Saturday, March 08, 2008

Stevereads Goes to the Movies!


We here at Stevereads have just returned from the Grand Odeon Movie Palace, where we treated some wretched interns to a picture show (unbeknownst to them, they're all being sacked on Monday, so we figured it was the least we could do), and we have a declaration to help the rest of you clarify your lives:

"10,000 b.c." may very well be the greatest movie ever made.

Some of you will no doubt already have seen this film's trailers, showing snarling sabertooths and herds of mammoths, and you may be thinking it's not the thing for you. But we're here to assure you: this movie is even better than its trailers!

It's directed by Roland Emmerich (he also "co-wrote" it with Harald Koser), the sooper-genius who brought us all "Independence Day," the nearest thing we here at Stevereads have ever had to a religious experience (topping even our brief marriage to Ethel Merman), and this is evident right from the start - the audience knows they're in the hands of a master showman, and really, what more can an audience want than that?

The movie (narrated by Omar Sharif, who's got to be 200 years old - we'll have an intern check, might as well get some use out of the little twerps before Monday, right?) revolves around brooding young mammoth hunter D'Leh (played by toxic tobacco addict Steven Strait), whose childhood sweetheart Evolet (extremely accomplished young veteran Camilla Belle) has been abducted by evil warlord Affif Ben Badra (that's the actor's name, incredibly enough, not the character's ... we just liked the sound of it: my girlfriend's been kidnapped by Ben Badra!). D'Leh assembles a band of heroes, including Cliff Curtis as somebody called Tic Tic (a dippy name, yes, but he's the best thing in the movie) and toxic tobacco addict cutie-patootie Reece Ritchie as Moha (also a dippy name, but Ritchie's the real thing, as Peter Jackson saw and as all the world will see when "Lovely Bones" comes out), and the bunch of them set out to save the girl. Nonstop adventure ensues!

This movie's nay-sayers (there are bound to be a few) will inevitably carp about the heavy use of CGI to bring all the prehistoric beasties to life (the carnivorous ostriches alone are enough to make you swear off poultry); they'll no doubt say this CGI stinks, that it doesn't look believable, etc. To which we have two responses: A) how would they know, never having laid eyes on a mammoth? and B) they're just plain wrong. The special effects in this movie are wonderful - an eye-popping evocation of a world so strange you have to remind yourself periodically that it's Earth.

Which isn't to say "10,000 b.c." could do double-duty as a documentary, far from it: virtually every detail that's scientifically knowable is done wrong in the movie. Species that never overlapped are shown cheek by jowl, and anachronistic technology abounds. Probably there are wretched little smeagols blogging about such discrepancies even as we speak. And their efforts entirely miss the point.


The point is, this is a fun movie. It's got fast-paced directing, great special effects, some attempts at character backstory, two slightly-unpredictable character epiphanies, and a rousing climax. It isn't Bergman, and it isn't trying to be.

That having been said, there is some good acting in the film (good as the material allows, anyway). Belle has excellent timing and a fresh vivacity about her, and Strait (who although fairly one-dimensional in "The Covenant," managed to steal a scene or two in "Sky High") is very effective as a young man racing to put his life back together.

And all those mammoths! They are as clearly the stars of this show as the gigantic alien spaceships were of "Independence Day," and they represent a huge (no pun intended) step forward from the days when directors needing mammoths had to drape shag rugs over long-suffering Indian elephants and hope for the best. The CGI prehistoric creatures sell the movie - even if nothing else in it were done well, "10,000 b.c." would still be worth seeing just for its megafauna.

But lots of other stuff is done well - our interns left the theater happily chattering about how much they enjoyed the movie - how much more they enjoyed it than they expected they would. We predict that come Monday it'll be crowned the #1 movie in the country, and we urge you all to make time this weekend to take it in. We're confident you'll enjoy yourselves.

25 comments:

Beepy said...

Steve, you never fail to disappoint me. I just don't know where to go with this so I'll leave it to Locke to rip you to shreds.

Locke?

JEaton said...

"Toxic tobacco addicts." YES!!

steve said...

Neither one of you can rip me to shreds until you've SEEN the masterpiece in question, which neither one of you will ever do! It's 'High School Musical' all over again!

steve said...

Oh, and Jeff? just because I settled on 'toxic' doesn't mean I LIKE you or anything! Why, you MOVED TO WASHINGTON without even giving me shot at the cheap sentimentality of leaving-town sex! What kind of friend does THAT?

Kevin Caron said...

Whoa.

Now I'm not feeling so bad that he didn't go with my 'reeking tobacco addict".

JEaton said...

Hrmph. This, after all those times I invited you to New York to "shop for books."

Imani said...

It's 'High School Musical' all over again!

