequently, the Egyptian empire is offensively demonized as 10,000 B.C. reduces their Pharaohs to evil monsters, and gratuitously interprets their culture as one of abusiveness and corruption. If you want to create a world never seen before, with a surreal feel, why ground your movie with modern racism? It should be the last thing on the filmmakers’ minds. Obviously the makers of the trailer agree, as none of this is visible or transmitted in their final cut.
Instead, the trailer emphasizes on the special effects, notably the sequences involving the prehistoric animals. In fact, they seem to be the film’s main drive; another smart move on their part. The animals in this movie are stunning, and far surpass The Golden Compass’s polar bears and any creature in The Chronicles of Narnia . They look extremely real, and the action sequences that involve them are gripping and pretty flawless. This movie could very well have been, in terms of special effects, the new generation’s Jurassic Park. Sadly, there are only three sequences with prehistoric animals, lasting approximately seven minutes each; in other words, twenty-one minutes of bliss out of one hundred and nine, or better yet, eighty-eight minutes of bogus dialogue, bad acting and empty storytelling for the privileged viewers’ enjoyment.
As usual, Emmerich brings out the worst of his actors. If you are a slightly unknown actor, he will make sure to bury your career. Steven Strait, our lead actor in this endeavor, is painfully bad, in a very pretty way. Cliff Curtis makes you wonder whether his fifteen years of movie acting serve a purpose and Camilla Belle is useless as the gorgeous blue-eyed damsel-in-distress with four lines (but lots of pouting).
Historically inept, anthropologically offensive and emotionally bare, this movie is very much like all of Emmerich’s previous films, except much more offensive. The wonderful special effects, 10,000 B.C.’s only redeeming factor, are too few to save this disaster of a film from its one hundred and nine minute self. A prehistoric film done by cavemen.
Review by Ralph Arida