So once again we have survived.

10,000 B.C.

12,008 years ago this very day there was a man who, according to legend — well, the legend on the poster and trailer for this movie — was “the first hero.” He was part of a tribe that had been around long enough to develop hunting techniques, fire, tools, language, religion, jewelry, and eyeliner, but for some reason they hadn’t gotten around to heroism until now. This hero seems like a normal modern day white dude of average intelligence and waxed chest, except he has mud all over his face and nappy dreadlocks. Some time in the intervening years his people must have had a schism and split off into two tribes – the modern “douchebag” took the basic look and demeanor while the patchouli wearing, hackysack playing potheads took the hair and lack of hygiene.

10,000 BC is the new movie from Roland Emmerich. With most movies you might ask “Does it suck?,” but Emmerich is like Schumacher or Bay, that’s a redundant question. “Suck” is the medium they work in, for them that’s the same as asking “Is it a movie?” So I can’t complain that it sucks, I can only report my observations.

10,000 BCI restrained myself from watching Emmerich’s last couple movies, but once he threw cavemen and wooly mammoths into the mix I thought it might be worth a few good chuckles. To be honest I dozed off a couple times but if you want a fairly harmless, completely idiotic movie with no artistic or social value of any kind but that some dipshits spent about 75 million dollars to make for some reason, and if that movie has to have come out this weekend and have a part where people get chased by ostrich/dodo bird monsters, this has got to be in the top 5.

Before I get into the specifics of this movie let’s take a minute to ponder the mystery of Roland Emmerich. I hate Michael Bay’s movies more than Emmerich’s because they are more mean-spirited, harder to follow visually and have poisoned the well more, influencing other directors stylistically and lowering the industry standard for minimum visual storytelling competence. But still – I understand Bay’s success more then I understand Emmerich’s. As much as I hate Bay’s style, it is a style that he sort of developed and made his trademark, and some people like that shit. They have a distinct look to them that some people like. Emmerich’s don’t really have a distinct look – his trademark is just an all-around corniness and stupidity, an agreement with the audience that he is allowed to insult their intelligence, and not allowed to compliment it. Like a really bad boyfriend. As far as I know the only people who like Emmerich like him as a “guilty pleasure,” going in expecting stupidity like I did with this one.

So how did he get to that level of a guy who keeps getting to make big budget effects movies every couple years? He started out doing cheesy German kiddy movies like GHOST CHASE and American b-movies like MOON 44 and UNIVERSAL SODIER. There are many directors who work with Van Damme and Lundgren, but almost all of them stay struggling in DTV and TV. How does this guy end up being the one that studios start burying in piles of money? Somehow he got to do INDEPENDENCE DAY, somehow people loved that stupid movie, and now he gets a life long free ride? Even after GODZILLA? I’m not mad or anything, I just think it’s weird. Maybe he’s just a really nice guy. That would be cool if this was his reward for being a good friend to everybody.

So anyway. As you have guessed, this is a fantasy movie with no connection to real history or common sense. These aren’t cavemen, they’re eloquent, British-accented hippies with spears. Like 300 they get a Preposterousness License by having narrator Omar Sharif say at the beginning that it’s a “legend.” The legend starts with a blue-eyed girl visiting an old witch lady who determines her connection to a prophecy that “four-legged demons” will attack their people. But never fear, a hero will rise, etc.

I had this idea, wouldn’t it be cool if they made a fantasy movie where nobody ever talked about any god damn prophecy?

Emmerich’s brain doesn’t have the capacity for original thought, so you can tell he was watching 300 and APOCALYPTO while he wrote this one. From 300 he gets battles with elephants, a young warrior letting a beast fall onto his spear, even the climactic shot of a long distance spear throw that hits the weird, god-like monarch and proves that he’s mortal. From APOCALYPTO he gets the exotically dressed strangers that storm the village, abduct people as slaves and bring them to a pyramid.

Of course, none of those things were startlingly original when they were in 300 or APOCALYPTO, but they were much better executed. The action scenes in 10,000 BC are fine, but the ones in 300 were better, the ones in APOCALYPTO were way better. APOCALYPTO had an organic, realistic look to it that made the ridiculously inaccurate historical details seem believable. 300 went the other direction, making everything look like a painting, so it was nice to look at and allowed for much more interesting exaggeration. APOCALYPTO had a likable hero, 300 had a mythical one. 10,000 BC is content to just plod along in the middle, looking cheesy and fake but not in an artistic way, having characters but not making them interesting.

This one also has a sort of racist subtext, but I’m not gonna blame that one on 300. It’s definitely an Emmerich trademark. I think he is genuinely trying to be a good guy and show different races and nationalities working together like he always does, but you can’t help but notice the girl is the chosen one because she has blue eyes and the white guy with dreadlocks leads all the Africans into battle like they never could’ve figured it out for themselves.

By the way, I am required by law to mention that Camilla Belle, who plays the blue-eyed babe, played Steven Seagal’s daughter in THE PATRIOT. She could be the next Catherine Heigl (Seagal’s niece in UNDER SIEGE 2.)

As far as moronic, crappy movies go, this is a watchable one. If I had seen it with an audience that wanted that it might be fun, there is plenty of terrible love story dialogue and silly turns of events to laugh and groan at. For example when they show a wall carving of a UFO to imply that the bad guys are aliens or their asociates. Or when a character offers the alternate theory that they are from Atlantis. I was hoping they would work bigfoots and chupacabras in there, but if they did I missed it.

