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Warner Home Video presents
"I will come back for you. I promise."
DVD ReviewIt's hip and easy to kick action-meister Roland Emmerich to the curb, and even if his directorial gigs are relatively few and far between he has still managed to come up with the no-brain-required escapist goods when necessary. Perhaps not a finessed auteur or well acquainted the art of subtlety, Emmerich does, however, funnel ridiculous set piece on top of ridiculous set piece, and usually the result is something enjoyably watchable. Dumb, but watchable. Films like Independence Day, Stargate, and The Day After Tomorrow all had enough high caliber thrills and visual effects to feed a small impoverished nation, though the staggering miscue that was Godzilla will always be Emmerich's Waterloo.
With the completely askew history presented in 10,000 BC, Emmerich seems perfectly suited to deliver heaping mounds of the macho silliness the action-heavy trailer promised. I'm not even going to attempt to assign realism to any of the settings, languages, etc., because that would be like reading a superhero comic and suddenly not believing a man could fly. There are just some things one has to accept, and with Emmerich it is typically the notion that plot logic will be forsaken for the more base purpose of big-budget visuals.
Yet with that said, 10,000 BC stands as one of the largest wastes of film I've had the displeasure to endure in a long time, a pointless series of sequences that only occasionally reveal the sort of large budget action grandeur a film like needs to survive. I'll spot Emmerich the mass market convenience of having the main tribe speak English—as funny as it looks coming out of their mouths—but I'm flummoxed at why many of the other groups speak their own language (some subtitled, some not), which only enhances the unintentional humor of the whole thing. There's plenty of talk of ancient prophecies, white spears, a hint at something extraterrestrial, true love, and more loincloths than you can shake a stick at, but there's just no soul here. It's like a hollow, walking corpse of a movie.
Hunky hero D'Leh (Steven Strait) is a troubled warrior with some daddy issues, but he does have some mad mammoth hunting skills, and he's naturally smitten with mysterious blue-eyed beauty Evolet (Camilla Belle). And when she's abducted by some horse-riding invaders, D'Leh treks out with a few pals to get her back, which leads to some bonding with a gaggle of assorted other tribes, all of whom eventually arrive at a massive slave labor construction site in the desert, involving more mammoths, slow-motion running, a character known as "the almighty" and some comically fey priests. Emmerich's stab at a Chariots Of The Gods subtext lacks the dramatic pop it may have had during conception, and if it weren't for the CG mammoths, I might have thrown myself on a spear just to get it over with.
History be damned, but this film needs more creatures. I would welcome dinosaurs and who-knows-what, just to break up the interminable walking and stalking scenes. D'Leh's encounter with a truck-sized saber tooth tiger (boldly displayed on the cover) is brief, and almost seems like an afterthought. The arrival of the big tiger (which sadly looks a little too CG-ish to seem genuinely threatening) is crotch-kicked by D'Leh's utterance of the laugh out loud line "do not eat me when I set you free" when he rescues the beast from drowning. On their journey, D'Leh and his cohorts stage a quick battle with a flock of oversized dodos, and yes, that comes across about as goofy as it sounds. Early on, however, they take part in what is probably the most thrilling moment on display, a mammoth-wrangling sequence that brings to mind the dino stampede from Peter Jackson's King Kong.
There were some large dollars spent on this. Man oh man, what a waste.
Rating for Style: C-
Rating for Substance: F
Image Transfer Review: Warner has issued 10,000 BC as a flipper, with one side containing the film in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen, the other in 1.33:1 fullframe. Using the widescreen side as my gauge, the transfer is really quite attractive, and is able to work both the gloomy as well as the bright with equal aplomb. Fleshtones look natural, and the revealing level of detail (dig the crusty eye of that mammoth!) is impressive. No measurable artifacting or compression issues are evident.
Very, very nice.
Image Transfer Grade: A-
Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby Digital 5.1 surround mix utilizes the rear channels and sub to good effect, especially during the action/fight sequences. But that's to be expected in something like this, and the mix really comes through during the big mammoth stampede. Voice quality is clean, and such elements as Omar Sharif's narration carry a deep, full-bodied resonance. The high cheese dramatics of the overly sweeping Harald Kloser/Thomas Wander score (both vets of Emmerich's The Day After Tomorrow) sound properly loud and swirling when necessary.
A pleasantly appropriate and exciting action/adventure caliber mix. French and Spanish 5.1 dubs are also included.
Audio Transfer Grade: A-
Disc ExtrasStatic menu with music
Scene Access with 26 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
0 Other Trailer(s) featuring The Dark Knight, Lego - Batman: The Videogame, Batman: Gotham Knight, Gametap.com, Primeval
10 Deleted Scenes
1 Alternate Endings
Extras Review: The best part of the extras is the inclusion of The Dark Knight trailer, though the thrill is tempered a bit as it is presented in nonanamorphic widescreen. And it's downhill from there.
An Alternate Ending (03m:06s) benefits from the appearance of narrator Omar Sharif, who is saddled with some of the corniest dialogue I've ever heard, and who delivers it with eye-popping overdramatics. Pair this with unfinished visual effects for the big money shot, and the impact is lessened to almost nothing. A block of ten deleted scenes (10m:38s) with more unfinished effects made me glad for only one thing—that the final version ended up ten minutes shorter.
The disc is a flipper (widescreen on one side, fullframe the other), and is cut into 26 chapters, with optional subs in English, French, or Spanish.
Extras Grade: D-
Final CommentsA sweeping disappointment from the get go, and that is an opinion that comes from a guy who truly loves big, dumb popcorn escapism movies. I not too proud to admit I have enjoyed Emmerich films in the past, and that I was actually looking forward to this one. The only things I know for sure are that the towering mammoths are cool and Camilla Belle is one prehistoric babe, yet she can only walk in the well-proportioned shadow of the legendary Raquel Welch's tattered animal skin bikini from One Million Years B.C.
Nice audio/video transfers, but that really is of little consolation. Absolutely laughably rotten (save for a handful of action moments), and for the money spent, easily one of the year's worst.
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