It seems with just about every big movie that comes out The History Channel must put together a documentary loosely tying into the concept if it relates to history of some kind. A little while ago 300 got the treatment with a historical accompaniment entitled Last Stand of the 300. More recently Roland Emmerich's 10,000 B.C. got the same with a near simultaneous release of Journey to 10,000 B.C.. For better or worse the two really have nothing to do with each other though it's safe to say this documentary is a tad more embellished than the typical History Channel outing.
Like most History Channel documentaries this one includes a selection of professionals in the field providing commentary on the subject matter. Included here are professors, historians, and archaeologists from all around though the breadth of content is kept rather sensational and speculative in most instances. In addition to these commentators are dramatized snippets with actors and CGI elements mixed in between. The result is a documentary that provides a little more entertainment than information but it's still a worthwhile watch if you're interested in the subject matter.
Journey to 10,000 B.C. begins with a discussion about how humans came to the Americas and how our ancestors survived dramatic climate changes and encounters with deadly predators. Quite the focus at the beginning is on the mammoth as a professor and some of his students are spending some time excavating a site where a large bone was discovered. This brings up the subject about hunting and how humans devised ways to take down the giant beasts. After all in this era it was either kill or be killed and this was the only way that Paleo-Indians could survive. With a high amount of narrative a tacky looking CGI event comes up showing these Paleo-Indians out on the hunt.
Scattered in between these dramatized bits are many talking heads bringing their own views and opinions as kind of a backdrop to the dramatizations. One fantasizes about how kids behaved in these packs of people while another talks about the hunter's mentality. As I said, it's all incredibly speculative and because of that you have to take everything with a grain of salt.
The best and most informational sections of this documentary have to do with the many archaeological discoveries throughout the years. I found the talk about the La Brea tar pit to be the most fascinating as it detailed some of the findings of Dr. Christopher Shaw and his team over the years. The saber tooth cat is brought up here as well as other carnivores of the time period. Other archaeological findings include remains of camps, stone shavings, and locations of spearheads known as Clovis points. The Clovis help archaeologists figure out the pattern of how Paleo-Indians migrated with most points being located in the Eastern Americas. From here the talk goes on to discuss the ice age and how a meteor strike presumably happened. This wiped out massive amounts of life and caused several species to become extinct. Not only that but it also prompted the Paleo-Indians to move west which would explain many spearhead locations in the western part of America.
For what it is Journey to 10,000 B.C. isn't a bad documentary. It takes a lot of what we know from findings at dig sites and extrapolates upon that to create more of a story than a historical recounting of events. Since the subject matter comes from a pre-historic period it's not very surprising that the feature here is sensationalized. The light narration keeps the material grounded and commentators help lend some weight to it but in the end this isn't a documentary you're watching for information. If you're intrigued by this or find archaeological content fascinating then you'll undoubtedly get some mileage out of it but even so this release is best served as a rental.
Journey to 10,000 B.C. is presented on DVD with letterboxed widescreen and is non-anamorphic. Take that aspect ratio with a grain of salt and you'll find decent video quality. The picture here contains very little grain, moments are relatively sharp, and there are no compression artifacts anywhere. The terrible looking CGI sticks out like a sore thumb when compared to the in-studio production but both elements have a very polished look about them.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo presentation is The History Channel standard when it comes to documentaries. If you're looking for an immersive 5.1 track you're going to be left out in the dark because releases such as this simply do not need it. The quality of the sound is good with defined clarity and a decent presence on the front channel. There were no problems with distortion or dropout with this release or any other flaw to speak about. The presentation is simply barebones all around.
If you're looking for special features on Journey to 10,000 B.C. you're going to disappointed. There's absolutely nothing on this disc which is kind of a surprise. Usually we'll see an additional documentary or scenes that were edited out with History Channel releases but this one is empty.
Journey to 10,000 B.C. is a mildly entertaining documentary but it's rather underwhelming in the grand scheme of things. Repetitive and dramatized content can only take the release so far and average presentation values don't help things out. The material in this documentary is very haphazard with the commentators revisiting the same topics again and again. Not only that but there's very little information to be found here. Due to all of these things Journey to 10,000 B.C. isn't a must see and if you're interested in the material the disc is only graded a rental.
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