Category Archives: 2000s

Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (2001)

*. Talk about a mouthful of a title. It’s often abbreviated as GMK, which I think I’ll go with.
*. The Godzilla movies of the Millennium series only accept the original Gojira as pre-existing (though there is a funny dig at Hollywood’s 1998 Godzilla in the opening scene here). Indeed, we’re told that Godzilla’s last rampage was so long ago that even people who were there at the time are apparently having doubts as to whether it actually happened.
*. Given such a blank slate, in this movie Godzilla can be a bad guy, as he was in 1954, while King Ghidorah makes his only appearance in the franchise as a heroic monster. The title promises a line-up of famous names, but it’s only the names that have stayed the same.
*. In addition to being one of Japan’s Guardian Monsters, Ghidorah is also smaller than Godzilla now. But then, everything looks smaller next to what has to be the fattest Godzilla ever. Apparently the intention was to have him move in a more bent-forward position but this was too difficult to achieve. Instead he should have just tried tucking himself into a ball and rolling through Tokyo.
*. Another change in his appearance is the absence of pupils in his eyes. This has the effect of making him seem less cartoonish and more malignant, but it also made me think he might have gone blind in the ocean depths.
*. Then there’s the matter of his back story. No longer the product of atomic testing, and thus erasing even Gojira as a foundational text, we’re told now that Godzilla somehow embodies the “collective will to survive” of the souls of all those who died in the Second World War. Or at least those who died in the Pacific theatre. I wasn’t sure.
*. In his book Godzilla On My Mind William Tsutsui says that this part of the plot is “based on an interpretation of Godzilla long favored by right-wing critics in Japan,” with Godzilla representing “the unquiet souls of the soldiers and sailors who died in the Pacific during World War II, returning to Japan to wreak vengeance, to demand belated acknowledgment, and to rekindle national spirit.”
*. That’s the sense I had at first as well, but then the strange holy man who is explaining this stuff seems to suggest that what Godzilla really represents is not the Japanese war dead but the souls of the victims of Japanese aggression. At least that’s the way I understood it from the subtitles.
*. In any event, what you’ll gather from this is that GMK is a movie with a pronounced supernatural flavour. If Godzilla is some kind of otherworldly avatar of revenge his opponents are three Guardian Monsters (Baragon, reduced to a punching bag without his heat ray, Mothra, and Ghidorah) who are related to ritual statues, as well as to each other in some weird way. They can’t really die but instead they dissolve into gold dust and rise again, reconstituted Phoenix-style.
*. One unfortunate result of all of this supernaturalism is that it’s hard to feel anything much is at stake. You can’t kill these magical monsters as they’ll just keep reforming and coming back. The movie’s bizarre final shot even plays a bit like the end of some ’80s slasher flick, with Godzilla now cousin to one of the immortal killers of that era.
*. The human story has some nice comic touches playing with the reporters for BS Media (“the bargain basement of the airwaves”), but it ends on a schmaltzy note. The effects are poor. The fight scenes are reasonably well done, but uninteresting. Godzilla vs. Baragon is especially pointless. Surprisingly it is the military this time out that administers the coup de grâce, something that I don’t think I’d seen since Godzilla Raids Again. Which just underlines how odd an entry this is in the franchise. And when you go the route of being  odd you have to take the good with the bad.

Godzilla vs. Megaguirus (2000)

