10,000 B.C. & r & & r & by LUKE BAUMGARTEN & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & W & lt;/span & riter/director Roland Emmerich is a simple man with simple, revolving desires. Sometimes, he wants his films to be about Egypt [I'm putting these patterns in bold to help those of you scoring at home] like Stargate. Sometimes, he wants them to be about aliens (Stargate, Independence Day). Sometimes, he likes them to be about survival in the face of world-rocking cataclysms (The Day After Tomorrow, Godzilla, the upcoming 2012). Often, he gives these films titles that are just really big numbers. For his latest project, 10,000 B.C., he tried his hardest to gather all those desires under one roof.
It's a roof thatched with inexplicable decisions, tangled logic and simplistic motivations.
The idea is this: Back in the way back, there lived a group of mammoth hunters, borderline Neanderthal types, who were living a Spartan but happy existence killing big hairy elephants, fornicating like bunnies and existing in a social hierarchy similar to that of modern-day chimps. These are our heroes. They have dreadlocks and janky teeth. Emmerich assigns a certain unbathed nobility to the simplicity of their lives.
There's a prophesy among these people of a blue-eyed girl who will both herald the end of their way of life and point the way to their salvation. Not long after she and her true love (our hero) come of age, the blue-eyed girl and most of the village are kidnapped by slave traders and sold -- after a long, annoying chase -- to the Egyptians, as cheap labor to build their pyramids(1) [10,000 B.C. is a film so bad its review needs footnotes]. The Egyptians, it is rumored, came from beyond the stars. Or at least their triumvirate of alien leaders did. (Spoiler alert: It's not clear, but the "aliens" appear just to be white people.) It falls upon our hero to lead an army(2) against the Aliens/Egyptians/Whitey.
The film isn't just a mash of really bad ideas. It's a rehash of all the bad ideas Emmerich ever had ... and tried in the past ... and failed to pull off. Emmerich's next project is another big number, 2012, named for the speculative apocalypse said to accompany the end of the Mayan calendar. Sitting through 10,000 B.C., I found myself hoping the end would come much sooner. Like, in time to relieve me of my suffering.
There are repeated references to this story being passed down through the generations as the "legend of the Blue-Eyed Child." Emmerich's penchant for gravity, grandiosity and, most of all, self-aggrandizement have inclined him to cloak an obviously bullshit story in the shroud of mythology. Myths, though, survive across generations only when the story is worth passing down. This particular legend won't even outlive the DVD. There's nothing of value here. (Rated PG-13)
1 The first pyramids weren't built until 2,500 B.C. The ones on display in this film -- the ones being built by slaves and subjugated mammoths (?!) -- came much later, meaning Emmerich picked the title 10,000 B.C. for no other reason than the hugeness and roundness of the number itself. Ridiculous. But not as ridiculous as the overdubbed demon-growl (a la the aliens in Stargate!) that he inexplicably gives one of the slave traders.
2 It's a band of only three at first, but it grows to a force of thousands as he tracks the slavers from the mountains of what looks like Argentina, through the bamboo forests of what could only be southeast Asia, to the banks of the mighty Nile.