Sunday, March 16, 2008

10,000 B.C.

Year: 2008
Director: Roland Emmerich
Cast: Steven Strait, Camilla Belle, Cliff Curtis, Joel Virgel, Nathanael Baring, Mona Hammond

When you want a film of huge scale and effects done right, you need to go see Roland Emmerich. He's the go-to guy if your film boasts huge sets and wondrous effects shots, and even if your script sucks, Roland will make your film look like a major blockbuster. Independence Day and Godzilla aren't exactly brain food, but you have to admit it's fun to watch.

Which brings us to Emmerich's new flick, 10000 B.C. Basically it's a film about heroism, being the chosen one, rising up against a tyrant, falling in love and saving your other half from death, becoming a leader of the oppressed and the list goes on. Just pick your favourite hero from the countless characters you've seen over the years in an action adventure flick, and chances are you'll see a part of him/her here.

In Emmerich's film, set in you-know-what-year, we focus on the Yagahl tribe, who are waiting for the last hunt for the woolly mammoth. It's a coming-of-age ritual for the young warriors of the tribe. D'leh, our young hero and protagonist, hopes to be the one to slay the great mammoth in order to claim his woman, Evolet. The tribe's ancient seer, Old Mother, predicts that the chosen one will be Evolet's other half and become the leader of the tribe in the future. But why Evolet? Because she is from a neighbouring tribe, that has been slaughtered by vicious warlords, and her presence among the Yagahl has a reason of its own.

Anyway, D'leh wins the ritual by luck, and though he gains the respect of his brethren, his mentor, Tic'Tic thinks otherwise. D'leh gives up Evolet in guilt, but then things take an even worser turn when the warlords attack his village and capture several of the Yagahl, and Evolet too. Now D'leh must travel across many hundred miles with his friends to rescue the girl he loves, and along the way learn about his destiny, the truth about his father who had left him when he was young, as well as his adversary at the end of the journey.

Emmerich knows how to make a movie of great scale. He makes alien spaceships look as big as a city in Independence Day. He makes a giant lizard stomp the Big Apple look real in Godzilla. He makes global warming a serious threat on film in The Day After Tomorrow. And here, he once again succeeds in making everything look authentic, from the vast landscapes to the creature effects, though the terror birds that look like oversized ostriches weren't very convincing.

However, where his previous films had at least hilarious dialogue to mask the corniness of his script, 10000 B.C. takes a different path. The dialogue is silly, humourless and disappointing. I know that people back in those days didn't use complex language, but if they're going to speak English for our benefit, at least let them say something worth saying. I think the dialogue should have been minimised, because the more the characters spoke, the sillier they appeared. And the Omar Sharif narration made it even worse. That should have been minimised too.

The acting is nowhere superb. Steven Strait is really new at this, for he doesn't have the screen presence to be D'leh, though his physique is spot on. The others do just as bad, but it's really the lines fed to them that made it more obvious. And the plot about D'leh leading the people to overthrow a self-proclaimed god was badly executed. I mean, the so-called God looks like a reject from an Asian horror flick, escorted by advisors that came from India. Weird.

There were 5 trailers that played before the film started: The Dark Knight, Hellboy II, The Chronicles Of Narnia: Prince Caspian, Iron Man and the new Indiana Jones film. I guarantee you that all those films will be better than 10000 B.C. Hell, I'd rather watch those 5 trailers again than go back to see this film. Emmerich falls short this year, seriously. (2.5/5)

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