Monday, March 31, 2008

10,000 B.C. *

Director: Roland Emmerich
Cast: Steven Strait, Camilla Belle
Cliff Curtis, Joel Virgel, Reece Ritchie, Omar Sharif

Roland Emmerich's newest extravaganza is called "10,000 B.C", what it never states is what planet does it take place in.
Disregarding all notions of history, sanity and just plain common sense he sets his epic somewhere after the Ice Age, but not quite in the exact age that followed it. A time and place where wooly mammoths roam freely next to giant, man eating dodos, while different human races are separated by mere mountains and forests.
Among these tribes is the Yagahl, home to D'Leh (Strait) a mammoth hunter whose father marked with shame when he abandoned the tribe. D'Leh is in love with Evolet (Belle) a mysterious girl who arrived years before to the tribe and is supposed to be part of a big prophecy.
When Evolet is kidnapped by "four legged demons", along with most of the tribe, D'Leh finds it fit to fulfill his destiny and prove to everyone that he is not his father, setting off to rescue them.
This gives the plot a perfect excuse to cram all the prehistoric clichés it can fit into 109 minutes.
Efficiently crossing all sorts of terrains, D'Leh and his gang, which includes village warrior Tic'Tic (Curtis), meet different tribes (and the most polite saber toothed tiger in film history), including the Naku, formed by Africans who just pop out in the middle of a desert to remind us that D'Leh is part of a bigger scheme.
As preposterous as all the twists seem, the real flaw in the film is that it never has any fun with it. When it has gorgeous, semi naked people, wearing loincloths, it chooses to go for a prude attitude that would make museum figures look perverted.
Turns out these people knew agriculture, sail boats and fire, but hormones were still to be discovered.
When it had all kinds of mythological ideas to draw from and turn into unabashed camp, it's spiritual guru (Mona Hammond) is better suited for a Disney movie.
Even with its narration, done by the legendary Omar Sharif, the film doesn't see how the contrast between his sobriety and the incoherence of the visuals could make for some sort of postmodern take on the nature documentary.
Emmerich could've easily exploited the idea that history is constructed by random events and coincidences, but instead he chooses to go for a "The Ten Commandments" meets "300" mashup that has neither the style of one nor the emotional feel of the other.
It's absolutely bizarre that the filmmakers took such decisions, because by taking this dramatic route, most things take on a different level.
Sometimes it seems as if it's perpetuating racism and making it look OK by setting it before recorded history.
That the black people immediately bow and follow the hunky Caucassian is offensive.
But the most perplexing element in the film might be after all its inspiration. Borrowing visuals and ideas from "Stargate" and the films mentioned before, the most honest thing the film has is probably its title.
The B.C. perhaps makes no reference to any time or place but is merely an abbreviation for "bad cinema".

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