10,000 B.C.

Movie Information

The Story: When his people are kidnapped by slave traders, a young sort of caveman and his friends mount a rescue party. The Lowdown: Simply put: The most amazing amalgam of idiocy your eyes have ever beheld.
Score:

Genre: Epic Foolishness
Director: Roland Emmerich
Starring: Steven Strait, Camilla Belle, Cliff Curtis, Joel Virgel, Mona Hammond
Rated: PG-13

You may have seen worse movies than 10,000 B.C., but you’ll have to work hard to find a dumber one. Even for a Roland Emmerich picture, this sets new standards for stupidity. This is like Uwe Boll with a budget. This is the village idiot of movies. No sooner had the end credits started to roll than my colleague Justin Souther remarked, “It’s hard to believe that was written by adults”—at which point, small children everywhere doubtless took umbrage over his implicit defamation of their intellect and are even now marching toward his house with torches ablaze.

Without seeing the movie—an undertaking I strongly advise against—it’s probably hard to imagine the aggregate asininity amassed therein. A rundown of the “plot” will perhaps convey some small sense of the thing. You see, there’s this tribe of scruffy, dreadlocked Ice Age folks who live inside a disused woolly mammoth skeleton (presumably they ate the rest at the annual mammoth pickin’) on some inhospitable patch of ground to which they are mystifyingly attached. It all has to do with some prophecy that a singularly filthy shaman named something like Big Mama or Old Mother (Mona Hammond, Kinky Boots) talks about—in English, no less, but with an accent so we know these are ancient people (ancient people with really good dental care and razors).

The prophecy involves the tribe’s outcast, D’Leh (Steven Strait), who is destined for God knows what. You may or may not remember Mr. Strait from The Covenant (2006)—the cute-boys-with-magical-powers “thriller.” I confess I didn’t (the matted hair, furs and grime perhaps got in the way). I had to look him up on the IMDb where I learned—according to his biography—that “acting didn’t come naturally” to Strait, a fact he insists on evidencing in nearly every scene of 10,000 B.C..

Anyway, after he inadvertently becomes a hero in the yearly CGI mammoth hunt, it looks like life is on the upswing for D’Leh. He’s presented with the white spear by tribal leader Tic ‘Tic (Cliff Curtis, Sunshine) and is all set to marry the tribe honey, Evolet (Camilla Belle, When a Stranger Calls), when he has a crise de conscience concerning his faux bravery. Before this can get worked out, slave traders show up and kidnap a goodly chunk of the tribe, including—wouldn’t you know it—Evolet. Well, there’s nothing for it, but for D’Leh, Tic ‘Tic, some other befurred ruffian and the requisite hero-worshipping kid (think Indiana Jones’ Short-Round in smelly animal skins) to set off in rescue-party mode.

As luck would have it, Australia (to judge by the flora) is just on the other side of the mountain (must be continental drift), and our heroes very nearly effect their rescue—only to be thwarted by voracious (but incredibly inept), dopey-looking CGI ostriches. Following a rip-off of Androcles and the Lion—with D’Leh as Androcles and the worst CGI saber-toothed tiger imaginable as the lion—we find ourselves on what appear to be the still-standing sets where Bing and Bob met up with cannibals in Road to Zanzibar in 1941. Things look bleak for our heroes when the natives show up. However, the cartoon feline chooses this moment to wander back into the action and not eat D’Leh in recognition of his earlier kindness to the critter (why he doesn’t eat someone else, I don’t know), thereby fulfilling some prophecy or other and establishing D’Leh as some long-awaited savior.

