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Friday, March 21, 2008

Review : 10,000 BC

10,000 BC (action)
Cast: Steven Strait, Camilla Belle
Direction: Roland Emmerich

PRE-HISTORY pre-supposes loads and loads of super special effects and high octane action with quixotic characters that are bullish, bearish, bindaas folks who have more to distinguish them from their modern cousins than their animal skin underwear. Does Roland Emmerich's blast from the past pass this litmus test and give you the mandatory masala? Only partially.

You have the regular loin-cloth hero battling the woolly mammoths, the gigantic sabre-tooth tigers and sky-high grizzlies; and you have the humans feasting on mammoth steaks, like quintessential cannibals. You also have wispy witches and shamans and gibberish-speaking rival tribes raising their ugly spears in naked conflict. And you have the conflict: a simple tribe of mammoth hunters being raided by evil intruders who ride four-legged demons (read horses) and take away their women and children, including the blue-eyed talisman of luck (Camilla Belle) who must be saved if civilisation has to progress. And the only guy who can save her is her boyfriend D'Leh (Steven Strait), even though it means walking up to the end of the world and battling a fearful entity, venerated as the Almighty.

Ironically, the story is more exciting to read than to see, for although the canvas is large, the thrills are not larger-than-life. And D'Leh's transition to heroism has nothing wild and pre-historic about it. Even the recreation of the evil empire, where the venal Almighty runs riot over his battery of human slaves, evokes a sense of deja vu. As for Omar Sharif's narration, it's too low key to build up the drama. What remains is the nostalgic flavour of those good old period epics that the Hollywood factory once excelled in. Recreate the nostalgia and capture a fragment of pre-history.

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