Director: Roland Emmerich (ID4, Godzilla, The Patriot, Day After Tomorrow)
Writers: Roland Emmerich, Harald Kloser
Producers: Mark Gordon, Roland Emmerich, Michael Wimer
Starring: Steven Strait, Camilla Belle, Cliff Curtis, Joel Virgel, Affif Ben Badra
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running time: 109 min
Don’t believe everything you hear from the critics on this one. Is it a good movie? Certainly not, but it’s far from the trash heap that many have been stacking it upon – let’s reserve that for films like The Covenant. It’s got some neat looking scenes, decent effects and the acting isn’t nearly as horrible as I was led to believe. Still, am I going to recommend this to many people? Decidedly no.
A small, peaceful tribe of villagers live in the upper mountains of somewhere. When a young girl shows up, the high priestess (or witch doctor if you will) informs her people that the girl is someone special who, along with an unknown hero, will help lead the people to peace and freedom after an attack by the “four-legged demons.” While the people don’t know it yet, the audience knows that this hero is D’Leh; a young man who’s scorned by peers as a coward because his father left the village years ago for some reason which we still haven’t had explained to us.
At some point the four legged demons (aka men on horses) do attack the village, ransacking everything and taking many prisoners; including Evolet (the young girl of whom the prophesy spoke). D’Leh and a few others head out in search of the group who stole their friends and family. Along the way they meet other tribes in similar peril and together, they must try to stop the band of evil doers who ravage the land.
The one thing the movie had going for it was the neat looking effects in the trailer. Several of us around here mentioned that it has woolly mammoths, so right there it’s probably worth the price of admission. I’d have to say that that statement is almost accurate. The mammoth scenes are fairly short, but they’re used quite well and are fun and exciting scenes. Worth the price of admission? Not quite, but definitely worth a look.
Along with the mammoths are some fantastic, sweeping scenery shots of a virgin land long forgotten. Deserts, jungles, snowy mountains: these are a few of the great settings throughout the film that we get to spend a considerable amounts of time. Each locale serves its own purpose and within each one do we get a fairly exciting sequence.
When you get into the acting department, I was dimayed to hear accounts of the stiff acting by all involved. This hurt a little as I really dig the work of Cliff Curtis. From Pablo Escobar to the captain of the Icarus, he brings life to every role he plays. Fortunately, and maybe this is due to some low expectations, I didn’t find anyone to be particularly horrible. Cliff Curtis does what he can with the role and most everyone in the tribe, thugh mostly no-names, seemed believable and worked well for what the story called for. Camilla Belle is a bit wooden as the girl in distress, but her role is surprisingly small and we actually don’t see much of her. Steven Strait, who also appeared in the aforementioned (and attrocious), The Covenant, was surprisingly vibrant and charismatic. While most of the film he’s forced to play a tough guy, he’s also remarkably humanistic and again, he does the job for what the film calls for.
The villain of the picture is sure to capture the attention of the audience as well. Played by Affif Ben Badra, this warlord is a towering figure with odd facical characterisitics and much like Xerxes in Zach Snyder’s 300, the vocal register seems to have been digitally dropped in pitch to give a more menacing sound to his voice. But unlike 300, this character is not god-like or omnipotent. He’s a vicious, but humanisitic killer that strikes fear into nearly everyone around him.
Now, while this may appear to be a defense piece, there are a lot of problems with the movie. For one thing, it’s pretty cheesy. A lot of the lines and happenings throughout are just sort of eye-rolling behavior. The actors try to sell it, but in most cases they just aren’t able to do so and it just falls flat. Secondly, I felt like the story was trying to have some sort of deep meaning and even a plot-line that we’d have to really concentrate on. Again, this fails miserably and we’re left with the most overly simplistic storyline one can have and still have a movie. This would’ve worked great had the film makers realized this and just gone with that. Instead, they try to inject mystery and a family blood line premise mixed with mythical and religious overtones. Unfortunately none of it works and just ends up bringing the rest of the film down because of it.
Basically what we’ve got here is a poor man’s Apocalypto (my review). It’s basically the same premise, but without the fabulous cinematagraphy, meanwhile trying too hard to be something it’s not. While Apocalypto took the time to get us to really care about our main characters, 10,000 B.C. tries to get us to care about something we can’t see or feel. So while I think the movie isn’t horrible, it is most certainly not worth sitting through unless you really like yourself some familar looking fight sequences and several big budget special effects that although look fine, are just like the rest of the movie: not anything all that special.
Click “play” to see the trailer: