10,000 B.C.

STARRING: Steven Strait, Camilla Belle, Cliff Curtis, Joel Virgel, Affif Ben Badra, Mo Zinal, Nathanael Baring and Mona Hammond

2008, 109 Minutes, Directed by:
Roland Emmerich

Roland Emmerich’s latest flick 10,000 B.C. follows a young hunter (Steven Strait) on his quest to lead an army across a vast desert, battling saber tooth tigers and prehistoric predators as he unearths a lost civilization and attempts to rescue the woman he loves (Camilla Belle) from an evil warlord determined to possess her.

Belle incidentally looks like Elizabeth Taylor in her prime and as with Cleopatra makes a worthy prize. Accidentally courageous Strait seeks the backbone to pursue and free her when she’s carried off.

Produced in London by Double Negative and Moving Picture Company, the visual effects are marvelous, particularly a scene of a saber-toothed tiger in water. Visual effects supervisor apparently Karen Goulekas joined 10,000 B.C. two years before start of principal photography, after working with the director Roland Emmerich on Godzilla and The Day After Tomorrow. Goulekas built a library of illustrations, photos and CG images from television shows as references for the film’s creatures.

She visited the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles to research on mammoths. At the Tala Game Reserve in Durban, South Africa, she shot HD footage of lions, tigers, leopards, elephants and ostriches. The images she gathered enabled the animators to study real animal movements from different angles.

The terror birds in the film are apparently flightless predators with huge beaks based on creatures that existed in South America.

"What’s with Omar Sharif's lispy voice-over narration?"

Cliff Curtis, the actor who plays Tic‘Tic in the movie, said in an interview that “there are predatory terror birds and saber-tooth tigers, and, of course, the mammoths, but the story also has a spiritual undertone to it, and I think that is the glue that holds it together.” Unfortunately, that spiritual undertone is spoken out loud as lispy narration by Omar Sharif.

Emmerich, known for directing such action films as Independence Day and Universal Soldier, relies heavily on voice-over narration in 10,000 B.C. If you can imagine Independence Day with a narrator explaining everything about Will Smith, you understand what went wrong with 10,000 B.C. The first twenty minutes of the film is mostly narrated exposition and could easily be dropped. Just get to the creatures already!

The pre-historic men, with their unkempt beards and dirty faces, look unflatteringly like the Geico caveman. Camilla Belle, on the other hand, looks hot. However, nothing in costumes (or better still lack of costumes) exposes any of her charms. Belle stays fully clothed, spending her screen time on sultry pouting and pining to be rescued. She could have done so much more.

With Omar Sharif narrating as Strait’s character goes in circles in the desert it’s of course hard not to think of Lawrence of Arabia. 10,000 B.C. seems to borrow from many films. At times it seems to be even reaching for Narnia, but it simply fails to utilize its hero cat and disappointingly little is seen of the saber-toothed tiger.

- Robin Rowe



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