10,000 BC (2008)

Rated: PG-13
Length: 109 minutes for sequences of intense action and violence.
Grade: C-C+C-C=C-
Budget: $105 million
Box Office: $292 million ($95 US, $174 Intl, $23 DVD)

Written and Directed by: Roland Emmerich, who made The Day After Tomorrow, The Patriot, Godzilla, Independence Day, Stargate, and (in the days before he could afford to say no) Universal Soldier.
Starring: Steven Strait, Camilla Belle, Cliff Curtis, Joel Virgel, Affif Ben Dadra, marco Khan, and narrated by Omar Sharif.

As the title indicates, this story of the human past follows a small village of hunters trying to survive with a diminishing food supply and then get attacked by a remote civilization, which takes many of their number back to work as slaves. But a prophecy says that one lucky youngster will triumph over evil and get the hot girl they kidnapped. Lucky guy.

Entertainment Value: C-
For all the budget and the effort, this movie falls flat by virtually everyone’s account. The main problem is that it continually feels fake and derivative, but it also refuses to embrace it’s inner ridiculous and become a total joke either, falling somewhere in between Apocalypto on the one hand and Conan the Barbarian on the other, and being worse than either. The weirdest choice was the one to have these barbarians with perfect skin and teeth all speak perfect English, although other tribes must be translated.

Superficial Content: C+
Drugs/Alcohol A, Sexuality B, Violence C, Language A, Illegality C
I guess I have to mark it down for being about pirates and forced slavery. But seriously, the violence is just right for PG-13, slightly gory tribal warfare stuff, but not nearly so awful as Apocalypto, and there are some semi-sexual scenes that amount to nothing much.

Significant Content: C-
Witchcraft and tribal voodoo stuff is real. The powerful have always tried to oppress the many through unjust means. People will do strange things for the sake of reputation and to avoid being perceived as cowardly. The one very good concept was the idea that the greatness of a man is determined by the size of the circle of his concern: self, family, nation, all mankind.

Artistic/Thought Value: C
Okay, so these guys are trekking across mountain ranges in the apparently freezing cold, but they’re too stupid to make hats? Maybe their ancient dreadlocks are enough. One positive note, they chose the title 10,000 BC rather than the more fashionable in academia 10,000 BCE. Good for that.

Discussion Questions:
~This movie seems to want to place itself into a real historical situation. What do you think of that attempt?
~Does the magnificence of the manmade wonders featured in this movie justify the methods used to make them? Should we be fascinated by things that were made by such morally outrageous methods? Should we destroy them? What do you think those who were forced to make them would say?
~Did this movie feel realistic to you? Can you identify elements of it that made this the case?
~If this movie had been told from the marauder captain’s perspective, could you have been made to feel sympathy for his viewpoint?
~What rituals of manhood do we have in our society? How important are such rituals to adult male identity?
~Which races are used in this movie and why did the director chose those particular ones?
Overall Grade: C-
Although you’ll have to endure a lot more gruesome violence, Apocalypto is much, much, much, much better in this genre.

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