Running Time: 109 mins
Rated: Rated M (moderate violence)
The trouble with prehistoric stories is that we know they have to be made up since there are no records. All during the 20th century there were all kinds of films from 'lands that time forgot' about 'people that time forgot', locations in 'the valley of Gwangi' and even Raquel Welch in One Million Years BC. Which means that the present contender for prehistoric film champion comes 990,000 years later!
This is the kind of film that 'sophisticated' types look down their noses at. And they will do so with this one. Risking lack of sophistication, I found myself enjoying 10.000 BC much more than expected - although distractions like thinking that the first part was like John Ford's The Searchers or that the latter part was like a less blood and gory Apocalypto compensated with cinema buffery.
Omar Sharif, with his characteristic accent and tone, is the narrator. He takes us back into unsophisticated times of hunters who relied on the mammoths for food and hides. (One German journalist, perhaps making this up before he saw the film, called it a mammoth failure! - which, of course, it isn't.) They also believe in rituals and mystical identification with leaders and spiritual myths.
Reality intrudes after a rousing computergraphics mammoth hunt and stampede (well worth seeing) and a group of slavers capture the hunters. The hero, not always heroic but learning to mature (Steven Strait), pursues the captives, especially the special woman (Camilla Belle) who is a focus of prophecy. Cliff Curtis is the wise mentor and Nat Baring the adolescent runaway.
All this happens in the snow clad mountains of New Zealand's south island which looks quite majestic. The transition is to the jungle (filmed in South Africa) where computergraphics produce monstrous ravenous birds and a giant sabre-toothed tiger. Later (in the dunes of Namibia), they encounter a tribe of hunter-gatherers and together they find the captives working as slaves (along with the mammoths again) on early days elaborate palaces and pyramids.
Battle ensues with a cast of computer thousands, all spectacular (along with the mammoths which are a real attraction) and, finally, the hunters return home with seeds for crops and the next era is under way.
It was directed by Roland Emmerich who has been into spectacles in all eras with Stargate, Independence Day, Godzilla and The Day After Tomorrow as well as having Mel Gibson beat the British as The Patriot in the War of Independence.
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Fr Peter Malone MSC directs the film desk of SIGNIS: the World Association of Catholic Communicators, and is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.