*. There are a pair of charming clichés that go along with the Godzilla movies. The first has to do with the authorities somehow losing Godzilla after every one of his rampages. You’d think they’d be able to track something that big, especially with all our surveillance satellites and other fancy toys, but in this movie again it becomes a plot point that has to be addressed by firing a homing device into Godzilla’s hide and sending drones after him.
*. The other cliché, which is just as much fun, has to do with the way the military duly keep driving out their tanks and rocket launchers, or scrambling jet planes and helicopters, to fire away at Godzilla despite the fact that they’ve been doing this for nearly fifty years and clearly it has no effect on him at all. When this really gets funny, however, is when a bunch of grunts left on the ground try to blast away with small-arms fire and shoulder-launched rockets before getting flattened. Keep trying, guys! One of these days you might even hurt him!
*. This is how Godzilla vs. Megaguirus (or Godzilla x Megaguirus, as the films of the Millennium phase were styled) starts out. After an introductory montage that establishes a break of continuity with any of the previous movies aside from Gojira (which, in turn, is nicely sampled), a team of about a dozen soldiers are exhorted by their leader to go into battle against Godzilla with bazookas. “Don’t forget,” he tells them, “it may be big but it’s still a lizard! Aim at its legs to bring it down!” Wow! Aim at Godzilla’s legs! Why had nobody ever thought of that before? Then imagine the team’s surprise as they fire their rockets at Godzilla’s feet and absolutely nothing happens! Consternation!
*. And these, I might add, aren’t just any soldiers. They’re members of an elite anti-Godzilla unit (or really entire government department) that has been studying how to best take down this giant bugbear for decades. And “aiming at its legs” is the best they’ve come up with!
*. The unit goes by the name of the G-Graspers. I thought something must have been lost in translation here, but it’s part of an English logo that is branded on all of their kit so somebody must have thought it sounded good. Luckily, after the failure of this rocket attack their scientists have come up with a plan to use “plasma-powered energy” (developed as an alternative energy source to keep nuclear out of Japan) to create a miniature black hole that can be fired from a cannon. Its code name is Dimension Tide. Which is at least a better name than the G-Graspers got stuck with.
*. Gozilla vs. Megaguirus isn’t rated very highly among Godzilla fans. At least I don’t see it often cracking the top-10 lists. But I like it. Despite the plot being the exact same formula as ever, at least in the “good Godzilla” movies. Japan wants to rid itself of its giant spirit lizard until something even worse comes along and they need his help; there’s a fight where Godzilla gets the crap kicked out of him, which just makes him angry, etc. I say despite this there’s something about how it plays out that I found enjoyable all the way through.
*. It’s easy enough to be critical. I don’t like the Millennium Godzilla’s appearance. He legs are so bloated they seem deformed (though he isn’t quite the tub of lard he’d turn into in the next movie) and his teeth splay weirdly out from his mouth. I’m also not a fan of Toho’s flying monsters, like Mothra, Rodan and this Megaguirus thing, which is a giant dragonfly. The flying monsters are never very convincing and Megaguirus is even worse than the others, simply hovering in the air without even flapping his wings. The fight scenes are poorly handled, with even a couple of the early Toho silly moments thrown in (like Godzilla doing a giant body splash). Throughout I thought the effects a noticeable step down from Godzilla 2000.
*. That said, I thought the human story was OK, with a couple of women who hold grudges against Godzilla leading the way. The flooding of Tokyo was neat. And the story, as I’ve said, moves along quite nicely. I didn’t care much for the ending, but at least it was quick. This isn’t the Godzilla I grew up with, but if I had I think I would have liked it just as much.

The Omen (2006)

