Monday, December 14, 2009

“10,000 B.C.” – What Planet Are We On?

What does Roland Emmerich do with his time in between making his movies? Let’s examine what we’ve gotten from him as a writer, director, and producer (pertaining to movies where he filled at least two of those three roles) and see if we can spot a trend. “Stargate” in 1994, “Independence Day” in 1996, “Godzilla” in 1998, and “The Day After Tomorrow” in 2004. Let’s see…it’s obvious he likes science fiction, he has multiple years in between projects, and he manages to get huge budgets from the studios. In looking at this, I would guess he spends a substantial amount of time researching the subjects he intends to include in his stories, or reading science fiction books. Considering it took him six years to create the scientific joke known as the “The Day After Tomorrow,” I shouldn’t have expected any more from him in his latest endeavor, “10,000 B.C.,” since he only had four years to work out what our ancestors were like, but I went into this movie with a positive feeling. Wow, was I disappointed.

The biggest mistake Emmerich made was with the title. 10,000 B.C. implies that this story takes place on Earth 12,000 years ago. We expected to get a glimpse of a story from the beginning of human history, but what we got instead was a prequel to “Stargate.” At least now we know how that damned pyramid got built. Furthermore, this couldn’t possibly be Earth because there are no rainforests I am aware of where you can see snow covered, rocky mountains while standing in that forest. Finally, this planet must be tiny because our hero crosses snow covered mountains, rainforests, jungles, plains, and a desert without growing any facial hair. And I’m fairly certain that they didn’t have razors at the end of the last ice age.

The most important aspect of a movie for me is the plot. If the story is sound and doesn’t leave loose ends, I can forgive some of the smaller errors typical of big budget movies and simply enjoy it. This is all I wanted from this movie, since I had no idea what the plot was, based on the previews I had seen. All I knew was that it was a long time ago, and there were going to be saber-toothed tigers and mammoths. What I got was “The Odyssey.” It’s obviously a great story, but now we know that Emmerich did not spend his four years writing a plot.

First, I have to say I hate it when movies have a prophecy, but don’t give it to you. The prophecy is the plot. How do you not tell the audience what it is? Especially when you have a fucking narrator (I am not making this up). This was one of the biggest flaws with the three recent Star Wars movies. When the characters are having conversations about prophecies, it pisses us off when we, as the audience, are not let in on the secret. The movie begins with a little girl being found by the hero’s tribe and bringing her to their witch doctor/medicine woman, whom they call Old Mother. She says something about a last hunt and that the girl will change their way of life. Unfortunately, she’s gyrating and mumbling through it, so we’re lucky to have caught any of the prophecy at all. During the journey, another tribe tells the hero they have a prophecy of a man who can talk to spear-tooth cats. Near the end, the weird pseudo-Egyptians (rejects from “300”) speak of a prophecy having to do with a scar. To anyone one who was conscious, it’s obvious that these are all supposed to be the same prophecy, but we never get the full story. If you’re going to force a narrator on us, have the decency to have the prophecy recited. Otherwise, don’t bother.

Another glaring problem with this movie is the technological differences between the villains and everyone else. Since this is supposed to be Earth, it’s safe to say the villains are the Egyptians of between 1000 and 2000 B.C. They have knowledge of agriculture, are building pyramids, have monstrous sailboats, can manipulate metals, and have mounted soldiers. Although, on the negative side, they have terrible hygiene (their fingernails are gigantic) and they employ mentally challenged mutants to advise their self-appointed god. The rest of the planet’s inhabitants are tribal at best, think men on horseback are demons, think sailboats are giant birds, and are too stupid to follow their main food supply (mammoths), while living high in the snowy mountains. Guess who wins the final apocalyptic battle. Yeah, I hate Hollywood too. I like an underdog as much as the next person, but this is utterly absurd. I refuse to believe that this group of inferior people is the same group of people who got lost in the desert looking for the pyramid, when they were told that it lies at the head of the snake. They knew the snake was the river and they just saw their people being carried off by the “giant birds.” Follow the river, morons. I guess they just needed a challenge.

This trek was another interesting problem. As I stated earlier, the hero crosses no less than four major pieces of terrain with no supplies and very little clothing on his trek to rescue the girl. Not only would they have been dead within a couple of weeks, but they cover what has to be hundreds, if not thousands of miles, in just a few days. Not to mention that the villains do the same thing. And since we know mammoths (called Mimeks… I don’t even have a joke here) don’t live in the desert, we have to assume they were herded there by those same villains. Does your head hurt yet? It should, because we’ve gone beyond stupid here.

The final insult is the fulfillment of the prophecy. Which prophecy? Old Mother’s prophecy, smart ass. She predicted that their way of life would be changed forever and she was right. Before returning to their village, one of their comrades gives them a bag of…wait for it…corn. Yes, corn. This tribe, who spent all of their time hunting, learns how to farm by being given a bag of corn seeds. No instructions, no helpful hints, just a bag of seeds. And they plant them back at their home in the fucking snowy mountains. But there is a bright side. We know that another self-proclaimed god shows up to enslave them. At least until Kurt Russell shows up.

Rating: Stop giving your money away for no reason and get back as much as you can for this movie.

1 comment:

  1. On the DVD there's an alternate ending where the narrator is revealed as the young boy that left the village with them to save the girl. He is much older sitting by a fire showing that the entire movie, he's been telling this story to a bunch of kids. Thus the lack of knowledge of the specific words of the prophecies. All be not his own people's.