10,000 B.C.

Movies Reviews Roland Emmerich
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10,000 B.C.

Release Date: March 7
Director: Roland Emmerich
Writers: Roland Emmerich, Harald Kloser
Cinematographer: Ueli Steiger
Starring: Steven Strait, Camilla Belle, Cliff Curtis
Studio/Run Time: Warner Brothers, 109 mins.

10,000 B.C. takes place a long time ago in a galaxy that I think is supposed to be very, very near. But back then things were different. No one used contractions, for example. They just did not. And people were so tiny that every cat, vulture and pachyderm these Lilliputians came across was a giant, savage beast. Times were hard. Food was scarce. War would break out whenever “four-legged demons”—which were actually ancient Egyptian Viking Romans from India…on horseback—would steal your woman and take her back to their land. The only way to respond was to join forces with a good portion of the African diaspora to confront the devils and take her back. And free some slaves and stuff.

Good film editors have a rule of thumb: if a movie feels too long, sometimes cutting things out can make it seem even longer. If you remove the wrong parts of the story, you may lose the motivation for the action so that even the fast parts seem dull.

I believe in that rule, but it assumes you’re dealing with a story that people care about. I wish the directors of action extravaganzas like 10,000 B.C. would have the guts to do the opposite, to reduce the story to brief flashes. It’s the one part that nobody cares about. We want fights and saber-toothed tigers and winged adversaries and escalating speed. We don’t, in the year 2008, want vast hordes on the screen, because we know they’re created in a computer via copy-paste. And we certainly don’t want a story to slow things down. We need just enough information to move us from point to point.

Remember that scene in Mission: Impossible II where a pair of motorcycles are racing directly toward each other, and the riders inexplicably leap straight up off of their bikes and collide mid-air? Verdict: awesome. But sending Robert Towne into his attic to craft a story that justifies such a scene is a fool’s errand. Forget it. We don’t need any justification.

But the folks who made 10,000 B.C. disagree. They’ve filled their film with a lengthy, sub-Disney plot and inserted a few measly slivers of action that hardly warrant all the mystical hubbub and romantic angst. How much explanation do we really need to understand that the shirtless hunk needs to save the blue-eyed damsel whose chains are held by an ugly brute? Efficiency, people. Show us his determined teeth, her lovely arms, and the brute’s greasy mug. Now, cue the vultures.

10,000 B.C. is so dull, its action scenes so brief, and its climax such a groaner, that I doubt anyone will be clamoring for a 9,000 B.C. anytime soon. That is, unless the producers decide to advance the setting all the way to 3,000 A.D. where a futuristic “mystery science” is able to put movies like this into perspective. Then maybe they’d have something.