Roland Emmerich fiddles history...
The thing about a Roland Emmerich film is you know what you’re going to get: brash, effects-laden spectacle shrouded in a haze of direlogue and greenscreen-afflicted performances. Back in November, Buzz was invited to watch 20 minutes of footage for his mythical odyssey 10,000 BC, presented in person by the Teutonic blockbuster-generator behind The DayAfter Tomorrow and Independence Day. And it looks like he’s sticking with what he knows...
The good? A mammoth stampede that sends several of the colossal beasts arse over trunk and a climactic set-piece on an oversized pyramid in which the hirsute giants (called ‘mannaks’ by the natives) are whipped up into a human-flattening frenzy. The bad? The loincloth-wearing actors look like they may fight a losing battle to keep audience faces from cracking into wide grins and there’s some decidedly dodgy sabre-toothed tiger CGI.
Essentially, 10,000 BC is Apocalypto in reverse, with warlords enslaving a tribe of peace-lovers, leading feisty lead D’Leh (Steven Strait) to traverse some stunning landscapes to reach a slave-driven civilisation and rescue the girl he loves before she becomes a sacrificial offering. When Mel Gibson’s film came out, the German was bricking it. “I do like Apocalypto,” Emmerich insists, “but all that I saw was jungle and some pyramids. I was hoping to see the decline of a civilisation and that story was not really told. You get that with this movie.”
Indeed, not content with prehistoric critters and grunting Neanderthals, Emmerich has upped the ante with the Lost Civilisation, which comes off as Ancient Egypt cranked up to 11. He also mashes up the human timeline to give us men riding horses a few thousand years before they did. “We’re really doing the first 5,000 years [of human history], but I couldn’t call it From 10,000 BC To 5,000 BC. 10,000 BC just has this magic about it.”
Despite comparisons to Apocalypto, Emmerich is keeping the violence in 10,000 BC light years away from Gibson’s Mayan bloodbath. “My mum was deeply upset at Universal Soldier and she was right. When there’s so much blood and violence in this world I don’t think the cinema needs it.”