*. Though it did decent box office, or really very good box office for its slight budget, I’d missed this version of The Omen entirely when it came out and so went into it now not expecting much of anything. I’m sure I didn’t have my hopes up, probably figuring it was going to be just another one of the dismal twenty-first century horror resets that didn’t go anywhere (see, for example, my notes on the remakes of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Friday the 13th, and Child’s Play) .
*. The first thing that struck me was David Seltzer’s name appearing in the credits for the screenplay. Seltzer had done the screenplay for The Omen (1976) and I thought it curious he would have come back to do this after not wanting to be involved in the sequel Omen II.
*. Well, actually he wasn’t involved in this at all. The screenwriter who had been working on a new script was denied a credit by the Writers Guild because it was deemed to be too close to Seltzer’s original. Which it certainly is, both for the story and much of the dialogue, which is repeated verbatim. This, in turn, leads to a number of further reflections.
*. In the first place, why bother? This is something a number of critics wondered about at the time. The review by Peter Travers in Rolling Stone may be taken as representative: “Not since Gus Van Sant inexplicably directed a shot-by-shot remake of Hitchcock’s Psycho has a thriller been copied with so little point or impact.”
*. I’m just as baffled at what the point was in sticking so closely to the original. On the DVD commentary there’s an exchange at the beginning where director John Moore is asked about the use of news footage of recent human catastrophes like floods, 9/11, and even the Challenger explosion as suggesting the coming of the Antichrist. I found his response very odd. “Oh yeah, that’s mostly the point here, is that the Beast, the Antichrist, will be a man-made entity, and that most of the ills that befall us are man made.” The “point of the remake,” he goes on to say “was to give it [these disasters] context.”,
*. So the heralds of Revelation, the opening of the seven seals, are all human in origin. Things like war and climate change. So why does the devil need Damien? And can the forces of faith fight rising sea waters? Or fix defective O-rings? If this was the “point of the remake” you can colour me confused.

*. Another point that I questioned with regard to sticking to the original script is that it was far from flawless in the first place. If you’re free to make changes, why not? Why not fix the character of Father Brennan, who can’t keep his act together for just the couple of minutes he needs to try and convince Thorn of what’s going on? He finally gets access to this powerful figure and he has to lead off with cries for him to drink the blood of his saviour and find Jesus?
*. OK, he’s a kook. One of the good guys, but still a kook. But here’s another point in Seltzer’s script that should have been reworked. It comes when Thorn has finally been convinced that Damien is a demonic force, responsible for his wife’s death (and indirectly the death of two of his unborn children). He’s just finished listening to all of Bugenhagen’s spiel (which he accepts as true), when . . . he suddenly develops scruples. Damien is just a child, Thorn can’t go through with it, and he even throws the daggers of Megiddo away. I didn’t think that made any sense in the original and it’s a problem they did nothing to fix here.
*. They also made no attempt to fix a stupid factual error in the original: a single line where Jennings says that the place name Megiddo is derived from Armageddon, when it’s the other way around. Talk about an easy fix! Did nobody care that this was wrong? Did nobody know?
*. Perhaps we’re just getting stupider. In the original when Thorn digs up the grave of Damien’s mother and finds the skeleton of a jackal he doesn’t say anything. He doesn’t have to because it was assumed the audience would have followed along. Here he has to explain what it means to Jennings, and to us. It’s no longer a safe assumption that audiences will keep up or be paying attention.
*. As a final point on the question of why they would want to keep the remake so close to the original there is the fact that all of the signature scenes from thirty years earlier are just repeated here, without finding any way to improve on them. Damien’s freakout in the car going to church is just done through rapid editing. The trip to the zoo is more a trip the mall with some apes improbably in glass cages. Except for one gorilla they don’t seem too upset. Father Brennan is speared again with a falling lightning rod, the only difference being that the rod smashes through some stained glass first.
*. Then there’s the decapitation scene, which by the time it comes was about the only thing that had me still interested. I guess it’s neatly done, in a sort of Rube Goldberg-Final Destination sort of way. But still not up to the original.
*. I wouldn’t suggest it as a general rule, but still: anytime a horror movie indulges this much thunder and lightning you start to think it’s in trouble, trying to give itself any extra support it can get.
*. A good cast. I was wondering what happened to Julia Stiles. I hadn’t seen her in anything since all the Shakespeare adaptations she’d been in a few years earlier. Liev Schreiber does his best. Mia Farrow, the devil’s mother, is back as the devil’s nanny. Ha-ha. She’s good, but I’d still give the nod to Billie Whitelaw. David Thewlis is still getting hyped on the number of the beast. I wonder if they considered having him do the same routine he did in Naked. Would that have been too obvious? Pete Postlethwaite steals every scene as Father Brennan. Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick not saying much but looking more consciously evil than Harvey Stephens (who shows up here in a cameo as a reporter).
*. I wouldn’t call this movie a disaster, though at the same time I can’t think of a single thing it does better than the original, which was, in turn, only a happy bit of a trash. Well, maybe the way Miss Baylock kills Damien’s mom in the hospital. That’s properly sickening. But as far as sequels go this was, along with most of the other horror resets coming out at the same time, stillborn. Surely there’s a message here that we may not have needed any of these franchise offspring. It did, however, make a lot of money so I suppose we haven’t seen the last of this devil yet.

