It would be flattering a movie like 10,000 B.C. to suggest it has anything in common with Mel Gibson's Apocalypto, but, well, it does. Both movies concern men from primitive hunter-gatherer tribes who are captured and enslaved by warriors from an oppressive urban society, and both movies feature ominous prophecies and key sequences set at pyramid-like temples. But where Apocalypto is deeply informed by its director's obsessions with the nature of religion, family, masculinity, violence, and so on, 10,000 B.C. feels like a lame, generic pastiche of ancient heroic tales.
You can get a sense of how derivative and half-baked this movie is from watching one of the early trailers, which boldly proclaimed: "Before everything we know, lies a legend never told." It certainly sounds like the sort of thing you're supposed to say in trailers for movies of this sort. But, as an online acquaintance of mine pointed out, the moment you think about that sentence, it ceases to make any sense. For one thing, how can something be a "legend" if it has "never" been told?
As with the trailer, so with the film, which piles on various elements that will look and sound familiar to anyone who has read an ancient myth, listened to an interview with the late Joseph Campbell, or watched a Ray Harryhausen film. The problem is not that the film has prophecies, or heroic journeys, or people and animals staring meaningfully into each other's eyes, or clairvoyant mystics who can see what's going on from hundreds of miles away. The problem is that these and other elements are cobbled together in a way that doesn't seem to follow any sort of internal logic.
And it's not just the story that is cobbled together. The world of this film is populated by cultures and ...1
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