I used to get useful information from Rotten Tomatoes. It's still the best source for current movie reviews, but its overall ratings have become suspect. This happened to my favorite film critic in Houston (no names), and with Roger Ebert, whose reviews became less than credible for me; I can''t read his stuff any more. This is happening to more and more RT reviewers. Maybe they want to be liked (at least, by Festival organizers), or want to develop a reputation as tough. I don't know. But I've had to learn to read between the lines.
The recent release 10,000 B.C. received a rating of 10 (out of a hundred.) I went anyway, and was pleasantly surprised. It was, well, entertaining. True, the writers played fast and loose with recorded history, but that's hardly shocking in a (ahem) piece of fiction. I was amused that they tried to work in "ancient astronauts" and other outrè theories, as well as suggesting origins for previously undocumented but still real touchstones in human development.
There were intriguing swipes at mysticism and mythology, too. That they didn't cling to one or two myths, but played with the idea of how myths evolve, was refreshing.
(It's neither here not there, but this remiinded me very much of two of my favorite comic books. One was the Tarzan series. Like Edgar Rice Burroughs' pulp character, the comic-book Tarzan often discovered lost races or uncovered forgotten technology or history. The second series was, in the beginning, a back-up story in Tarzan called Brothers of the Spear. Two cultures in Africa, a white and a black one, worked together to fight slavers, conquerors, etc. and keep Africa free from assorted villainy.)
Anyway, the film. The film story is bound to Joseph Campbell's "hero's journey", and it works well for me. As far as the story's presentation, what's wrong with depicting truth, honesty, loyalty, love, and its opposite numbers, in bold strokes? In contemporary fiction (perhaps from the 1960s, or maybe from Freud's first real impact in American society) we work hard to depict in action the same virtues and flaws; we just feel some need to obsfucate them. I wonder if all this grayness is necessary.
I think it exists in part to create empathy for the characters; they are gray in the same fashion as we are. However, these characters will eternally be flawed. I've been told that we read fiction to learn from their mistakes. But I wonder if we don't read to learn new excuses.