Team America: World Police (2004)

*. Team America: World Police is a product of the same partnership that gave us the television series South Park: director Trey Parker and writers Parker, Matt Stone, and Pam Brady. And in both cases the comic hook is the same: cartoons or puppets doing “adult” things like swearing a lot and having sex. There’s some political satire and observational humour on American culture, but that shocking incongruity is what provides the foundation.
*. I’m not a big fan of South Park, and don’t watch it except by accident, but I have seen some funny episodes. Funnier, at least, than anything in Team America: World Police. This isn’t a bad movie — the puppetry, or Supermarionation as its known as in the business — is actually quite good and the effects are well produced and fun in their obviously fake way. I especially liked the giant black panthers. But as comedy it’s crudely written and not funny at all.
*. To begin with the shock factor I mentioned, here you’ll see puppets dropping loads of bombs and f-bombs, vomiting copiously, having their heads blown into pulpy messes, and fucking in every different kind of position (in the uncut DVD version anyway), including peeing and shitting on each other. Is any of that funny? I guess it depends on how old you are or how easily you shock. I wasn’t offended by any of it, but I wasn’t laughing.

*. Then there is the satire. This aims to be “fair and balanced” by attacking both rah-rah American patriotism (the team’s theme music is “America, fuck yeah!”) and left-wing Hollywood celebrities. But I thought all of this was overplayed. I mean, I get the jokes, but how funny are they? Look at the gung-ho Americans destroying the world in order to save it! Look at the precious actors — who are all members of the Film Actors Guild. That’s F.A.G. They even spell it out for you. Get it? Again: I’m not offended by any of this. But is it funny?
*. My sense is that sending up Hollywood might have been funny but it all seems tired now, and the puppets don’t look or sound at all like their models (not that surprising, as they’re all voiced by Parker). Without their being identified I doubt I could have recognized one of them.
*. Then there is the North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il. An obvious comic butt with his huge glasses and silly jumpsuits, he also turns his l’s into r’s in stereotypical Asian speech. I wanted to laugh at this guy. But what good lines does he have? The song where he complains about being “ronery”?
*. So I get it. I don’t think I’m missing anything here. I think it would be hard in a film this broad to miss anything. But maybe it’s just not my thing. It’s an “adult” movie in a way that has to use the quotation marks, but it’s not for grown-ups.

The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)

*. I understand the love for Wes Anderson. That such a young director could make movies so polished, assured, and informed by such a knowledge of the entire history of film is remarkable. There is nothing in The Royal Tenenbaums, or his previous film Rushmore (1998) for that matter, that feels out of place. On repeated viewings you will see more and more at work, at least in the visuals.
*. Having said all that, as quickly as possible, I’ll now say I’m not a fan. I like Anderson’s movies but I don’t love them. This is at least in part because they seem so consciously designed to be liked.

