If we've just wrapped up the summer season of dumb movies, it must be time to start talking about the next one. And sure enough, the spies at Ain't It Cool News have been sneaking into test screenings of next spring's bit of nonsense from Roland Emmerich, 10,000 B.C., scheduled to open in March. And they don't have nice things to say about.
I won't quote from the screening reports -- you can read them yourself here and here if you must. The gist of them is this: The flick is lame because it both ignores and indulges in racial stereotypes: cave people of all colors live in harmony during the last ice age, but a white, blue-eyed girl is the hero's prize for protecting his people against an evil "lost civilization" that builds pyramids in the desert; because there's not enough violence for a movie about a life-and-death clash of civilizations; and because there are too many Snuffleupaguses.
Or woolly mammoths, that is. Mammoths in the desert? Cold-weather creatures in the heat? Hmmm. Well, this is Roland Emmerich, he of The Day After Tomorrow and Independence Day fame. (Frozen hurricanes? PC viruses taking out alien computers?) Nonsense is his stock in trade. But those flicks were fun, if idiotic. But the fanboys explicitly state that this is not the case with 10,000 B.C.
I have to admit, I was kinda hoping, after I saw the teaser trailer for the movie, that it would be a kind of Clan of the Cave Bear (the book, not the movie) meets Stargate (or at least the first half of that Emmerich flick). Looks like I'll have to put that hope aside.
Here's a big mystery: Why would Warner Bros. give us the opportunity to dis the movie so long before it opens? I'm mystified as to why the studios continue to hold test screenings of movies like this one. Can the genuine value of feedback from early audiences possibly outweigh the negative word-of-mouth bad movies will inevitably spawn? (Because there's no way you can keep fanboy spies out of screenings, and no way to stop them talking afterward.) I can't see how. Good movies might benefit from test screenings, might garner some comments from audiences that will help tweak them into even better movies. But bad movies can't be saved by focus groups... and then the fanboys have fodder for their bad movie grapevine.
And then it spreads across the Net. Like I'm doing right here.
MaryAnn Johanson (email me)
reviews, reviews, reviews! at FlickFilosopher.com