Well, that's enough to keep me firmly away from the cinema doors.

Beepy said...

You tell him, Imani!

By the way, I haven't seen this movie but I did see "Beowulf" and I remember Steve raving about that. The logic is faulty, I know, but:

A. Steve raved about "Beowulf"
B. Steve raved about "Whatever BC"
C. "Beowulf" was crap.
D. Therefore...

or:

A. Steve loves crap movies.
B. Steve loves "Whatever BC"
C. "Whatever BC" is crap.

Take your pick.

As for "High School Musical", who says that I haven't seen it? Perhaps I'm just being kind by pretending not to have.

Beepy said...

Jeff moved to Washington? Why wasn't I informed? Here I've been picturing him all hip and cool in some New York/Sex in the City type setting and he's been in Washington all along. Washington State or D.C.? Should I picture him in logging gear or nothing but a tie and garters holding up his socks? (Either way is win-win.)

brian said...

I was going to review this. I just got back from seeing it. Um, Steve...it was awful (and I don't mean that in a good way). The CGI IS terrible (blurry for the mammoths & cartoony for the Sabre tooth). The sense of location is ridiculous. One minute, these guys are in an arctic mountainous region. Suddenly, they're in a jungle being hunted by killer ostriches and, before we can say "piss break", they're in Egypt helping the wooly mammoths build the pyramids. I'm so tempted to spoil the laughably bad ending. Ok, a central character dies with an arrow to the spine. From thousands of miles away an old Shaman give them their life back by exchanging breaths or something. Suddenly, the severed spinal cord isn't so severed? As this happens, an other main character exchanges longing looks with a Wooly.

Steve's right about one thing. Cliff Curtis is the best thing in this film. Unfortunately, the writers screwed him over in the end. They turn him into a fucking idiot. Um, what else? All the other actors suck and D'leh and the rest of his tribe look like Drexel from 'True Romance'. His woman was pretty hot though.

Oh yeah, it was also boring for the middle 40-45 minutes. I fell asleep briefly and had to hit the concessions for a $5 coke to wake me up.

Also, I'm pissed that I paid $10.50!

JEaton said...

Now I will hijack Steve's blog to clear up misconceptions about me to Beepy. Ahem.

Just moved from NYC in the first week of Feb. Lived in NYC for the past 6 years working for nonprofits, except for one year when I was an EMT. Now I'm a grant writer for the DC chapter of Planned Parenthood and living with my girlfriend who is an international trade/customs lawyer. Now, back to your regularly scheduled polemics and encomiums from our host.

PS: Hey Steve, have you ever lived in our fair (evil) capital city?

brian said...

Also, I kept waiting for Russell and Spader to show up at the end and for the faceless "egyption" leader to be revealed as none other than Ra! If that had happened, my opinion would have pulled a complete 180.

brian said...

One more thing Steve. Do child labor laws apply to "interns"? Clearly yours haven't even approached puberty yet.

brian said...

Beepy. Your logic is faulty because Beowulf was most certainly not crap.

steve said...

Brian FELL ASLEEP during the movie, and yet his judgements are held more reliable than my own??? How ANYBODY could fall asleep during this movie is beyond me!

steve said...

Oh, and Jeff? I have indeed lived in Washington - my Washington interlude, I call it. Wonderful friends, wonderful job, wonderful eating and drinking ... but oh, the humidity. I thought I'd grow accustomed to it, but how can ANYBODY? It's like frickin VENUS. Beepy would simply die if she had to spend even a day there. I still can't believe I stayed as long as I did.

brian said...

To be honest, I only nodded off for about 30 seconds. Perhaps it had something to do with walking into the theatre immediately following a 5 hour bus ride. Still, the coke woke me up and I stand by everything else I said.

brian said...

Steve, this friday brings us a potential masterpiece from 'Dog Soldiers' director Neil Marshall called 'Doomsday'. I, for one, couldn't be more excited.

Beepy said...

It was the WOOLY MAMMOTHS who built the pyramids! Good to know. I'd always wondered about that.

Beepy said...

Oooh, now I'm picturing Jeff saving people with the kiss of life and all. It just keeps getting better and better. Now if only he were a pirate...

steve said...

manatees and their thing for pirates ... geez ...

Imani said...

Saved by spiritual french kiss? Wtf...?

It sounds like a good after-the-bar rental.

steve said...

you'll all have noticed by now that my prediction that '10,000 b.c.' would be the #1 movie in the country come Monday was ENTIRELY RIGHT, as are ALL my predictions!

brian said...

Congrats on the victory over 'College Road Trip'.

brian said...

Seriously, 39 million isn't a bad showing (although, it's not spectacular for a special effects extravaganza). The real test is to see if it can maintain it for more than one week. We'll see.