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.