10,000 B.C. Reviews
Back in the late 90's early 00's Roland Emmerich was kinda like the Michael Bay of our present day. This German bloke was throwing out big loud flashy action/disaster flicks like no ones business, the only different being some of these weren't too bad. Take this movie for example, now to look at this you could be forgiven for thinking it was some kind of trashy CGI stuffed dinosaur action flick with lots of ridiculously overblown stunts and heroic poses by some big name actor. Weeeeell you're half way there...but no, amazingly this isn't one of those films.
Set...errmm 10,000 years ago during a semi fictional prehistoric fantasy age, we meet a tribe of homo-sapiens that (so I've read) live in the Urals (Russia basically). They are your typical tribe of primitive people adorned with animal skins, bones and all sorts of crap they've found lying around. They have an old wise woman who is basically just plain weird and does all their predictions etc...generally telling them what to do and when to do it, regular cliches. The odd thing I noticed was this tribe seemed to be made up of different races of people. The young sexy male lead is a white dude with heavy tan makeup, there's a young (black?) mixed race kid, Cliff Curtis of New Zealand and the others also seem to be (black?) mixed race, oh and they're all wearing dreadlock wigs. I realise casting is tricky but at least try and get the same type of people for this prehistoric tribe that probably would have been all the same...geez!
The movie then has the stereotypical barbarian flick moment when a group of nasty savages (slave traders) on horseback ride into this tribes village, kill some folk and take others prisoner. Naturally...and as I'm sure you've guessed...the heroes blue eyed plaything get nabbed too so off he trots with some mates to rescue her. The small band of warriors then proceeds to apparently walk from the Urals in Russia all the way to the African continent. Admittedly we do see lots of very nice landscape sequences of them travelling across mountain ranges and vast expanses of tundra but you gotta think that would kill them, especially as they're only wearing furs.
After walking across the frozen wastes of Russia and half of the Middle East apparently the plucky tribesmen reach hot jungles which could be anywhere (10,000 years ago remember). A quick battle with some terror birds (which I've read mainly lived in South America a few million years ago but never mind) and its presumably off into Africa as the men reach desert terrain. There they team up with lots and lots of various tribes of African warriors who only now decide to rise up against the evil slave traders because our main hero made friends with a Smilodon. Yep our hero fell into a trap which also had a saber-toothed cat trapped in it. Our hero help free the big cat so naturally this huge carnivore thought it would repay the offer and help our hero out too...just like in real life.
At long last the film reaches it final location which must be Egypt and the construction of the Pyramids of Giza. It sounds realistic only until I read that the 'God' running the show using all these thousands of slaves to build the pyramids is the last survivor of Atlantis. Why he wants to build these big pyramids in the desert I don't know, why all these priests and soldiers worship him as a God I don't know and how they manage to keep woolly mammoths alive in the heat I also don't know...moving on.
Yes there are lots of silly issues and factual inaccuracies in this movie, I think its fair to say that was expected with an Emmerich movie. The question is does this affect the movie? I would say no, no its actually a very solid movie which is fun to watch believe it or not. For starters they have really gone to town with the visuals, the location work is sumptuous throughout with gorgeous landscapes set against sunsets, dusks etc... Each terrain we visit looks spot on, you feel the chill in the Urals, the jungles are well created and deserts always look good in movies. The transition from the freezing mountains to the jungles was a bit quick though. Not only that but the CGI is really excellent too! yes I know its amazing, even to this day all the CGI beasts look pretty darn good...accept maybe the saber-tooth but you can't have everything. What's more I can't stress enough how impressive the pyramid construction site looks, a sprawling living sea of people and mammoths all at work like thousands of worker ants.
What also impressed me was a lot of the characters in this movie are speaking in native languages, whether they are real or not I don't know but it sure as hell sounds real. There are many different tribesmen from various regions and there has clearly been a lot of effort to create accurate attire for these warriors, accurate weapons, face paint markings, armour etc...Plus the fact they all speak a native tongue is really quite a brave and bold move I must say, considering this movie was virtually a big blockbuster affair you wouldn't really expect something like that. It all adds to the realism and atmosphere which really helps the film, you forget its a Roland Emmerich movie, it feels more like a 'Dances with Wolves' type movie. I read there was an idea to make the whole film in native tongue using subtitles, I personally think that would have been even better.
Its also interesting that Emmerich went with an unknown cast so as to give the film a more realistic edge...which it did. Its nice to see directors do that because it does work (not always). Unfortunately none of the cast, as far as I'm aware, went on to anything else. I was thinking whilst watching that I had literately no clue who they were and I couldn't place any of them from any other movie.
Its a strange animal this film, some of it is pure Hollywood action hokum with added layers of grilled cheese. Such as the characters throwing around these spears that manage to harpoon people right through, oh and the hero making this amazingly accurate pinpoint throw of his spear over quite some distance to take out the main bad guy. That small scene actually spoils the film to be honest, its so ludicrously stupid. Yet despite that there is a lot of genuinely decent stuff to enjoy here, a bit of a hodgepodge of historical/archaeological facts granted but you know what...its cool. The rise of the slaves is a rousing rollicking bit of action, the history is still compelling and it still looks great today.
The CGI proves too prominent in this stylish but dismal, distasteful, and just plain dumb historical film.
I don't know why everyone is hating on this movie. I thought it was really good. Maybe it's just another case of the blind leading the blind.