*. What do I mean? Well, by accident I was rewatching this movie the same week I watched Left Behind (the one starring Nicolas Cage). The two films have probably never been associated in anyone’s head, but I was struck by how similar they felt. What I said about Left Behind (and it’s an observation others made) is that it has not just the look but the emotional weight of a Hallmark Theater production. Turning to The Royal Tenenbaums just a couple of days later I was struck by how similar it was in this respect. It is polished, yes, but to a point where everything seems artificial, while carrying a weightless, feel-good message about family, love, and then through love finding redemption.
*. The Tenenbaums are a dysfunctional family, with a penchant (inherited from patriarch Royal) for flaming out. But there is no drama. Perhaps taking their lead from Bill Murray, by now an icon of deadpan, the cast take dryness to Murray-esque extremes. Margot (Gwyneth Paltrow) is a zombie, and apparently isn’t even on drugs. The Wilson brothers both seem lobotomized. Danny Glover, dressed up in a Kofi Annan uniform, bears a truly unfortunate resemblance to a racist lawn ornament, and has the same stiff impassivity. Etheline (Anjelica Huston) appears to be surprised by feeling. Only Royal (Gene Hackman) and Chas (Ben Stiller) show any humanity at all.

*. This is an ironic twist. We are used to family drama being dramatic. We revel in the bitchiness of family reunions, from The Lion in Winter to Ordinary People. Or we like to watch the fireworks in family comedies like Meet the Parents. But the Tenenbaum clan turns this on its head. They’re eccentrics, but they’re narcotized. There are no fireworks when they get together. They don’t seem to love or hate one another but instead only engage in half-hearted manipulative games.
*. What I thought most lacking was the pain. The Tenenbaum kids are supposed to be damaged, but they don’t feel like survivors of anything. They’re just zeroes. I found it interesting to read that both Hackman and Huston initially turned down their roles unless more material was written for them because they thought their characters lacked depth. I can only imagine how thin they were originally.
*. This thinness is what I find characterizes Anderson’s work. It’s what makes him so popular, and it’s what I don’t like. The Royal Tenenbaums is a very well made movie but it’s also a silly piece of fluff. I began by saying how, on repeated viewings, one can appreciate more and more in its visual texture, its art and design. At the same time, I find less and less actually going on.

Scarecrow Gone Wild (2004)

*. Worst. Scarecrow. Ever.
*. The “star” of the first Scarecrow movie was Tiffany Shepis, a name not many people will recognize but someone who does have a following as a scream queen in low-budget horror efforts. The star (I think I can fairly say it this time without quotation marks) of Scarecrow Slayer was Tony Todd, a name and face most horror fans will recognize from Candyman and the Final Destination movies.
*. The star, or “star,” of Scarecrow Gone Wild is “UFC Hall of Famer” Ken Shamrock. Unlike Shepis and Todd, Shamrock is not an actor. Nor, outside of fans of MMA, is he as well known. That said, he does as well in the acting department as anyone else in the cast here. This gives some idea of the trajectory the Scarecrow franchise followed, even after starting out at the bottom.
*. When I call this the worst Scarecrow ever I’m not just talking about the worst Scarecrow movie. The Scarecrow himself is the worst ever. For some reason he’s just a guy wearing an obvious scarecrow mask, of the kind that pulls down over your head, flaring out around the neck. What gives? The franchise had switched to a different production company so maybe they were trying to cut costs. I don’t know. I don’t care.
*. The gore effects are worthless. When people are disembowelled their guts just sit on top of their stomachs in a neat pile. Meanwhile, the rest of the movie consists of a lot of annoying bickering among young people (Shamrock’s part is little more than a cameo). There are some boobs on display though, and a scene where a couple of the jocks piss all over the face of a guy they buried in sand. No joke. This really happens.
*. I thought the title was kind of cute, conjuring up thoughts of the Scarecrow going crazy at Fort Lauderdale during Spring Break, but all we end up getting is a quick trip by the gang to a deserted beach for a party that the Scarecrow crashes. Ho-hum. I wonder just how low the budget was on this one. I mean, nothing here looks like it could have cost very much.
*. No more flips and tumbling rolls. And the Scarecrow doesn’t speak. But he does whistle. And he can swim. Figure that out.
*. The ending was a bit unexpected, though I wouldn’t go so far as to call it interesting. Sadly, by that time I was so bored and frankly angry with Scarecrow Gone Wild that I just wanted it to end. Not caring what the end was, so long as some end might be, to paraphrase Browning’s Child Roland.
*. Absolute garbage. Bad without coming close to being so bad it’s good. Luckily, this seemed to be it for the man of straw. At least we can hope.

