New flick ‘10,000 B.C.’ fails to live up to epic hype
March 13, 2008
The epic has made something of a comeback in recent years. Thanks to the efforts of “300” and “Apocalypto,” this ambitious genre is undergoing an artistic resurgence, turning up flicks that combine spectacle and storytelling into one glorious package.
Then there are movies like “10,000 B.C.” on the other end of the spectrum. To call this film ambitious would mean inferring that it actually had the drive to be something special, which it certainly doesn’t.
“10,000 B.C.” is perfectly content with getting by on the bare minimum of thrills, chills and spills, an exhaustingly mediocre movie that, despite not being awful, still never gets around to justifying its own existence.
Taking place in, where else, 10,000 B.C., the story focuses on the life of young tribal hunter D’Leh (Steven Strait). Branded the son of a coward after his father fled their little community, D’Leh strives to be accepted by his fellow tribesmen and prove his worthiness as a potential leader.
Such a chance arises when a group of marauders ride in and swipe away a handful of tribe members, including his lady love, Evolet (Camilla Belle).
With a couple of his tribe’s strongest accompanying him, D’Leh sets out on a quest to track down the kidnappers, a trek that proves to be fraught will all manner of dangers, ranging from massive mammoths and saber-toothed tigers to a cult bent on enslaving all those who cross their path.
There’s just so little going on in “10,000 B.C.” In terms of scope or thematics, all you can really do is sit back and wonder what the point of it all is.
The plot is essentially a vague rendition of “Apocalypto’s” turn of events, which is fair enough; both are chase movies at heart and follow similarly logical progressions. But the difference between the two is that Mel Gibson’s masterpiece excelled in storytelling and shook you with its more violent moments, while “10,000 B.C.” plays things waaaaay too safe.
You get the feeling that the actors are playing dress-up and flouncing around on leftover sets from the “Flintstones” movie, not concerned in the slightest about bringing to the screen a real slice of prehistoric life.
The leads are GQ models coated with a bit of dirt, and everyone’s stuck bellowing their lines in random, mismatched accents (including the lead villain, whose voice has been digitally lowered to a laughable effect). Even the fake-o special effects serve as laughable distractions from the paper-thin plot.
After all of my complaints, you’d think I’d be ready to declare “10,000 B.C.” a cinematic stinker on the same level as “In the Name of the King.” But in the end, it’s completely bearable, thanks to an admittedly tense moment or two and some lovely eye candy courtesy of the beautiful Belle. Still, if you decide to see “10,000 B.C.,” don’t be surprised to find yourself wanting a Spartan to come along and show this cheap imitation how to be a true epic.
A.J. Hakari is a student at UW-River Falls.