STUDIO: Warner Home Video
RUNNING TIME: 109 minutes
• Awesome additional scenes
• Awesome alternate ending
It’s a terrible hybrid of The Clan of the Cave Bear and an unfunny lolcat.
Sam: “So what are we gonna tell the elves?”
Merry: “We tell them that Strider was eaten by a troll.”
Frodo: “Don’t you guys feel a little guilty?”
Merry: “Listen: He was sleeping, we were hungry, end of story.
How many more days did he expect us to go without second breakfast?”
Steven Strait, Camilla Belle, Cliff Curtis, Joel Virgil, Omar Sharif (!)
Merging information-age visuals with buffoon-age storytelling, 10,000 BC recounts the adventures of Caucasian tribal hunter D’leh as he attempts to rescue his lily-white girlfriend from middle eastern savages. Along the way, they free and unite all sorts of different helpless minorities.
Tik-Tik was about to learn one of the most fundamental lessons of warfare:
Never bring a shuffleboard cue to a spear fight.
J. Hoberman wrote a really great article called “Bad Movies” where he posits that even some of the most crass, brainless, and corrupt movies have their own set of merits. “Supremely bad movies,” says Hoberman, “project a stupidity that’s fully awesome as genius.” We all have our guilty pleasure films, and sometimes these objectively bad movies are just as rich, unique, and revealing as good ones. These good bad movies (They Saved Hitler’s Brain, for example) often fail miserably in their attempts to tell a story- the acting might be obvious, the continuity might be ruined, or the effects might be unbelievable, for example- and the way this failure estranges us from clichés and institutional storytelling techniques is a special quality in and of itself.
However, there’s clearly a separate level for films that aren’t bad enough in the any of the right ways to be good bad films. Perhaps they’re missing a special degree of craziness, or maybe they’re just patently uninteresting. It’s worth noting that many of these bad bad movies display some of the hallmarks of truly good and well-made films. Elements like perfect continuity, quality cinematography, expensive digital effects, and talented cast members only serve to exaggerate a bad bad movie’s problems.
10,000 BC is a bad bad movie. Don’t believe anyone who tells you that it’s “one nutty, crazy ride!”, and that you should just turn off your brain and have a blast with it. It’s an uninteresting and nearly worthless mess from start to finish. The characters are all bland and lifeless. The story relies on worn-out and predictable conventions that should have been retired years ago. There isn’t a single moment of intentional levity- not a one- in the entire two hours of the film. It is a live action version of Ice Age, but without any jokes.
Chieftan Gorak of the Hill People was renowned for introducing
the game of “whack-a-mole” to the west.
BC’s problems begin at the conceptual level. Putting aside that the film features highly civilized cavemen rebelling against the rule of a prehistoric Egyptian society that uses Woolly Mammoths as work animals, it’s troubling and insulting that BC‘s protagonist saviors are both obviously Caucasian, and that nearly every single other character isn’t. The noble and heroic D’leh, in pursuit of the beautiful, doe-eyed Evolet, are given “chosen one” status as they each fulfill a unique prophecy to unite the people of Earth and take down the Egyptian empire. It wouldn’t be nearly as bad if D’leh’s warrior brethren, who are all either Native American, Asian, or Middle Eastern, weren’t all easily-defeated red shirts.
White folks: saving your ass from oppressive regimes since day 1. YOU’RE WELCOME.
This says nothing of the contrived and obvious plot device of the “chosen one who fulfills a prophecy and saves the village”, or the silly Old Mother matriarch character who spits out these prophecies like a crusty, supernatural ATM. She also has some kind of psychic vision ability where she can watch and protect D’leh while he’s out and about on his mission to save the village. She never really does anything to help him, but it’s a little amusing to watch her jump out of bed every time D’leh falls into a tiger pit or gets attacked by giant birds.
Derrick hated his girlfriend’s cat so much.
At 109 minutes, it’s a much shorter film than Emmerich’s Independence Day, The Patriot, Godzilla, Stargate, or The Day After Tomorrow (he sure does like him some lengthy movies!), but it feels longer and more bloated than any of them. This is because BC‘s creators felt that to lend the film some authenticity, the characters must all be dour and humorless, speak in hushed tones about what happened “many moons ago”, and be entirely one dimensional. D’leh and his friends are all interchangeable “noble savage” cutouts, and the Egyptian marauders are all mindless brutes. We’re not given a reason to care for any of them. Spoiler: By the end of this mess, D’leh manages to save his people from the evil Egyptian empire, and even impales the emperor from afar with his spear. It seems like a half-assed referendum on 300‘s final moments, but when you’re writing your own retarded, anglocentric version of world history, I guess the sky’s the limit. Oh, and D’leh single-handedly destroys the ENTIRE EGYPTIAN CIVILIZATION by turning their mammoths against them, effectively setting humanity back 5,000 years. Thanks, dude!
As far as redeeming qualities go, I can’t even say that the visuals are astounding, because they aren’t even that good. Everything looks overlit, and some of the CGI looks surprisingly fake, especially the Saber-toothed cat, who ends up looking more like Tony the Tiger than Aslan. The mammoths look good, though, so hopefully that code can be reused in a better move somewhere down the road. There’s a ludicrous killer ostrich scene that apes the Jurassic Park movies so blatantly that I half expected a young black girl to start swinging from poles and kicking ass, but that would violate the “white heroes only” rule.
I’d love to laugh at this ridiculously grave look at cavemen and bird monsters, but it’s all played so straight and is so well-polished (with an appropriately somber score by Harald Kloser and Thomas Wander) that it’s just depressing. It’s bad bad, and I can’t recommend it to anyone for any reason. It’s easily the worst Emmerich film to date.
The lonely pair of special features include a handful of additional scenes and an alternate ending. The alternate ending emphasizes how the advanced Egyptian culture died out soon after D’leh saves the day, and features a cameo by Omar Sharif, who narrates the film. None of the additional scenes are of interest.
I’m giving this a full extra point for the box art, which has a neat pseudo-Frazetta feel, and belies the oppressive fun-vacuum that is the film within. The audio is a perfectly acceptable Dolby 3/2.1, with great subwoofer channel usage, but the video transfer is terrible. Even in upscaled 1080p, pixels were visible everywhere.