Tribal leader Nakudu (Joel Virgel, The Flintstones on Viva Rock Vegas) calls in a bunch of other colorful tribes to make war on the slave traders (and no, I don’t know how he contacted them). In spite of this, Tic ‘Tic is killed (I really think he wandered off, changed his last name, and founded a breath-mint empire). Then the bad guys sail away down a river. Ah, but D’Leh figures out how to make it through the desert by following a star, a star burning in the night. And what do you suppose they find? No, not the little town of Bethlehem. That would just be silly—besides there’s no evidence that these boys are packing frankincense and myrrh, let alone any gold. Instead, they find Egypt where—some 7,300 years before old King Zoser had the first step-pyramid built—woolly mammoths and assorted kidnapped tribesmen (this is apparently before the discovery of Jews) are helping to construct what appear to be the Giza pyramids. Like any forward-thinking caveman, D’Leh forthrightly asserts, “Let my mammoths go.”

There’s more requisite heroic nonsense and prophecy—including a blind guy the slaves keep in a hole in the ground so they can haul him up to advance the plot—complete with stampeding-mammoth action, but you should get the idea by now. And if that’s not enough, Omar Sharif narrates it all in case we can’t follow the story. If only he’d tossed in a “Play no trump, your lead,” or some other bridge tips, I might’ve bought it. But he didn’t, and therefore I didn’t. So there. Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense action and violence.

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About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress since December 2000. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

27 thoughts on “10,000 B.C.

  1. Dionysis

    I am not one bit surprised by this review, and just how awful this film is; it’s not hard to see just from the trailers. It sounds as if this flick just may out-do ‘Godzilla’ on the Crummy Scale.

    Oh well, I guess I’ll dust of the original ONE MILLION YEARS, BC with Victor Mature (burned onto DVD from laserdisc). I know that’s a decent caveman flick.

  2. Ken Hanke

    You might also consider RETURN OF THE APE MAN as an alternative with Bela Lugosi’s defrosted cave man (Frank Moran) on a very minor rampage in a modern (1944) city. It’s a lot more sincere. OK, so you can see the prehistoric gent’s underwear when he climbs out a window in one shot. But by way of compensation there’s the indelible image of Lugosi in a dinner suit prowling the streets with a blow-torch in hand in search of his errant discovery.

  3. Ken Hanke

    “This film was moronic, but surprisingly watchable… as long as you suspend all history and reason. We gave Rachel Welch a free pass, right?”

    I found it kind of dull when it wasn’t funny. The thing about giving Rachel/Raquel a free pass is that the film in question — ONE MILLION YEARS B.C. — was essentially a cheesy Hammer flick that cashed in on her physical charms in “the world’s first bikini.” It had the good sense (or innate naivete) to not attempt to be serious in this regard. I don’t envision a dirt-encrusted Camilla Belle with matted hair becoming a popular pin-up.

  4. Justin Souther

    I was personally amazed by how there wasn’t even an attempt at being even the slightest bit historically accurate.

    It’s almost like they figured no one would notice.

  5. Ken Hanke

    “It’s almost like they figured no one would notice.”

    You do realize that there will be folks who accept this at face value as an accurate portrayal of 10,000 B.C.? There are after all people who believe that the remake of THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE catalogues real events and that the fake newsreel footage at the beginning of it is real. Also recall that there was once a survey done of a group of voters that discovered that 75% of that group believed FORREST GUMP was a documentary.

  6. “I was personally amazed by how there wasn’t even an attempt at being even the slightest bit historically accurate.

    It’s almost like they figured no one would notice. ”

    SPOILER if you care…

    My favorite was when they gave the leads seeds and amongst them was corn, which was not introduced to that side of the world until the discovery of North America.

    “I don’t envision a dirt-encrusted Camilla Belle with matted hair becoming a popular pin-up.”

    To be honest Ken, I surprised that your review didn’t compare Belle and others closely resembling people that hang out downtown. It would have been too easy I guess!

  7. Ken Hanke

    “My favorite was when they gave the leads seeds and amongst them was corn, which was not introduced to that side of the world until the discovery of North America.”

    I believe I turned to Justin at the time and said, “My people call it maize,” which I realize is from a commercial far too old for him to know.

    “To be honest Ken, I surprised that your review didn’t compare Belle and others closely resembling people that hang out downtown. It would have been too easy I guess!”

    Believe me, it crossed my mind.

