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10,000 BC (2008)
Director: Roland Emmerich

review by Eric Turowski

This one looked a lot like Marcus Nispel's Pathfinder (2007), an action-filled, blood-spattered pseudo-historic epic with no sign of big-name actors. In spite of plot-holes large enough to pilot a super-tanker through, there is a certain satisfaction in cheesy entertainment trying to stitch together a bunch of bad science to make you believe you're actually viewing a possible crisis from a prehistoric era. Yes it's all very stupid, but it's also very fun - hey, it's a fantasy flick, right?

Without spoiling too much, we are assuming this film takes place in Africa (from the final reels, nuff said), which in days of yore contained no woolly mammoths (these were Eurasian and North American ice age critters), smilodons, (big-necked sabre toothed cats - North American, once again... there were other sabre-toothed cats in other parts of the world, but we're looking at smilodon californicus here my friends), nor terror birds (South American predators that eventually made it as far north as Florida before being wiped out by predators coming southward). So all animals in this film are absolutely anachronistic, as is the material from the film's conclusion (but that would spoil it).

Be that as it may, the plot is straightforward fare. A tribe of mountain-dwelling Palaeolithic folks are starving to death, waiting for mammoth migration so they might eat. D'leh (Stephen Strait) is a young man of the tribe, looked down upon because his father abandoned the tribe years before. He has the hots for Evolet (Camilla Belle) because she has goggly blue eyes and freckles. D'leh becomes the Chosen One (the prophecy says the Chosen One marries goggly-eyes), accidentally, during a mammoth hunt gone awry. Tribesmen begin to have a bad feeling about his ability to defeat the Almighty (sound familiar? Yes, it's a fantasy film).

Four-legged demons arrive (harbingers of the Almighty) and capture tribe members, including, of course, Evolet. D'leh, of course, pursues the four-legged demons (actually steel-wielding men on horseback) from mountain to desert to jungle to, well, desert again. Along the way, D'leh puts together an army of disgruntled ancient folks who have had family members kidnapped by the equestrian guys. Anachronistic dangerous-animal encounters ensue, and our band of united disgruntled cavemen experiment with navigation by the stars and dying of dehydration. Somehow, they blunder into the camp of the bad horse guys, and the recent dearth of mammoth and enslavement of Palaeolithic people sort of starts to make sense at the site of a big construction project (condos, I think they were). It turns into a spoiler from here on out, so just go see it.

I've read a lot of reviewers downplaying the CGI in this movie, but apparently none of them saw Hellboy (or Return Of The Jedi, Pitch Black, Crocodile 2: Death Swamp, and all the other blue CGI monsters that were kind of blurry). For me, the mammoths at the beginning of the film looked real enough that I was reminded of dogs and cats and other animals I am more acquainted with. This is a good sign that the CGI animals look and behave like real animals. The rest of the giant man-eating beasts were just as much fun. And for all the writers who griped about the film being cliché-ridden, quite frankly I can't think of anything more clichéd than a bunch of movie critics griping about a caveman-monster flick. Please! (And since you get the nerd version of the critique, you get the much better scientific complaints about monsters out of time and place so you can wow your less-read friends).

The inclusion of Raquel Welch would have garnered a full five-star review (and for the fervent fan of the mega-fauna, you may remove one star), but if you like fantasy films on an epic scale, you owe it to yourself to take peek. I will go as far as recommending a double-feature DVD night with friends (and lots of beer) with 10,000 BC and Pathfinder - see if you can tell them apart after a half-dozen pints.
10,000 BC

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