Renzo’s Rant: 10,000 B.S.
I've decided to mark the end of my year-plus hiatus with a review of an outstanding movie. If you're back with me and reading this, I can only hope you didn't think I'd been working on some huge, super-awesome project like the long-awaited Invigilator Flash video or perhaps a conclusion to Video Game: The Movie. Nope, I've just been squandering my year long vacation by writing amusing madlibs on restaurant children's menus and watching the DVD box set of Mamma's Family (what can I say, I can't get enough of my Vicki Lawrence). But while I've been loafing around and wasting time, Hollywood has been busy cranking out the hits. Daddy Day Camp, The Hotty & The Notty, Step Up 2 The Streets...there are so many amazing movies that have come out in the last year, and without the help of my glowing online reviews, they all suffered a completely undeserved and agonizing death at the box office. Well, I wasn't about to let that happen again.
Roland Emmerich, the German Godwin alert #1 writer and/or director of hits such as Stargate, Independence Day and The Day After Tomorrow, has long been known as a maker of films that are down-to-earth, plausible, and most of all, accurate. That's why I was so pleased when I came into work on Tuesday and learned that I was to be given the honour of building his latest oeuvre, 10,000 B.C.. As some of you may recall, I spend my life making movies and then watching those movies, and sometimes writing about the aforementioned movies. So for every cinematic masterpiece like Alvin & The Chipmunks or Veggie Tales: The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything that comes along, I have to sit through a dreadful slew of celluloid abortions like There Will Be Blood or No Country For Old Men (Spoiler Alert! The Spanish guy is actually using a double-sided coin! What kind of twist ending is that?). Thankfully, 10,000 was even more wonderful than my lofty hopes had led me to believe it would be.
The film tells the harrowing and heart-breaking story of D'leh, a mastodon hunter who overcomes the hardship of being named after an indicted and disgraced politician to become a hero after he kills a wooly mammoth single-handedly with a single flimsy wooden spear. Seeing this happen is akin to watching a rhino have its jugular ripped out with a toothpick, and the fact that D'leh manages to do it more or less by accident makes him seem all the cooler. Oh, did I mention that the mammoth impales itself by foolishly diving right on top of the spear, like some deranged and hairy Japanese samurai performing seppuku? Regardless of the animal's stupidity, D'Leh is lauded by his tribe, and presented with a ceremonial white spear Godwin alert #2, passed down through the generations to brave and worthy hunters. In fact, D'Leh's own father was a previous owner, before he left the tribe under mysterious circumstances when his son was still a child.
But our hero has a shameful secret: he was actually a big pussy and was trying to run away from the mammoth, except his hand was caught in the net it was dragging. His father's old friend Tic'Tic was a witness and like some coked-up Jiminy Cricket, needles D'Leh's conscience until he convinces him to return the spear. However, he is a bit less willing to return the other prize he received: mating rights with the only blue-eyed woman in the tribe Godwin alert #3. Before he is forced to make that difficult decision, though, a marauding group of slaver dealers invades the tribe and drags away most of the people, including his bride-to-be. Determined to rescue her and her recessive genes, D'Leh sets off with Tic'Tic and a couple of other guys on history's first recorded rescue mission behind enemy lines.
Now, I'll be the first to admit that I'm no expert when it comes to geography. But I did go to school to study history, and would consider myself a buff of paleohistory and earth sciences. This is why I was so shocked when I discovered that Pangaea, the supercontinent that existed before our current land masses broke and drifted apart, lasted much longer than we've been led to believe. Rather than separating at a microscopic rate from 250 to 60 million years ago, it was still around 12,000 years ago. At least, I can only assume this to be the case, because D'Leh and his buddies leave their frigid, icy, freezing home on the Siberian steps at around noon and by three in the afternoon have arrived in the rainforest jungle of the Amazon (I think it was actually supposed to be southeast Asia, but this way is funnier). You can literally look in the background and see the straight line where the snow ends and the steamy jungle begins. I know that we were still just coming out of an ice age and all, but I had no idea the temperature lines were so finely drawn.