The most evil of the bad guys looks like Osama bin Laden reborn as a professional wrestler. When he finally gets a spear through him look for the kid Bacu standing in the background smiling in delight. If you see it, that is. Which I wouldn’t necessarily recommend. Why must we keep reliving the past? What about moving forward into the future?

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Sunday, March 9th, 2008 at 3:55 pm and is filed under Action, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

15 Responses to “10,000 B.C.”

  1. Sorry if I’m the 10,000th guy asking that, but do you intend to see and review 2012? If you enjoy the “hilariously terrible and/or terribly hilarious” type of movie a la GI Joe, I thought you might get a kick out of 2012.

  2. I hate to say this, but I actually liked 2012. Now I know what it’s like to be one of the millions that love the Transformers movie.

    I blame Chiwetel Ejiofor and John Cusack.

  3. Well I enjoyed it a lot myself, but I enjoyed it because I thought it was brilliantly retarded, not because I thought it was an actually good movie. I don’t know, it’s like Emmerich unintentionally made the best possible parody of his own favorite genre.

  4. I am planning to see it. Hopefully it will fund three Redbelt sequels for Eijiofor so something positive comes out of it for the community.

  5. One thing I can say about 2012 is for the most part, the action scenes are ACTUALLY action scenes. I didn’t notice a lot of that quick-cut-shaky-cam bullshit. okay, some of the scenes were quick-cut, but I was always aware of what was going on.

    I had problems with the geography and time in the film universe (It’s funny when they do it in Stella, but that’s meant to be a joke) of course but I just let that go.

    Toxic – Did you notice that every escape scene is nearly identical? The only differences really is location and vehicle and a lot of them happen back to back.

    SPOILERS

    For instance when California goes to shit they’re driving with a chasm following them then they get on a plane while still trying to outrun the chasm. They run out of runway, barely get off the ground, and narrowly miss some falling buildings and a subway train.

    Now allow me to copy and paste that last paragraph with a few edits.

    For instance when YELLOWSTONE goes to shit they’re driving with FIRE AND ROCKS following them then they get on a plane while still trying to outrun the FIRE AND ROCKS. They run out of runway, barely get off the ground, and narrowly miss A HILLSIDE AND FIRE AND ROCKS.

    There was also the same scene yet again when they got on the big plane only this time it was different because they weren’t evading anything by car beforehand.

  6. I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I thought it was pretty awesome in the trailer when they switched from car to plane from one shot to the next and nobody noticed.

  7. 2012 may be good, Emmerich is still going to Hell for this bit of bullshit. And Godzilla. And the scene in Day After Tomorrow where they outrun the fucking cold.

  8. What I really liked in the movie is how the End of the World seems to be a character who’s specifically trying to kill John Cusack, maybe because he’s such a soulless sellout or something. The End of the World really hates him and wants to destroy him by any means necessary, and somehow Cusack always outruns/outsmarts the End of the World. “Oh no, I can see the End of the World in my rearview mirror, maybe if I take this shortcut I can shake it off my tail!”
    As for Ejiofor and Redbelt, I’m hoping for 2 sequels and a prequel set in the 1970s called RED BELT JONES.

  9. “And the scene in Day After Tomorrow where they outrun the fucking cold.”

    Holy shit thats how Shamalyan thought he could get away with that out-running the wind shit in The Happening.

  10. I don’t know if I’d like to see a Redbelt sequel. I thought the movie was perfect as it is. It would be like if someone made a sequel to Pulp Fiction.

    What I would love to see though is a Miami Vice or Heat type movie with Mario Van Peebles and Chiwetel Ejiofor. Maybe just for shits, throw Ricky Jay in there somewhere.

    Speaking of Ricky Jay, has anyone seen any of his magic acts? He’s really fucking good.

  11. Hey, if you want to not claw your eyes out while watching 1oooo BC, do what I did: switch the language to something you don’t understand and what the thing in that language with subtitles on. It makes the acting at least 40% better and you’re more likely to give the performances a little more leeway in general, being able to imagine that their cultural and social structures are different and not comparable to our own. Still won’t make it even close to good, but with awfulness of the acting and writing deflected slightly, you can more enjoy the goofy fun that it offers.

    One thing I’ll say in Emmerich’s defense, though, is that I think INDEPENDENCE DAY is a genuinely good movie. The action is sharp and well constructed, the characters are memorable and typically played by charismatic pros, the scope is truly epic, and even though its a long and absurd narrative filled with obvious plot holes and prone to ridiculous diversions, I find the pacing to be tight and propulsive. I think it’s a natural extension of the big disaster movies of the 70s, and fits into that cannon rather nicely, as an absurd but deeply entertaining and surprisingly fulfilling experience. Unfortunately, he’s been unable to recapture that magic (or come anywhere close) since, although I haven’t seen 2012. It actually boasts a good enough cast to conjure hopes of INDEPENDENCE-DAY-level glory, but I’ve been burned so many times I’m very wary.

  12. dieselboy- Shit dude you’re right, Emmerich started a trend. Now it’s not that being chased by some kind of intangible foe is a ‘bad’ thing, per se, but when that foe is something really, really stupid like ‘coldness’ or ‘wind’ that’s when you have a problem.

  13. Ricky Jay is the man. Thanks for the link, that shit is badass. I’ll always remember him for his episode of the X-files, where he does a similar act at the beginning.

  14. I love Ricky Jay story telling abilities. In that link, I have no idea who or what he was talking about but I was enthralled nonetheless which is probably the reason Anderson had him do the narration in Magnolia.

    He was also pretty good in Mamet’s Heist which I just saw for the first time a few weeks ago. That scene with him and Rockwell in the car when the cop showed up on the side of the road was tits.

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