DVD Review HTF DVD REVIEW: 10,000 BC

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Ken_McAlinden, Jun 20, 2008.

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  1. Ken_McAlinden

    Ken_McAlinden Producer
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    10,000 BC

    Directed By: Roland Emmerich

    Starring: Steven Strait, Camilla Belle, Cliff Curtis, Joel Virgel, Ben Bodra, Mo Zainel, Nathaniel Baring, Mona Hammond

    Studio: Warner Brothers

    Year: 2008

    Rated: PG-13

    Film Length: 109 minutes

    Aspect Ratio: 2.4:1

    Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish

    Release Date: June 24, 2008

    The Film

    10,000 BC tells the story of D'Leh (Strait), a member of the Yagahl, a tribe of peaceful hunters who's world is turned upside down when they are attacked by a fierce warlord (Badra) and his clan of mounted warriors. The mounted warriors kill many of the Yagahl, and kidnap several of them to be sold into slavery. Among the kidnapped is Evolet (Belle), the unusually blue-eyed girl who D'Leh has loved since they were children when she was brought into the Yagahl as an orphaned foundling by their spiritual leader, Old Mother (Hammond). D'Leh sets out with skilled hunter Tic'Tic (Curtis), fellow tribesman Ka'Ren (Zainal), and tagalong young boy Baku (Baring) on an epic journey fraught with peril to rescue his people and recover his love.

    Given his track record, it will come as no surprise that Roland Emmerich has delivered yet another cinematic slice of big dumb spectacle. A debate on the scientific accuracy of how humanity circa 10,000 BC is portrayed is not even worth starting. The filmmakers clearly did not care and believed that the audience should not either. Viewers are best off ignoring the film's title and looking at it as a story of primitive cultures from some kind of alternate universe.

    Plot-wise, the film borrows heavily from literary and cinematic epics of the past and at times seems like it was developed by going straight from a Joseph Campbell comparative mythology checklist into a final screenplay. It really throws in everything but the kitchen sink in terms of putting the hero through an epic quest, escalatingly difficult physical and mental tests, parental issues, and what have you. These elements are not necessarily rendered artfully, elegantly, or even sensibly at times, but the film tries to smooth all of that over by maintaining a breakneck pace and emphasizing spectacle, frequently of the computer generated variety. To its credit, it succeeds fitfully if one can manage to keep one's brain in park (or at least a very low gear) for the film's duration.

    The film has some truly impressive special effects, but suffers in much the way many of the Harry Potter films do by employing different effects houses with different styles and abilities. As a result, the CGI mammoth's actually look quite impressive, the giant predatory birds, done with a combination of practical and digital effects, are similarly well rendered, but the saber tooth tiger looks like it does not belong in the same frame with everything else around it. For the action set-pieces at the film's end, the digital extras and set extensions are very well integrated into the live action photography.

    The producers were probably hoping to achieve 300-like success (or at least avoid taking a Troy-like financial bath) by not shelling out big salaries for top dollar actors in their action spectacle. The relatively unknown cast (short of off-screen narrator Omar Sharif) occasionally loses their characters under layers of make-up and unusual accents, but their job is mostly to look good in quasi-primitive clothing and keep the plot rolling, which they do in a journeyman-like fashion. While there are no breakout star-making performances along the lines of Gerard Butler in 300, nobody particularly embarrasses themself either, with the possible exception of Ben Badra near the end. I had the distinct impression that he was being coached by the director to ham it up at that point, so I will give him a pass.

    The Video

    The 16:9 enhanced 2.4:1 widescreen transfer appears on the double layered side of this double sided DVD-14 disc. The flip side of the disc includes the 4:3 full frame transfer encoded on a single layer. For the purpose of this review, I did not watch the 4:3 reformatted version. The widescreen presentation is somewhat schizophrenic in that it starts out with some annoying digital video artifacts, most noticeably a noisy type of ringing around high contrast edges. Somewhere around the second reel of the film, though, this artifact goes away and the presentation becomes quite good, with excellent color, contrast and sharpness, even through a number of highly manipulated day for night sequences.

