10,000 BC (WB, 2008) D: Roland Emmerich, w/ Steven Strait, Camilla Belle. Rating: NN; DVD package: NNN
This is no apocalypto. Yes, it shares a premise with Mel Gibson’s Mayan mayhem epic, namely primitive hunter-gatherer battles primitive city guys who’ve abducted his people. But director Roland Emmerich, the lummox who made the world’s only boring Godzilla movie, lacks Gibson’s energy, love of violence and sense of spectacle. What he does have is a love of pretty pictures, pleasantly bland actors and a decent sense of pacing, so things move along in a mildly engaging manner.
He’s also got monsters. The CG mammoths and sabre-toothed cat are highly cool, but the giant birds in the middle are just a laughably obvious substitute for somebody’s wished-for dinosaurs.
The sabre-toothed cat gives the movie its only worthwhile extra, a 45-minute National Geographic documentary on the beast that goes into exquisite detail on its immense fangs and their precise function. It’s worth the price of a rental all by itself. The alternate ending only gives you more prophecies. There’s never been a movie with so many prophecies driving the plot. I think they’re meant to add weight to the notion that the god-king behind the abductions is really an alien from outer space.
In the end, our hunter-gatherers receive the gift of agriculture. That’s not a spoiler; it’s an irrelevant detail out of nowhere, but it’s presented as a great benefit. I’m not so sure. Typical hunter-gatherers work about 20 hours a week at varied and skilled tasks. Farmers work endlessly. More to the point: no agriculture means no cities, which means no Hollywood and, thus, no snoozers like this.
EXTRAS Disc one: alternate ending, additional scenes. Widescreen and full-screen. English, French, Spanish audio and subtitles. Disc two: National Geographic sabre-toothed cat doc. Widescreen.