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10,000 BC REVIEW

10,000 BC opens with a voiceover introduction to a small mountain tribe  who are apparently waiting for the blue-eyed one to come (possibly an early Frank Sinatra cult ).  What the narrator fails to either mention or explain is that this small group of people who, given their remote location, would have a fairly high inbreeding rate, somehow manage to appear multi-ethnic.  They’re like a stone age Benetton commercial - The United Colors of Mammoth Hunters - advertising this season’s furs and sandals.

This is a land where children, too puny-looking to be living a rough life, congratulate each other with high elbows and talk to their wannabe girlfriends with strangely accented lines read from Hallmarks cards.  For seasons or years, these people wait for the cloned CGI wooly mammoths to arrive, so that they might run alongside them, Pamplona-style, in what makes for better tourist snapshots than hunting efficacy.  Indeed, the lead bull is only killed because of the greatest onscreen accidental victory since a young Anakin destroyed the droid control ship.

But this is more about spectacle than plot and the story itself is simple, despite mixing Apocalypto, Pathfinder (both versions), The Warriors, The Lion and the Mouse (Aesop’s Fables), The Last Starfighter, Emmerich’s own Stargate (perhaps he had leftover sets and costumes?), and every movie in which somebody was ever told they couldn’t walk across a desert. 

But wait, you say, weren’t they just in the mountains?  Yes, they were, but this is a movie in which characters either casually manage to walk a thousand miles, or they somehow experience faster climate change than an Al Gore nightmare.  And along the way they meet many other tribes who apparently have much more insular breeding standards.

All of these folks have two things in common:  They’ve been visited by the same slavers and they seem to believe in conveniently coordinated prophesies.  It’s as if they were all told, independently, that 12,008 years later, Roland Emmerich would make a movie that tied all of their unique tribal stories together in a previously unlikely manner.  And how incompetent do you have to be in the slave gathering business, to need your supervisor to remind you upon arrival in a village “Don’t kill, capture them!”?  Oh, right, sorry about that first one boss.  My bad.

But you can’t allow these details to matter, unless you find them funny, which certainly helps.   You can’t ponder the fact that a long lost father happened to wander off in the only direction that would serve the screenplay.  You can’t dwell on a circle-drawing leadership analogy that seems like an introduction to set theory and Venn diagrams.  You can’t allow yourself to lament the awkward movements of a sabre-toothed tiger or the physics of spear throwing.  You can’t laugh too loudly when the high priest first sees “the mark”.  And you can’t afford to wonder why people wouldn’t separate their seeds and beans into separate bags.

For, if you do any of these things, you would miss the spectacle of watching “he who speaks to the speartooth” (for reals!) chasing after “she who has Sinatra’s eyes” across a continent’s worth of cinematically diverse habitats and neighborhoods.  This is a Summer popcorn movie that was relegated to March and, as such, it’s not really good enough to love or bad enough to hate.  Perhaps the best approach would be to match the movie with cheese flavored corn.

-Tony Sheppard
tony@retrocrush.com