    The Audio

    The English Dolby Digital 5.1 track encoded at 384 kbps gives an impressive workout to all 5.1 channels, particularly during the films frequent action set-pieces. The impressively dimensional and dynamic mix is rendered with very good fidelity, although it suffers a bit from the low bitrate at times (maybe I have been spoiled by all of the uncompressed tracks I have been hearing on blu-ray discs lately). Alternate language Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks are available in French and Spanish.

    The Extras

    The extras are presented only on the dual-layered side of the disc that also holds the widescreen presentation of the film. They consist entirely of deleted and alternate sequences from the film. They are presented in 16:9 enhanced video with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio. Scenes with digital effects are incompletely rendered.

    First up is an Alternate Ending which runs three minutes and six seconds. In this version, the narrator's identity is revealed, and Omar Sharif makes an on-screen appearance.

    Next up is a collection of ten brief Additional Scenes. They are presented with individual chapter stops, but are not each directly selectable from the disc's menu. Descriptions and running times are as follows:
    1. Baku tells Tic'Tic that the "Mammouks" (i.e. Mammoths) have arrived in the valley.(:48)
    2. Old Mother tends to a dying man, reacts severely when a mountain goat is killed, and talks to Tic'Tic about D'Leh. (1:55)
    3. After the hunt, Yagahl tribesmen gossip both negatively and positively about D'Leh. (:55)
    4. Baku unsuccessfully tries to impress Tic'Tic by helping him up a slope (:31)
    5. In the warlord's camp, Evelet flashes back to childhood memories of the slaughter of her people.(:47)
    6. An extensive alternate tiger-pit sequence (2:48)
    7. D'Leh and Tic'Tic arrive at the fortress of Nakudu's tribe. (:51)
    8. An ailing Old Mother asks to be taken to a place where she can see the mountains (:39)
    9. D'Leh and Tic'Tic contend with a sand storm. (:35)
    10. "One Eye" is shown ratting out the head warlord.(:44)

    When the disc is first spun up, the viewer is greeted with the following skippable promotional spots, all of which are in 4:3 video letterboxed when appropriate with Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo sound:
    • Anti-Piracy PSA with scenes from Casablanca (1:00)
    • The Dark Knight Theatrical Trailer (2:08)
    • Lego Batman video game trailer (1:15)
    • Batman: Gotham Knight DTV Trailer(1:35)
    • Gametap online video game service promo (:39)
    • Primeval TV series DVD Trailer (1:18)

    Packaging

    The double sided single/double layered DVD-14 disc is packaged in a standard Amaray-style case with no inserts. Extras appear only on the side of the disc with the widescreen film presentation, but the promos are included on both sides.

    Summary

    Roland Emmerich's 10,000 BC delivers the expected big dumb spectacle which will entertain you proportionately to how effective you are at turning the critical thinking portion of your brain off while watching it. It is presented on disc with a generally quite good 16:9 enhanced widescreen video transfer that has what looks like compression issues during the first reel of the film that go away as the film progresses. A reformatted 4:3 presentation appears on the flip side of the disc which was not watched for the purpose of this review. Audio quality is outstanding with the impressively dynamic and dimensional mix rendered with good fidelity. Extras consist of an alternate ending and ten additional scenes.

    Regards,
     
  2. Chad E

    Chad E Stunt Coordinator

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    FYI for Canadian readers...

    Canada also has a two-disc set available. The second disc contains National Geographic's Prehistoric Predators: Sabretooth. Run time is listed as 55 minutes. The set comes in a steelbook case. Artwork can be seen here.

    Best Buy Canada also has an exclusive 3-disc version. The third disc contains the HBO Special The Making Of An Epic World, and the A Wild and Wooly Ride - Reconstructing the Period of 10,000 BC featurette. Cover artwork is the same as the 2-disc set, but is identified by a sticker on the front of the case.
     
  3. Ira Siegel

    Ira Siegel Stunt Coordinator

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    I saw the movie in a theater. Ken, your review of the film is way too kind.
     
  4. Brett_M

    Brett_M Screenwriter

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    Agreed. This movie sucks eggs, even considering Emmerich's previous hit or miss efforts. It's not even worth a rental. So many missed opportunities.
     

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