Scarecrow Slayer (2003)

*. I didn’t have my hopes up. To be more precise, I was just wondering if it could possibly be any worse than Scarecrow.
*. It should have met my low expectations. The story isn’t that bad (I shudder as I write that, but keep in mind such a judgement is relative). There’s no continuity with Scarecrow but instead a vague alternative mythology is introduced which only keeps the idea of the Scarecrow being possessed of the spirit of some unlucky guy who dies at its feet. Then there’s a bunch of college jerks who play at being Marines, which is at least a bit more interesting than the usual gang of jocks. And finally we have Tony Todd in an abbreviated Ahab role. His character should be able to explain what’s going on a bit better, having written several books on the subject, but I’m not sure the screenwriters knew any more than he did.
*. All this might have been OK. Or at least, as I had hoped, no worse than the original. Unfortunately, it’s put across with total technical incompetence. This movie has some of the worst visual effects and lighting I think I’ve ever seen. Meanwhile, it doesn’t need to be said but I’ll say anyway that the acting is at the same level. I’m talking about performances that are so bad they’re immediately annoying. They don’t even have to wear on you.
*. Complete garbage, without even the blessings of a few good kills. But for all that I have trouble saying it’s any worse than Scarecrow. On the whole I’m inclined to think it moves a bit better even if it makes (a lot) less sense. It’s really hard to look at though, and the only people who will find any entertainment value in it will be dedicated craphounds.

Scarecrow (2002)

*. It’s a given that most horror franchises go downhill, and go downhill fast. You can probably count the exceptions to this rule with the fingers on one hand. But most of them do, at least, get off to a somewhat promising start. The first Friday the 13th was OK. The Children of the Corn movies were a long tail of trash, but the original wasn’t bad. The first Leprechaun wasn’t . . . terrible.
*. There have been, as of this writing, three Scarecrow movies (this one was followed quickly by Scarecrow Slayer and Scarecrow Gone Wild), qualifying it as a mini-franchise. This is the first, and it is terrible. When a franchise starts off at the level of the later Children of the Corn entries then you have to wonder why they’re even bothering.
*. The opening credits take a long time to run through, as they throw everyone’s name up there. This establishes what will be a pattern. Despite being a short film (under 90 minutes) there is a lot of filler, from musical cues to cutaways of clouds. Among the many names that get splashed on screen someone may recognize Tiffany Shepis as the last girl. She’s a bit of a scream queen in these low-budget thrillers. The only other name that stuck out, because it comes up three times (for visual effects, make-up, and second unit director), was Anthony C. Ferrante. He’s the guy behind the Sharknado franchise, which he moved on to ten years after this. That’s right, he went on to Sharknado, which was a step up.
*. The story here has a high school loser named Lester who gets killed by the redneck jerk who’s banging his trailer-trash mom. Somehow Lester’s soul transfers into a scarecrow, which then comes to life and starts killing people off in ways that are very quick and uninteresting.
*. The only thing I liked is the appearance of the Scarecrow himself. He does look good. But he has a stupid voice when he probably shouldn’t have been talking at all (he doesn’t in the next movie) and he delivers a lot of stupid lines. When he kills Lester’s mean teacher he says “How’s that for a pop quiz?” When he kills someone else with a shovel he says “Can you dig it?” I don’t think this is supposed to be clever, but rather to make us laugh at how dumb it is.
*. Another aspect of the Scarecrow I couldn’t quite figure out is his penchant for doing gymnastic leaps and somersaults every chance he gets. At one point he even does a whole tumbling roll down the street. I’m not sure why, since this doesn’t strike me as something scarecrows are known for, or that Lester might have been practicing in his spare time. I guess it livens things up a bit though.
*. Well, it was apparently shot in eight days and couldn’t have cost very much. I don’t think there’s much to say about it other than to acknowledge the fact that it exists.

