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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