10000 BC. The mammoth-sized blunder

Compared to the excellent Apocalypto, 10000 BC is a family tale.


10 February 2024

Roland Emmerich undoubtedly has his fans. It doesn’t surprise me much. After all, he makes flashy, visually appealing, often exciting cinema. The kind of cinema for which large screens, digital technology, and surround sound were created. Among his films, there are better ones and worse ones, but they are always works that don’t require much mental effort, aren’t necessarily logically coherent, and rely on the viewer’s shallowest emotions, ensuring that we’ll find in an Emmerich film bombastic speeches, flags (or totems) waving in the wind, plenty of cheesy dialogue lifting the spirits, and glorification of love, friendship, and patriotism. It’s such a formula, mandatory for Emmerich. It doesn’t matter whether he’s telling stories about parallel worlds, cosmic invasions, US history, sea monsters, or mammoth hunting.

Nobody has ever managed to teach me history. I didn’t particularly want to learn it myself, to be honest. Not even our closest or most recent history. I only remember absolutely crucial dates, like Grunwald (a necessary recipe for moonshine), Poland’s baptism, or the outbreak of world wars. And as for prehistory, I don’t know anything at all. Well, maybe just that dinosaurs lived in the Jurassic period, but I learned that from Uncle Spielberg and his park. So, anticipating my absolute historical incompetence and ignorance, I’ll explain that I’m not interested in the accuracy of Emmerich’s latest film with historical facts. I won’t delve into whether giant flightless birds resembling ostriches could have lived back then, and I’m not interested in who designed the blue dress of the beautiful Evolet, accentuating her interesting bust.

As everyone knows, Emmerich’s work, as the title suggests, takes us back to around 10000 BC. Where wild mountain tribes hunt mammoths, tribes deeply entrenched in superstitions and taboos. Where the survival of the community is practically the only purpose of existence. But, in reality, when and where the plot takes place doesn’t matter at all. It’s just a pretext, and worse yet – a weak one.

From the very beginning, for obvious reasons, the film brings to mind Gibson’s Apocalypto. Well, there’s no other way – these films need to be compared, so Gibson’s film title will appear in this text several more times. The starting point for the plot, its construction, and its course immediately bring Apocalypto to mind. A tribe is attacked by “four-legged demons,” Evolet – the beloved of D’Leh (the main character) – is kidnapped. A pursuit of the kidnappers begins, during which the landscape changes, and the number of characters increases – until the finale. That’s it, in a nutshell, because the film doesn’t offer much more.

Since we’ve mentioned Apocalypto, let’s remember what was strongest in Gibson’s film – the realism and naturalism of the depicted world. The characters were flesh and blood – believable. Wild, primitive, they seemed taken out of National Geographic. What do we have in 10000 BC? We have painted actors. Honestly, it wouldn’t make a difference to me if I saw the same people in war paint in one scene and then in neckties and hats in the next. There’s some theatricality, artificiality, it’s impossible to simply believe these people. Not to mention the fact that the characters speak beautiful English, but it’s hardly surprising – not everyone is as brave and hardworking as Mel Gibson, who cares about every detail. After all, every detail increases the sense of realism, allows us to forget that it’s just actors, sets, and effects. Emmerich didn’t succeed in the slightest, and I’ll even say more – he simply ignored the matter. It’s evident even from the casting. No one made an effort for these people to look like or even resemble representatives of prehistoric tribes. Just European or African American faces painted with crayons. And it’s a complete mockery to cast Cliff Curtis in one of the main roles. He’s as wild as I am a samurai. Moreover, his on-screen appearance exhibits a remarkable anomaly – facial hair doesn’t grow on his cheeks and neck – it’s always elegantly styled into a goatee like a musketeer. Unless my (lack of) knowledge of history is so great that I don’t know about Gillette factories existing 12,000 years ago. It’s very possible, after all, the Blend-a-med factory must have existed, because everyone – old, young, good, bad – has teeth as white and straight as keyboards.

My absolute favorites are the actors playing the roles of the evil kidnappers. I provisionally called them Pirate Barnabas and Pirate Boniface. When you watch it, you’ll know why. But if you don’t watch it, you won’t miss anything. Unless you absolutely want to see a CGI saber-toothed tiger or CGI mammoths running. If so, the trailer will be enough for you. There are also caricatured giant ostriches and some other birds. I didn’t notice any more fauna. It’s a pity, because mainly I went to the cinema for the views, creatures, and effects.

I mentioned something about the landscape. Well, first, we have some mountains (nothing special), then a jungle (it’s really green), and finally, an outdoor desert with pyramid-like buildings and similar. The latter is definitely the most spectacular, but what’s the point if practically the same thing was in Stargate. However, the entire film is crammed with dialogues that contribute nothing to the plot, moralizing nonsense, and poor mysticism. There’s, of course, the obligatory “he’ll surely find me, he promised” line. Generally, the screenplay, created jointly by the director and the composer (!), is a mammoth-sized blunder.

Lack of ideas, repetitiveness, negligence – grave sins. Even the final spear throw unequivocally brings to mind 300. Plus, there’s a distinctly Disney-like sensitivity to the viewer’s sensibilities – throughout the film, I saw only a few drops of blood. And there were opportunities for a bit of macabre, after all. It’s just a shame that everything is resolved so that nothing is visible. Compared to the excellent Apocalypto, 10000 BC is a family tale. I was deceived by the trailer, in which everything even slightly noteworthy was shown. I fell for this hundred-minute waste of time. Don’t let yourself do the same.



We're movie lovers who write for other movie lovers!

See other posts from this author >>>