Popcorn with Artificial Butter
Starring: Steven Strait, Camilla Belle
and Cliff Curtis
Audience: Teenagers and adults
Runtime: 109 minutes
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Director: Roland Emmerich
Executive Producer: Sarah Bradshaw, Tom
Karndowski, Thomas Tull, and
Producer: Roland Emmerich, Harold
Kloser, Michael Wimer, and
Writer: Roland Emmerich and Harold
Address Comments To:Jeffrey Bewkes, CEO
Barry M. Meyer, Chairman/CEO
Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
(A Time Warner company)
4000 Warner Blvd.
Burbank, CA 91522-0001
Phone: (818) 954-6000
The little Yagahl tribe lives sheltered in the high mountains. The tribe survives on killing mastodons, but the mastodons are getting fewer and fewer. The rightful leader of the tribe, who carried the white spear, seems to have abandoned the tribe. People take out their anger against his young son, D’Leh. The Old Mother prophetess tells the tribe that a blue-eyed child will come, and she will be saved by a great hero who will save the tribe. They think the great hero is going to come from the outside, but the viewer learns quickly that D’Leh will fall for the young girl child, Evolet, and that he is the hero.
When D’Leh and Evolet are both grown, there is a mastodon hunt, and D’Leh singlehandedly kills the mastodon, earning him the white spear. He gives it back to TicTic because he says he killed the mastodon by an accident and then lied about it. In giving back the white spear, he gives up his right to claim Evolet, the blue-eyed girl. Evolet is shocked. He tells her he loves her but he couldn’t live a lie.
The slave traders, dressed like Muslims, come on horses and capture some of the tribe, including Evolet. D’Leh, TicTic and two others go to rescue their kinsmen. They have to cross over mammoth mountains, encounter saber-tooth tigers and giant raptor birds. They rescue and then lose Evolet to the slave traders. Eventually, D’Leh and his growing army of tribes who want their kinsmen back from the slavers makes their way across the inhospitable desert to the great pyramid being built by the Almighty, who is the last of three people who came from beyond the stars (in a nod to the loony UFO theories of Erich von Daniken) or from a lost civilization such as Atlantis. D’Leh and the others realize that they are too few to fight the civilized throngs. So, D’Leh’s army needs to figure out how to instigate a slave revolt to rescue Evolet and fulfill the prophecy… or not.
10,000 B.C. moves briskly. The sound and camerawork are terrific. There are several jump out of your seat moments in the animal attacks and in the battles.
That said, my late friend Gene Roddenberry pointed out if you’re going to create a fantastic world, you have to obey the laws of that world. So Gene took a lot of time to create the controls of the Starship Enterprise in STAR TREK, placing dirt on the controls and making everyone learn what all the buttons did.
In contrast in 10,000 B.C., many details have been neglected. There are so many that are so obvious that the final conclusion of several reviewers at the screening was that the movie was silly. D’Leh’s small band trek across the frozen Alpine mountains with practically no clothes and no shoes. They go through the desert without even the slightest sunburn. They travel without eating. Evolet and D’Leh look as fresh and beautiful at the end of the movie as at the beginning. And, of course, there are hundreds of mastodons helping to build the pyramids. How did the mastodons get across the desert? What do they eat?
There are other interesting incongruities. D’Leh is joined by many different African tribes to fight the slave traders wearing turbans who look like modern Muslims. Are contemporary Muslims going to like this? And, do the Africans still need the great white hope that D’Leh offers to fulfill the prophecy of the blue-eyed child? This is a lot of money to spend on such a thin storyline.
Even so, it is exciting, entertaining. Also, it extols honesty when D’Leh confesses to the tribe, and it promotes chastity when D’Leh and the head slave trader refuse to take advantage of Evolet. It also promotes loyalty and courage. Finally, Steven Strait does a good job as D’Leh, but Camilla Belle as Evolet is somewhat superficial.
Overall, therefore, 10,000 B.C. is not a terrible movie, but it is the type of movie that makes one want to see something with a little more substance and coherence, like KING SOLOMON’S MINES, JURASSIC PARK, INDIANA JONES, or some of the fantastic tales of yesteryear.
Furthermore, despite the movie’s moral elements, it has a very strong Romantic worldview. This is a classical Rousseauian story about the noble savage who worships animal spirits and has the earth mother protecting him. He is wiser and better than the civilized, evil people. Rousseau was wrong, however. The savage is sinful not noble, and Christianity is the only civilizing influence. In Jesus Christ, there is no slave or free, male or female. In Jesus Christ, there is perfect peace that casts out the fear that drives the savage to revenge.
10,000 B.C. moves briskly. The sound and camerawork are terrific. There are several jump out of your seat moments during the action sequences. That said, the movie fails to focus on the details. Many details make no sense, to the point of being silly. For example, the men trek across the frozen Alps with practically no clothes and no shoes. Finally, the movie extols some virtues like courage, honesty and chastity but offers a very strong Romantic worldview of human nature and civilization.