Contact (2006)

*. Clocking in at less than 10 minutes, Hanro Smitsman’s Contact (Raak) is a perfect example not just of narrative trickery but economy. What’s even more impressive is how well these two attributes reinforce each other.
*. A boy (Rik) is bullied at school. His mom (Mirna) is bullied at home. A man (Martin) is rejected as a lover. These are all people trapped in a downward spiral of “what goes around comes around.” It’s a billiard-ball vision of human physics, with social interactions reduced to the act of people shoving other people away. Which sends them spinning off until they bump into someone else who they shove away in turn, often repeating the same dismissive epithets.
*. The way the story is structured helps drive the point home: not progressing in a linear fashion, or even in reverse, but turning in a circle around a climactic moment. This makes it all the more essential to pay attention to the matter of cause-and-effect, which is the film’s theme.
*. The editing is the way this all comes together. Note how, in the early going, there are skips in the action, where Rik is walking, and then the story seems to jump ahead. This doesn’t register as much more than a way of moving things along and getting rid of some connecting tissue, but these cuts are actually important because they lead us to think of them as not being essential. But later they will be.
*. This only becomes clear on a second viewing. In the break between Rik dropping the piece of cement we cut immediately to Martin swerving his car and yelling. The way we’re used to watching movies we think the cut is taking us directly from cause to effect, but in fact we’ve changed narrative streams. In a couple of other places there is similar sleight of hand. Because Martin and Mirna are still singing in the car we think, despite those gaps I mentioned, that no time has passed between the box hitting Rik and his retaliation from the bridge. Just as, when we cut from a shot of Rik running in one place to another shot of him running in another that the action has been more or less continuous. But it can’t have been. Those gaps were considerable.
*. All of this makes Contact a near perfect small package, paradoxically both rounded off and open-ended. Where does that brick fall? Or is it falling still? It may be, as I suggested, that these characters are caught in a downward spiral, but that spiral might also be an endless loop.

10,000 BC (2008)

*. If nothing else, at least the title made more sense than One Million Years B.C. (1966). So Hollywood was learning something about history. Very slowly, but they were learning.
*. 10,000 BC is full of historical inaccuracies as well. This is the result not so much of the Hollywoodization of the past as of the impact of CGI. An effects movie needs bigger monsters, bigger armies, and bigger buildings. The same thing was done to the Thermopylae story in 300.
*. It probably helped that Roland Emmerich, who likes to go big, was directing. Apparently a lot of people have expressed the opinion that this is Emmerich’s worst movie. I wonder what they think his best was. I don’t think there’d be much competition.
*. There is a lot of epic/fantasy New Zealand scenery to go with the CGI. One Million Years B.C., on the other hand, had Raquel Welch in a fur bikini. Give the ’60s the win. Cartoonishly sexy women are an essential ingredient for these flicks and I miss Raquel. Hell, I miss Rebecca Ferratti. Steven Straight and Camilla Belle can’t do much in the acting department, and merely looking pretty isn’t good enough.
*. The narration opens thusly: “Only time can tell us what is truth and what is legend.” Now how or why would time sort that out? Surely with the passage of time the line only becomes blurrier.
*. OK, enough fun. This is a silly movie that was savaged by critics but managed to do decent box office because it’s lightweight nonsense without any pretensions of being something more. It’s badly missing a sense of humour, and sure the CGI hasn’t held up. I’ve seen better CGI tigers in paper towel commercials. But the terror birds (Phorusrhacidae) are something new and the stampede of mastodons was a decent way to wrap things up. If I were still twelve years old I would have probably enjoyed it. But I grew up with posters of Raquel Welch in a fur bikini. Things were better then.