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Into the Past, and the Preposterous, in '10,000 B.C.'

10,000 B.C. is as crazy as it wants to be. It plunders the past and plunders other movies with that peculiar Hollywood combination of the earnest and the preposterous that has to be seen to be believed.

Who knew, for instance, that woolly mammoths were used to build the pyramids? True story.

The idea behind 10,000 B.C. is that the Ice Age is not a time, but a place that people could simply walk out of — if they had a heck of a good reason to hit the trail. Our hero, the hunter D'Leh, has that reason: His beloved Evolet has been kidnapped by a band of marauding slave traders.

So D'Leh starts walking, encountering everything from saber-toothed tigers to a flock of enormous and quite hostile chickens. He ends up in a proto-Egyptian civilization run by effete priests — dead ringers for refugees from Mel Gibson's Apocalypto. Naturally, he leads a revolt.

More than anything, 10,000 B.C. is an updated version of those old Saturday-matinee action films. It's filled with hair's-breath escapes, wild coincidences, things foretold by ancient prophecy and mysterious places from which No one has ever returned. (Cue the ominous music.)

10,000 B.C. even employs the veteran Omar Sharif to read a pious voice-over that relies on sentiments like, "Only time can teach us what is truth and what is legend." The oracle, my friends, has spoken.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Kenneth Turan is the film critic for the Los Angeles Times and NPR's Morning Edition, as well as the director of the Los Angeles Times Book Prizes. He has been a staff writer for the Washington Post and TV Guide, and served as the Times' book review editor.