hile in the rainforest, D'Leh and his team catch up with the kidnappers, who evidently squandered their five minute head start. But while he's in the middle of rescuing his girlfriend, everyone is attacked by a flock of killer chocobos. That's right, the cute oversized chickens that everyone rides in Final Fantasy games have been around for a long time, but they haven't always been so friendly. These primeval chocobos have a burning hunger for something other than gyshal greens - human flesh! When the dust settles, several of the bad guys are dead but two of D'Leh's pals have joined the girl in being captured, and D'Leh and Tic'Tic are alone in the deserts of Northern Africa. I guess when they were being chased by the chocobos they just kept running and didn't stop until they'd crossed half the globe.
Unfortunately, it wasn't a clean getaway. Tic'Tic has been injured and D'Leh sets off to find some food while he recuperates. However, his pic-a-nic basket swiping abilities seem to be a bit lower than the average bear, as he promptly finds himself caught in a pitfall trap with an irate saber tooth tiger. His conscience gets the better of him and he frees the smilodon, which repays him by only briefly considering eating him. He then escapes and reunites with Tic'Tic, who has made a miraculous complete recovery, and they continue on their quest.
Soon, our heroes meet up with an African tribe that doesn't speak modern English. Before a misunderstanding can erupt, the tiger appears and seems to recognise D'Leh. This is fortunate, because the tribe believes that a stranger who is recognised by tigers is destined to help them rescue their kidnapped friends and family. There's also a guy who learned English from D'Leh's father (Remember him? Left for undisclosed reasons years earlier?), so we're spared the gruelling agony of having to read those confusing subtitles. Within fifteen minutes, a group from every tribe in the entire world has appeared, and everyone teams up to go rescue their respective friends.
Hey, remember those ancient Egyptians? Remember how they started consolidating their empire around 3,000 B.C.? And spent the next five hundred years figuring out how to build pyramids, culminating with the Great Pyramid of Khufu around 2,500 B.C.? Amateurs. Our race of kidnappers - who, it is revealed, are ruled by a group of pasty white, blue-eyed men Godwin alert #4 - have managed to build a pyramid at least as big as Khufu's (if not bigger) 7,500 years before those Luddite Egyptians. It is being built by human slaves and domesticated mastodons, and the capstone at the top seems to be about 40,000 pounds of solid gold. Forget Atlantis, this is what I call a lost civilization.
It seems to take D'Leh and his army longer to get to the pyramid city than it did to globe-trot across planet in the first half of the movie, but I guess that's because he has hundreds of followers slowing him down now. When they do arrive, he slips into the slave labour camp and goes undercover. Here, he lets all of the slaves in on his big master plan: they're going to scare a single mammoth, and see where things go from there. The slaves are understandably swayed by this airtight scheme and get ready to pull it off the next day.
Just like Jeff Goldbloom's brilliant idea to use his Apple Powerbook to upload a human computer virus into the aliens' mothership, D'Leh's plan goes off without a hitch. Oh, except Tic'Tic and one of the other guys that came with him get killed. And a bunch of the guys in his army get killed. And his girlfriend gets killed. So other than those glaring hitches, his plan to rescue his girlfriend works perfectly. Oh, wait. Whoops.
But wait, there's more! Some creepy old woman from his tribe way back in Siberia suddenly dies at the same time as his girlfriend, and magically brings her back to life in the process. Remember, this was 12,000 years ago before magic had gone extinct. Now there's nothing to do but say goodbye to all his friends and receive a bag of seeds that includes domesticated corn, the South American crop that didn't evolve from a wheat into its current form or leave the Americas until 11,000 years later.
Now that I've told you basically the entire movie, what are you waiting for? Go see it in person! And for those of you counting Godwin alerts, we've tallied the following:
* White spear
* Blue-eyed woman
* White, blue-eyed men
Yup, that's a full-blown Godwin, alright.