A million years ago in Africa, the last of the Australopithecines is on flight from the humans, who killed the rest of his clan. Alone, seeking others of his kind, he traverses steppes, dese... Read allA million years ago in Africa, the last of the Australopithecines is on flight from the humans, who killed the rest of his clan. Alone, seeking others of his kind, he traverses steppes, deserts and mountains until he reaches the coast. But there are already humans, there.A million years ago in Africa, the last of the Australopithecines is on flight from the humans, who killed the rest of his clan. Alone, seeking others of his kind, he traverses steppes, deserts and mountains until he reaches the coast. But there are already humans, there.
Like with all these types of adventure films set in the far-distant past of a prehistoric time period, it's really just a load of "guess-work" being done as no one will ever truly know how certain events may have played-out back then in a bygone age. And as a result of this, many filmmakers are often presented with the daunting task of trying to think up a somewhat plausible scenario that's appropriately suited to the plot and fits in well with the ancient era of which their film's story takes place (it must be a real tough challenge for them, essentially having to start from scratch and come up with the bare-basics of something compelling). Also, can't forget about the wondrous beauty of the picturesque landscapes (mostly vast canyons and mountain ranges) as the production crew go-off globe trotting around the world to many different countries to shoot their exotic locations; this gives it a more immersive feeling, being in an actual environment where you're thoroughly surrounded by various wild creatures (rather than them having taken the easy way out by just doing it all in the safety and comfort of a studio's set with a bunch of professionally trained actor animals).
Done in a sort of pseudo-nature documentary style (with some handy voiceover narration being provided, from time to time), the film's principal story is to do with the miraculous evolution of Australopithecus robustus (a primitive species of upright-walking ape) that on the outside looks almost human but really, still has the brainpower of a chimpanzee (so no smarter than the modern simians we have around today, honestly). While trekking through the vast wilderness of his rough-but-beautiful savannah home and living amongst some of the harmless (and dangerous) African megafauna, our lonely wandering primate protagonist is on the run from and constantly being pursued by a brutally ferocious clan of what's presumably Homo habilis (another one of our closely-related ancient ancestors) as they've been savagely running amok in Ethiopia's Great Rift Valley, wiping-out other members of his own kin (most likely leaving him as the only sole-surviving one left in his family group, or perhaps even the very last of his kind altogether). Will he be able to escape the ravaging bloodthirsty clutches of this other, more malicious ape-man race when they have the unfair advantage of using a relatively newly-discovered weapon - the "invention" of fire!
I really liked the portrayal they went with for the A. Robustus, managing to capture the genuine behaviour of how an early stone-tool using "man-ape" might've possibly acted in the old stomping-grounds of its open grassland plains habitat (it's a purely visceral performance and a darn good one at that). And the authentic hominid depiction in question is played by none other than Peter Elliot who was like the Terry Notary of his day, as in he was always the industry's regular go-to actor for convincing primate performances; he also most notably contributed his peculiar primal talents to King Kong Lives (1986) with Linda Hamilton, Gorillas in the Mist (1988) with Sigourney Weaver, and Congo (1995) with Laura Linney. But before all of that though, he was probably best known for his participation in Quest for Fire (1981) and Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes (1984). And the devilish personalities of the H. Habilis (not to mention the overall appearance of their body posture) remind me of the mischievous little gremlins from Joe Dante's 1984 horror-comedy of the same name.
The only other thing I can even think to equate this film to is the BBC's Walking with Cavemen mini-series (2003) which seems like a very accurate comparison to make seeing as how it too has an awful lot of backbreaking labour in the form of physical actors in unbearable working conditions all day outdoors with the blistering red-hot sun beating down on them, all while wearing full body-suits and prosthetic makeup-effects, probably suffering from mild heatstroke and experiencing some of the most intense pain throughout a majority of this long and highly difficult shooting process (seriously, every single one of those stellar performers deserved a whole heck of a lot more recognition for their hard efforts than they got). However, I do feel the only downside is that this particular type of movie won't be to everyone's taste as you really have to put yourself in just the right kind of proper mindset to actually want to sit down and watch it, with the film mainly being just a purely visual piece of natural storytelling and not so reliant on dialogue-heavy exposition (except for that which is helpfully provided to us by our occasionally on-and-off narrator).
- Jun 8, 2021