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Sunday, March 09, 2008

10,000 B.C.

My perfect husband, Fred, attempted a wee bit of humor this week that resulted in an ugly indiscretion on his part which might have resulted in a demotion to “almost perfect husband” had he not apologized profusely immediately after and then showered me with kisses. It came when he asked what movie I was planning to see over the weekend at the Essex Cinemas. “10,000 B.C.” I replied.

Without missing a beat, he blankly said from behind his morning newspaper “Or, as you would call it, ‘Sophomore Year.’

Being snide does not become him. And it is so not true. I was barely in high school around then, and I only admit to that, Dear Readers, because I feel compelled to always share with you the truth, and nothing but the truth. On that note, I’m sorry to tell you that’s NOT something you are going to find in
10,000 B.C., the movie. What you are going to get is a fantasy with about as much relationship to reality as ol’ water boarding George W has on any given day, which isn’t much.

This isn’t to say
10,000 B.C. isn’t fun, in a popcorn movie sort of way, but, let’s face it, everybody knows that mammoths were only 12 to 16 feet high, not the 20 foot high gargantuans Director Roland Emmerich would have you believe. Okay, so my neighbor Evelyn Friedlander had that one 18 footer named Fluffy, but I swear she was feeding him human growth hormones, which in those days meant feeding him the hormones straight from inside the humans ~ usually from some unfortunate Homo floresiensis which were still scurrying around. Alright, technically they weren’t human, but neither are my in-laws; still we make allowances.

Anyway, for anyone who knows diddly about science, 10,000 B.C. will be a laugh-riot comedy of errors and it well deserves to be. For novices, it will be an interesting enough sort of semi-nerotic version of The Flintstones with (thank God!) no Rosie O’Donnell, although there are several lookalikes during the mammoth stampede that might confuse the average viewer, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

For the BC uninitiated,
10,000 B.C. alleges to be a time of multiple cultures, all in varying degrees of development. Our story follows an amazingly buff and GQ beautiful young man named D’Leh (Steven Strait; The Covenant). I don’t know if Steven is “strait” but from the way he moves it is obvious to everyone in his village he is “d’leh” all the women want. Fortunately, that honor is destined to be filled by Evolet (Camilla Belle; When a Stranger Calls) as it was so deemed by the local million year old hag (Mona Hammond; Kinky Boots) who appears to have walked in off the set of Dances with Wolves and thinks she is an American Indian shaman. I’m not sure how this fits into the overall scheme of things, but she tells everyone that the blue-eyed Evolet belongs to the hunter with the big white spear and that is D’Leh.

Hey! I’ve had complaints that my column is laced with sexual innuendo, but you can’t blame me for this one. Blame the writers, those being Director Roland Emmerich and Harald Kloser (co-writers
of The Day After Tomorrow). As for the white part, I guess it is significant only from the interesting historical perspective put forth by Emmerich and his casting team. You see, D’Leh’s tribe is all white (except for the Indian shaman, Old Mother), and the “good” tribes he meets along the way are all black or Asian-looking. The “evil” guys all look Iraqi, Arabian, or some other mixture of Middle Eastern descent. He is as subtle as if they all wore name labels. It’s curious, then, that Emmerich persuaded Egyptian actor Omar Sharif to narrate the tale, but he did. Oh, and speaking of subtle, “Dleh” spelled backwards is the German word for “hero”, so, in a sense, Emmerich, being German himself, did sneak in a name label. “Hi, I’m the Hero!”

So blah, blah, blah, long story short Old Mother (the Indian seer, who must have hated her parents for saddling her with that name as she was growing up) predicts dire circumstances for their tribe after the last hunt. Uh, hello. They live in the friggin’ Alps or someplace like that. It’s like living in lean-tos in Vermont in February wearing only bikinis. What do they expect? But before you can say “cold cajones” along comes a (get this) horse-riding horde of what appear to be Vikings that carry off half the village, including young blue-eyes, so it is up to D’leh to lead a small rescue posse on a trek to find the kidnapped villagers and his sweetie.

This is when
10,000 B.C. really gets going, in all its historical hysteria. Soon, they pass through treacherous mountains, a vast desert, prairie lands, a jungle, and more deserts. I’m telling you, these boys can walk! And you think they’ve got it bad? The prisoners are being prodded along by the captors while chained together and handcuffed. That’s right. All those stories about hunters and gatherers just beginning to use stone tools around this time? P-Shaw, I say! These folks make The Flintstones look primitive by comparison. Wait’ll you see their fancy pirate ships! And no, I’m not kidding.

Along the way, D’Leh plays all the parts from The Wizard of Oz. He learns to use his brain, discovers how much his heart is filled with love, musters enormous courage against a plethora of enemies, both human and critter, and discovers, naturally, that there is no place like home. Throughout this adventure D’Leh runs into various villages and peoples of different races and styles of architecture, dress, customs, and yet in all cases they have at least some members who speak perfect, if slightly faux-British accented, English, just like D’Leh and his people. No grunts, grumbles, or sign language. This, we learn, is thanks to D’Leh’s long-lost daddy, who apparently was willing to abandon his motherless son when he was a toddler to become the world’s first Peace Corps volunteer, going abroad to teach English to foreigners wherever he could.

I particularly loved the one tribe D’Leh visited that had darling round stone homes
with thatched roofs. Unfortunately, they were all painted the same dull white. With a little pastel here and there th
e village would look exactly like the Munchkin Village sans a yellow brick road, and dare I say D’Leh would look dreamy trading in those basic sandals for a pair of ruby slippers just before traipsing through the jungle to come. The truth be told, and here’s your educational moment of the day, it was Paleolithic cave dwellers that first mixed clay pigments with spit and urine to create paint. I’m not sure what these folks used (bird poo?), but by 10,000 B.C. you’d think these yokels could have come up with something besides Seagull crap white or pee pee yellow.

Now I don’t want to spoil the plot of the movie for you, and, trust, me, there’s more plot than these writers know what to do with, because it jams bits of Apocalypto, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Jurassic Park, The Prince of Egypt, Pirates of the Caribbean, and even a hint of The Bible into the mix. You think I’m making this up, but trust me. This is a cave man movie that includes a saber-toothed tiger with a heart of gold, a fleet of pirate slave ships, something that looks like the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas, pyramids, and even way-out-of-season velociraptors (which died out about 70 million years before the period
represented in the movie, but why quibble with facts at this point?).

Like I said at the beginning, if you don’t mind excusing history and abandoning what is factual, then 10,000 B.C. can be loads of fun. I enjoyed the CGI that created most of the crowds, the evil slave masters’ city, and the gazillions of ant-sized slaves at work for the “Almighty” behind the plot that brought D’leh on his quest.

On the good side, there is very little realistic violence and virtually no bloodshed, sex or profanity, so as would-be-scary as you might think it is, the truth is that kids of all ages can see it. On the other hand, this is history for the Paris Hilton generation, those who consider “Beavis and Butthead” a great event in ancient American history, back when Michael Jackson or George Michael or somebody like that was President. It is basically crap, albeit it entertaining crap, but it's crap all the same.

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