A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this special effects-heavy action-adventure features lots of violent scenes that pit prehistoric tribesmen against large fierce animals and each other (sometimes in massive armies). Action scenes include hunts, chases, and fights; weapons include mallets, spears, nets, and huge knives (sometimes used to bloody effect). Several key characters are killed. There's also some minor cleavage and some questionable stereotyping.
What's the story?
10,000 B.C. begins amid the Yagahl tribe, with narrator Omar Sharif detailing the requisite legend (concerning a "child with blue eyes") and rough terrain. When a father leaves the tribe, his young son is taunted as the "son of a coward." The boy, D'Leh (who grows up to be played by Steven Strait), takes solace from his mentor, Tic'Tic (Cliff Curtis), who trains him to hunt giant mammoths and encourages him to keep faith in himself. A band of ferocious warlords arrives on horseback, kidnapping the blue-eyed Evolet (Camilla Belle), object of D'Leh's affection. He leads a small group across snowy mountains, jungles, and a gigantic desert until they find the villains driving slaves to build pyramids in worship of a man they call "God" (Tim Barlow). D'Leh has to muster his courage and lead a huge army -- his own few followers plus legions of desert dwellers -- in order to defeat the warlords and free the slaves.
Is it any good?
With its average plot, nondescript heroes, and stereotypical villains, this is a movie between a rock and a hard place. Indebted to director Roland Emmerich's own Stargate (1994), it offers little in the way of new ideas. While it's tedious enough that D'Leh is The One fated to free his people, he also turns out to be the savior for a large number of others. The other tribes are especially impressed that, fulfilling a longtime prophesy, D'Leh is "The one who speaks to the spear-tooth." (Yes, he literally speaks to an unconvincingly digitized saber-toothed tiger.)
Magical connection with felines notwithstanding, it's disconcerting that when light-skinned, movie-star handsome D'Leh arrives at the sandy site of his "destiny," he's surrounded by dark-skinned warriors who've apparently been waiting to be led to freedom and glory. Surely it's only coincidence that the sign of D'Leh's achievement is a White Spear. As if to emphasize this old-fashioned race dynamic, the villains -- especially the man who lusts after Evolet and his testy sidekick -- have large noses, dark skin, and terrible attitudes. That they must suffer mightily at the hands of the hero is no surprise; at least they don't have to witness the movie's utterly preposterous ending.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can discuss the film's accuracy. How much do we know about prehistoric life? How do you think the filmmakers decided on their version of the past? What parts do you think were sensationalized or fictionalized for impact? How could you find out more about the facts about this time in history if you wanted to? Families can also discuss whether they think the film plays on racial stereotypes. What parts of the movie might back up that theory? Does the movie rely on any other clichés? If so, what?
- In theaters: March 6, 2008
- On DVD or streaming: June 23, 2008
- Cast: Camilla Belle, Cliff Curtis, Omar Sharif
- Director: Roland Emmerich
- Studio: Warner Bros.
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Wild Animals
- Run time: 109 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: sequences of intense action and violence.
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