Hoping to cash in on the success of last year’s “300,” director Roland Emmerich (the man behind “Independence Day” and “The Day after Tomorrow”) goes back even further in time with his latest: “10,000 B.C.”
Make no mistake - this is no Sparta.
In fact, “10,000 B.C.” isn’t much of anything, expect a major big studio misstep that makes early releases like “Meet the Spartans” and “Fool’s Gold” look like Oscar contenders.
“B.C.” tells the story of D’Leh (Steven Strait), a young mammoth hunter who has been ostracized by his tribe after his father leaves the village. D’Leh gets the opportunity to make amends when the tribe is attacked by warlords and some of the community is abducted, including D’Leh’s longtime love Evolet (Camilla Belle).
D’Leh and some of the remaining warriors set out on a quest to save the captured villagers.
If you think this sounds dopey, you’re absolutely right.
The screenplay written by Emmerich and Harald Kloser is nothing more than a standard boy meets girl, boy loses girl, and boy becomes a man to save the girl, with the Geico cavemen thrown in.
The film also is rather lazy about its dialogue, opting for most of the film to be in English (call me crazy, but I’m not sure if that was the language of the day) - with the exception of the bad guys, who are subtitled for dramatic effect.
The cast features largely unknowns, who have to recite the silly dialogue.
Strait is OK all things considered, but Belle is rather bland, except for her looks. I will give her credit, though - after a terrible performance in “When a Stranger Calls,” Belle may have found a role suitable to her cardboard-like personality.
The cast is all pawns for the real reason behind “10,000 B.C.,” and that is the special effects - which prove to not be so special after all, especially when compared to recent films like “300” or “Apocalypto.”
Of course, those are only a few films that “10,000 B.C.” suffers in comparison to - even the dreadful Ringo Starr film from 1981 “Caveman” is better. Despite a huge opening weekend, I foresee this blunder following along the lines as the Starr film, quickly being disposed to its appropriate spot in the 3 a.m. cable movie rotation.
DVD dandy of the week
This week’s pick is “No Country for Old Men” (A) the well-deserved winner of Best Picture at the recent Academy Awards.
With films like “Fargo,” “O Brother Where Art Thou?” and “Barton Fink,” writers, directors and brothers Joel and Ethan Coen have already built quite a resum/, but they may have found the perfect career exclamation point with this high-tension crime drama that features a quality cast and some gorgeous cinematography.
Adapted from a novel by Cormac McCarthy, “Old Men” centers around a Texas hunter named Llewelyn Moss, who stumbles upon some dead bodies, a stash of heroin and more than $2 million in cash near the Rio Grande.
When Llewelyn decides to take the money, it sets off a series of events that puts the hunter, his family and friends in serious jeopardy - with a ruthless bounty hunter (Javier Bardem, in a role that earned him the Best Supporting Actor award) determined to retrieve the cash.
Josh Brolin had a 2007 to remember with strong work in a quartet of films. He proves to be more than capable of holding his own in a cast that features some magnificent work.
Tommy Lee Jones, as an aging sheriff who is the emotional core of “No Country,” gives his best performance in years, while Kelly Macdonald has a star-making turn as Llewelyn’s wife.
Woody Harrelson also has a few effective moments as a rival bounty hunter.
But it is Bardem who makes “No Country” tick. With very little dialogue, Bardem is an imposing, evil presence who makes every scene he is in a white-knuckle moment. (A scene involving an unsuspecting grocery store owner who finds himself backed into a corner where a coin flip will literally determine if Bardem’s character will kill him is one of the best scenes of the year).
There are some people who might be frustrated by the film’s final act. I’ll admit it’s not an easy ending, but it is challenging and upon reflection, I’ve grown to appreciate it.
“No Country for Old Men” is rated R for strong graphic violence and some language and is now available on DVD.
— Between criss-crossing the Southeast covering Lady Topper basketball and watching bad movies, just so he can tell you exactly how bad they are, Micheal Compton can be reached by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.