  8. Dionysis

    Not to split hairs, but I believe the Raquel Welch/Hammer remake was titled simply ONE MILLION BC, whereas the original was ONE MILLION YEARS, BC. At least that’s how they’re labeled on my discs.

  9. Dionysis

    “I’m 99% sure you’ve got that reversed.”

    Yep, a check with IMDB shows you have it right and I have it reversed (I’m not home to double-check). Regardless, I still think the original film was pretty good, even without Raquel in her fur bikini.

  10. Ken Hanke

    Oh, the 1940 one is certainly the better of the two films (I think the 1966 one follows much of its “plot”). They’re both as historically specious in their own way as 10,000 B.C. (cavemen vs. dinosurs…welllll), but they’re somehow not as obnoxious about it. Maybe it’s simply that they’re quaint and were made by people who maybe really thought cavemen and dinosaurs were contemporaries. I am presuming that Mr. Emmerich is aware that woolly mammoths didn’t build the pyramids.

  11. “They’re both as historically specious in their own way as 10,000 B.C. (cavemen vs. dinosurs…welllll), but they’re somehow not as obnoxious about it.”

    Wasn’t the Earth created 6,000 years ago?

  12. Ken Hanke

    “Wasn’t the Earth created 6,000 years ago?”

    Been hanging out with Archbishop Usher again, have you? Actually, I think by his reckoning the earth will celebrate its 6012th birthday on October 23.

    Shall we have the party at Marc’s house?

  13. Chad Nesbitt

    A “B” movie with good special effects. The writer should have told us more about the scars on the lead female actors hand. It aligns with the stars. Why was that such a big deal?
    Definatly a “B” movie that could have realy been somthing.

    Chad Nesbitt

  14. Andrew Leal

    October 23 is my birthday. So apparently I was born the same day as the planet, which is only 5,983 years older than I am. Who knew? Seriously, regardless of one’s religious beliefs, and I’m a Christian, the whole “young earth” thing is only moderately less silly than Egyptian mammoths. All of this makes that live-action Flintstones movie look like a gripping historical drama (at least that had an inexplicable cameo by Elizabeth Taylor).

  15. Dionysis

    “(cavemen vs. dinosurs…welllll)”

    Yet in spite of this seemingly wild notion, we have this enigma:

    “In 1966 near the little town of Ica in the Peruvian mountains the town physician Dr. Cabrera found thousands of stones etched with images and many of them showed humans and dinosaurs living together. In 1944 near the town of Acambaro in Mexico the German businessman/anthropologist Waldemar Jusrud uncovered thousands of clay and stone figurines and many of them showed humans interacting with dinosaurs. These finds got instant attention in the media and with evolutionary scientists because they show something thought impossible: humans and dinosaurs living together.”

    http://www.world-mysteries.com/mpl_10rapw.htm

  16. Avl Tao

    Just saw the film today and enjoyed it. Liked how Emmerich acknowledged geography-driven racial differences via cool casting ala Benetton ads. The artistic license taken ranged from the defensible experimental (latest thinking on now-extinct mega-predators ala Animal Planet, that liked human buffets), to, well…, shall I say the typical Hollywood sci-fi stretches-of-logic as in the distances these folks traveled via foot given the topography changes and resulting racial/cultural differentiation.
    Wasn’t at all bothered by the sizable gaps in technological advances between these populations given that the ‘aqueduct-and-home-plumbing-building Romans’ lived with plumbing-challenged ‘neighbors’ such as Germanic hordes, tribes, Huns, Vandals, Visigoths, etc.
    In fact, this film could be used to introduce ADD-prone audiences to concepts much better explored and documented in Jared Diamond’s, “Guns, Germs & Steel”.
    Overall, by being a lot less annoying than “Cloverfield”, “10,000 BC” was a more enjoyable watch for me. I’ll take a dredlocked and palette-rich cast driven by their folklore and terrorized by saber-tooth beasties over whiny 20-something gen-X’ers driven by ‘it’s-all-about-me’itis and terrorized by a flea-bitten gen-xzilla.

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