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Movie Review

Yabba-dabba-don't

Silly but fun '10,000 B.C.' follows a well-trodden trail into the Stone Age

Email|Print| Text size + By Ty Burr
Globe Staff / March 7, 2008

Came a time, saith the old tales, when the great ice sheets retreated and early man advanced upon the earth — a new man, named Homo Hollywoodus for the stylishness of his dreadlocks (extensions by Trog) and for the perfection of the teeth of his women (caps by Dr. Gnar of Beverly Hills). And, lo, these new people did hunt the woolly mammoth and the ‘‘spear-toothed’’ tiger and did follow much too closely the plot laid down by the great shaman Mel Gibson in ‘‘Apocalypto.’’ And they did call this new movie ‘‘10,000 B.C.,’’ and it was awfully dopey but also kind of fun.

Now, verily, there have been earlier sagas of Homo Hollywoodus, notably ‘‘One Million B.C.’’ in 1940 and ‘‘One Million Years B.C.’’ in 1966, and they, too, did figure beautiful %cavewomen with good skin and non-period cleavage. But I saith to you that ‘‘10,000 B.C.’’ is not a remake except in silliness of spirit, and I also say to you that I have looked upon Camilla Belle as Evolet and can say that, yea, she ain’t no Raquel Welch.

But let us talk of brave men: D’Leh (Steven Strait), a hunter of the Yagahl tribe in the remotest mountaintops, where only the mammoths come, of reasonably convincing computer-graphic aspect. His name, say the marketing gods, is the German word for ‘‘hero’’ spelled backward, so does that not indeed make it so? With the coming of four-legged demons from the south — suspiciously Arabic marauders on horseback foreseen by Old Mother (Mona Hammond) — the blue-eyed Evolet is taken prisoner along with others of the Yagahl, and D’Leh waxeth wroth, for he loves Evolet even more than his white spear. (Which is a totem of power, so getteth thy mind out of the gutter.)

And thus a band of manly men set forth on a heroic quest, among them D’Leh, the aging warrior Tic’Tic (Cliff Curtis), whose name causeth much giggling in the audience, the young rival Ka’Ren (Mo Zinal), and Baku (Nathanael Baring), hereafter known as The Kid. And, verily, the earth’s continents must have been closer together, since it was possible in those days to travel from snowy peaks to jungle rainforests to barren desert sands as if these climes were no farther apart than subway stops.

And it should be noted, too, that the Yagahl speak English in stiff archaic fashion, much as I am writing, and that the African tribes encountered by them speak an ancient movie tongue called Oogabooga. And if you say, fie, this cannot be, I say woe betide he who cometh to such a film expecting paleoanthropological accuracy or political correctness, for he will returneth home sorely vexed and out $10.50.

Now you will look upon this movie and say, critic, it is a bad movie. How can it not be so when our hero falls into a pit of sharpened stakes and striketh none and indeed befriends a trapped saber-toothed tiger — he of massive but bogus CGI — by speaking gently unto it?

How can a film that features a poorly shot attack by giant tree-climbing killer chickens be said to be good? Which rippeth off the ending of ‘‘Apocalypto,’’ pyramid and all, such that the great shaman Mel Gibson could sue?

And I saith to you, verily, it is a bad movie, with foolish racial politics, and indeed it may someday be spoken of as the worst of the year 2008. But I also saith to you that I had a strangely good time, and whether that is from laughing at ‘‘10,000 B.C.’’ or laughing with it I knoweth not, although I strongly suspect the former.

And it should be pointed out that Roland of the clan of Emmerich, who hath fashioned this tale, hath not ascended once more to the level of ‘‘Independence Day’’ but hath instead settled comfortably in the Valley of the Saturday Matinee B-Movie, a land once inhabited by giants named Roger Corman and 1950s special-effects magician Ray Harryhausen, whom the giant killer chickens doth seem to honor in their stop-motion jerkiness.

So, yea, it is a stinker. But it is prophesied that in six months time you shall come across ‘‘10,000 B.C.’’ in the land of Pay-Per-View. And you shall say: ‘‘Pass the popcorn.’’

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