Review by Paul Stathakis | 2008

Make way for the hunter

10, 000 B.C.” is an adven­ture — not just an action pic­ture but a film which takes view­ers through jun­gles, moun­tains, and deserts, in day and in night, in the heat, and in the cold. Along the way, the main char­ac­ters are chal­lenged by large dinosaur-like birds that are not only men­ac­ing because of their quick­ness when they attack but because the team in charge of the spe­cial effects have ren­dered them so accu­rate­ly. Juras­sic Park now has competition.

The film was direct­ed by Roland Emmerich, an accom­plished Ger­man direc­tor who is known for his pre­vi­ous action fea­tures “Inde­pen­dence Day” (1996), “The Patri­ot” (2000), and “The Day After Tomor­row” (2004). “10, 000 B.C.” is not any dif­fer­ent from oth­er recent epic films. No it does­n’t break any new ground or present any new rev­o­lu­tion­ary spe­cial effects but the action sequences suc­ceed at height­en­ing the excite­ment. They are put togeth­er flaw­less­ly and they’re beau­ti­ful to watch on a big screen — espe­cial­ly a scene that puts the hero and a saber-tooth tiger nose-to-nose or the encounter with the birds who hide in the weeds and strike unex­pect­ed­ly. Exhilarating.

The pre­his­toric film fol­lows the jour­ney of D’Leh (Steven Strait), a young mam­moth hunter who ven­tures through mys­te­ri­ous ter­ri­to­ries to secure the future of his tribe. He is also dri­ven to hunt down war­lords who raid­ed his vil­lage and kid­napped the love of his life — Evo­let (Camil­la Belle). The sto­ry does some­times lose track of its orig­i­nal premise and a few sub­plots harm its pro­gres­sion. But the film is quick, sharp, and it lifts off the ground at the right moments. The bat­tles sur­face just as we begin to yearn for some action and the end­ing is pleas­ant enough to sus­tain our hunger for a hap­py ending.

Strait, a rel­a­tive­ly unknown actor, is a believ­able hero. Just as Kirk Dou­glas was right for Spar­ta­cus and Rus­sell Crowe for Max­imus in Glad­i­a­tor, Strait car­ries the task of hero on his shoul­ders with com­fort. He com­fort­ably deliv­ers a note­wor­thy per­for­mance that nuances his ear­li­er films which are not near­ly as impor­tant as “10, 000 B.C.” Cer­tain scenes rely on Strait’s act­ing. He is put to the test in con­fronta­tion­al scenes and he must react with tears in one of them. He gets an A for his work.

Of course, “10, 000 B.C.” is a fic­tion­al film and it is impor­tant to under­line that fact. Those who go into the movie expect­ing a fac­tu­al sto­ry based on his­tor­i­cal events may be dis­ap­point­ed. The film presents an epoch in his­to­ry or present view­ers with factual/historical infor­ma­tion. The film deals with fic­tion­al char­ac­ters on fic­tion­al mis­sions. But it suc­ceeds, not on the lev­el of action, it has a nice love sto­ry and action scenes that are effec­tive with­out expos­ing any real grue­some images. And the panora­mas are stun­ning. Towards the end of the film, the hunter and his tribes­men arrive the con­struc­tion site of pyra­mids that reach into the skies (sim­i­lar to the pyra­mids of Geza in Egypt). The action shifts into high gear with ele­phants run­ning down the con­structs and tram­pling some of the slave work­ers. Unlike Mel Gib­son’s “Apoc­a­lyp­to”, there are sel­dom any vio­lent images. A great deal of the action hap­pens fast enough and the edit­ing does a good job at hid­ing what would oth­er­wise be very hard for some view­ers to stomach.

2008 will be a year filled with adven­ture. “Indi­ana Jones and the King­dom of the Crys­tal Skull” and “The Chron­i­cles of Nar­nia: Prince Caspi­an” are two exam­ples of antic­i­pat­ed action movies. They are sched­uled to land in the­aters this year and we can only hope that they will be as engag­ing and excit­ing as “10, 000 B.C.” The film requires a sus­pen­sion of belief and real­i­ty, much like “300” and the “Lord of the Rings” tril­o­gy, and it asks us to sit-in on the fun and to be tak­en by the images. I did and the results were sur­pris­ing­ly rewarding.


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