movie film review | chris tookey

10,000 BC/ 10,000 B.C.

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  10,000 BC/ 10,000 B.C. Review
Tookey's Rating
5 /10
Average Rating
3.44 /10
Steven Strait , Camilla Belle, Cliff Curtis
Full Cast >

Directed by: Roland Emmerich
Written by: Roland Emmerich, Harald Kloser

Released: 2008
Origin: US/ New Zealand
Colour: C
Length: 105

A mammoth self-indulgence.
Reviewed by Chris Tookey

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Roland Emmerich loves to make big, dumb movies, and though this may not be his biggest, itís certainly his dumbest. Yes, more preposterous than The Patriot. Goofier than Godzilla. Sillier than Stargate. Dopier than The Day After Tomorrow.

For a start, itís isnít clever to try and remake the first two-thirds of Mel Gibsonís Apocalypto only a couple of years after Mel did it, but without the thrills or half-decent acting. Itís not bright to employ a narrator (Omar Sharif) who talks a load of pompous rubbish and whose accent is so thick, itís impossible to understand what heís on about anyway. And itís really bone-headed if youíre one of the clumsiest wordsmiths in Hollywood Ė as Herr Emmerich undoubtedly is - to employ a co-screenwriter with even less imagination, writing ability and knowledge of the paleolithic world.

That said, 10,000 BC has survived a critical mauling in the States to make over 35 million dollars on its first weekend, so I shouldnít think anything I can write will deter you from seeing it. If youíre in the mood for super-sized trash with no sense of history, geography or humour, 10,000 BC offers up mindless spectacle on an extremely grand scale. And if you canít wait for the Olympics, thereís quite a lot of people running around, chucking spears.

If you must see it, watch it on a big screen with a walloping great sound system. If you do that, maybe you wonít titter at the gigantic prehistoric turkeys which act as so pertinent a metaphor for the whole film.

The hero of the piece is an indecisive young man called, appropriately enough, DíLeh, pronounced Delay. Played by the justifiably unknown Steven Strait (pictured), quite possibly known to his pals as Dire Strait, DíLeh is a self-doubting outsider in a bare-chested tribe, who speak surprisingly modern English (one warrior even soothes another by saying ďI feel your painĒ). With their bad dreadlocks and fabulous teeth, they look as if they have wandered over from some hitherto unknown, Rastafarian branch of Abercrombie & Fitch.

The tribeís way of life is to sit starving in the snow while Omar Sharif intones ponderous gobbledegook, until the manuk (thatís woolly mammoths to you) arrive to alleviate their boredom, and ours. It is only when hunky DíLeh has slain a manuk that he can lay claim to the woman Evolet (Camilla Belle), on whom he has had a crush since childhood, probably because she has discovered eyeliner and blue contact lenses, and looks exactly like Lindsay Lohan in a bad wig.

Amazingly, she reciprocates his feelings, even though they are accompanied by a kitsch orchestral score and an imperfect grasp of astronomy: ďYou see that star out there, the one that doesn't move? It's like my love for you, in my heart."

But wouldnít you know it? No sooner has DíLeh laid claim to the woman he loves in his heart than she and most of his tribe are captured by Ė in Sharifís momentous words - ďfour-legged demonsĒ, who turn out disappointingly just to be bald, horse-riding, Arab terrorists, carrying Ė no doubt Ė axes of evil. DíLeh and three others of his formerly peace-loving tribe, under the command of someone with the unfortunate name of DicíDic, or possibly TicíTic (Cliff Curtis), set off in pursuit.

The understandably nervous TicíTic carries the white spear Ė presumably known as SticíStic - that represents tribal authority, but in no time heís been injured and is taken SicíSic. Whereupon our hero takes over TicíTicís sticístic, and TicíTic is reduced to being DíLehís sidekicíkic.

Over the next interminable hour or so, DíLeh does some derivative Androcles and the Lion schticíschtic with a jerky-looking sabre-tooth tiger, who turns out to be an overgrown pussycat. Then DíLeh and his buddies get pecked at by a flock of bad-tempered giant turkeys, in a sequence which looks hilariously like Parkyís epic encounter with Emu. The four hunters track the ďfour-legged demonsĒ over the mountains of New Zealand, through Amazonian jungle, turning left at the Chinese bamboo forest, and across the Sahara desert, until they get to the Nile. As you do.

After what seems like an eternal delay, DíLeh discovers celestial navigation (which, curiously, doesnít seem to impress anyone) and teams up with various black, oppressed peoples who have been waiting years for a lighter-skinned man to turn up and lead them.

I canít remember the names of the tribes, but they are essentially the Serious People With Unfeasibly Thick Bones Jammed Into Their Chins, the Black Men Trying To Look Butch Despite Having To Wear Matching Beads and Ra Ra Skirts, and the Shy Guys Hiding Unsuccessfully Behind Bamboo Fence-Masks. Taking his cue from George BushíBush, DíLeh leads the united nations of the world against pyramid-building colonialist oppressors, who look like a cross between Ancient Egyptians and the most screamingly camp drag queens youíve seen outside Stargate. Theyíre building themselves either a giant tomb or a massive leisure resort Ė itís hard to tell precisely which. The real Egyptians didnít come along until 7,000 years later, but hey, whatís a few millennia between friends?

Just about the only pyramid salesman in the world who could take this white supremacist junk seriously is Roland Emmerich, and boy! does he take it seriously. He and his co-screenwriter Harald Kloser (who also composes the preposterously overblown score) come up with no fewer than three mystical prophecies in one movie, which has to be a record.

Emmerich has an eye for a widescreen picture: thereís one shot here of sailing ships on the Nile thatís almost worth the price of admission in itself. Heís made movies before that Iíve enjoyed, especially Independence Day, which was a lot of fun and had a quartet of engaging caricatures played by Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum, Randy Quaid and Bill Pullman.

Here, though, the characters remain completely uninteresting; we donít care a fig about the romance at the centre of the movie; various loose ends of the plot are carelessly left dangling; and thereís a ridiculous attempt at the end to invoke New Age mysticism and Erich von Danikenís theories about earthly rulers arriving from outer space.

10,000 BC is the sort of so-gobsmackingly-terrible-itís-good experience that can survive any amount of adverse criticism. Purists may bewail its banality, and its spectacular failure to present a convincingly imagined prehistoric world; but its only true purpose is to separate gullible punters from their money. In that respect, if no other, it will probably succeed.

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