100 Million BC (2008)

The Asylum presents an ineptly scripted, micro-budget time travel thriller directed by Griff Furst. Shooting Star UK R0 DVD.

The Film

A US Navy SEAL team arrives at a base in Los Angeles, they have been called to take part in a top secret operation. Back in the 1940s, the Navy attempted to develop stealth techniques as part of Operation Rainbow which lead to the infamous Philadelphia Experiment. Instead of developing a cloaking device, they accidentally stumbled across time travel and built a time machine using the technology. A specialist team was sent back to 70 Million BC to test the device - unfortunately an error with controlling the return process meant that the team was left in the past with no way to return. With a return device now developed, the SEAL team is sent back through time to find the scientists - arriving in the Cretaceous era they discover a small group of survivors who have been living there for some six years and beam them back, but in doing so, leave the portal open long enough for an enourmous dinosaur to be transported to modern day Los Angeles...

Best known for their impoverished "mockbusters" including Snakes on a Train (2006) and 2012: Ice Age (2011) and their micro-budgetted creature features including Mega Shark vs Crocosaurus (2010) The Asylum is one of the fastest growing production companies of the early 21st Century. 100 Million BC opens with a rather generic time travel storyline before turning its sights on that year's highly marketed Cloverfield (2008) (although the 'dinosaur in the big city' sequence is more remniscent of The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997)). Written by Asylum regular Paul Bales (The Da Vinci Treasure (2006)), on first glance the script is functional with a few interesting ideas, but crumbles into dust on closer inspection.

The first part of the film is the most interesting, with time travel always making for an enjoyable plot engine. Unfortunately the flaws start to become apparent very quickly, Bales has inexplicably decided to make his "elite SEAL team" a bunch of morons who slack around and answer back to the scientist giving the briefing as though they were bored college kids, he is perhaps trying to make them all seem like "rebels", but completely fails at this by simply ommitting to include any sort of characterisation to the group at all. The group set off without any gear or supplies, just some seemingly completely useless guns and proceed to get decimated by dinosaurs that eat half the cast as they fail to follow even the most basic military tactics (there is no explanation as to why they do not take a vehicle, since the arrival of the dinosaur later proves that larger objects can also be moved by the device) - fortunately they find the survivors within a few minutes (whose spears are infinitely more effective than modern weapons).

Even if the film to this point had seemed acceptable, the appearance of these survivors just destroys any notion that the writer had any real interest in the project at all - although having left the modern day in the late 1940s, they speak modern English, have completely unstrained relationships despite the presence of two women and two men, and register no surprise at the appearance of this modern SEAL team, aspects that could very easily have been included in the script to make it a little more interesting. Probably the singular most baffling aspect of this part of the film however, is a frequently mentioned idea that there is much less oxygen in earth's atmosphere during this historical era and so several of the characters suffer breathlessness - yet most scientific sources suggest that oxygen levels would almost certainly have been higher at the time making this whole aspect of the film seem quite pointless.

The second half of the film brings the dinosaur back into the modern day, although for some reason, rather than the expected Tyrannosaurus, the dinosaur is explained to be a Carcharodontosaurus, presumably chosen because it is larger than the T-Rex (although the creature animated in the film is infinitely larger than even this - the writer might have been better of just going down the 'unknown to science' route and completely made up the dinosaur). Unfortunately here the limitations of the budget really start to kick in as the cast of characters never really expands and we are left with the idea of an entire city completely ignoring a rampaging dinosaur who is destroying large swathes of real estate and crushing cars (completely contradicting the theme of Cloverfield which it seems to be trying to mimic) - a few bored looking police officers show up for a while but then disappear leaving the time travelling cast to try and kill the monster in a never particularly exciting climax. The script would have been better served by sticking entirely to the time travel section and Cretaceous era settings which at least could go some way to hiding the small budget.

We have undoubtedly been spolit by the equisite CGI of documentaries like Walking with Dinosaurs (2000), but the CG effects in 100 Million BC are comically poor. For a studio who rely on CG effects as the focal point of most of their films, you might have expected a more polished look but the dinosaurs attacks look like scenes from student projects (there are infinitely better effects available on non-commercial Youtube shorts than on show here) and in the LA scenes, CGI helicopters dart across the sky without any attempt to animate them realistically. Despite attempts to define the monster as the real life Carcharodontosaurus, the creature that is presented here looks nothing like any real dinosaur and it seems to change in size variously throughout the sequence.

After the CG team the biggest criticism goes out to the costume department who decided tries to dress the 1940s team survivors in attire that would look hand-made, but is clearly just modern clothing, which makes their already anachronistic appearance even more prominent (the black wonderbra was certainly not invented in the 1940s). Editing cannot escape criticism either - many of the attack scenes are very choppily edited making it hard to know what is going on at all, although this is probably more an attempt to hide the poor CG effects than anything else. There is one practical gore effect in the film, which looks pretty decent, but other than that the production is blood free, while a generic soundtrack does little to add atmosphere or tension.

Michael Gross is the biggest name here, most recognisable from his parts in the Tremors films, he plays the head of the project with a gravitas that the film would be lost without, while Christopher Atkins (The Blue Lagoon (1980)) gives his all as the lead survivor. Performances in the rest of the cast range from decent to completely inept but fortunately the main cast are decent enough to keep the film moving. The beautiful Marie Westbrook who plays one of the 1940s survivors is worth watching, although it is hard to believe that six years previously she would have been considered old enough for such as important mission as she was on.

100 Million BC is a somewhat enjoyable film, but like most Asylum projects, it just falls rather short - the production is too slight and the main ideas too poorly developed in the script to make this a 'good' film, yet it is lacking the gore or sex that could have made it a proper exploitation film and it fails to play up the comic aspects that could have made it a parody. Instead it falls into something of a no man's land and as such it is hard to know just who the target audience is. Modern B-movie fans might get some enjoyment from this, but there are many more entertaining options available.

In Brief
Anyone famous in it? No-one of note
Directed by anyone interesting? Griff Furst - an occasional actor and director firmly in the B-movie stable, his directoral credits include Lake Placid 3 (2010) and Swamp Shark (2011).
Any gore or violence ? A single bloody effect but nothing more.
Any sex or nudity? None
Who is it for? Really only of interest to Asylum collectors.

Visuals Original Aspect Ratio - 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. Colour.
Picture quality is quite poor for a modern film, looking very soft throughout - possibly an NTSC > PAL transfer.
Audio English stereo - sounds fine.
Subtitles None.
Extras The disc includes:
  • 'Back in Time' - a short documentary piece about the making of the film, showing some surprisingly good looking dinosaur puppets (which we barely see in the final film). Audio very poor, hard to make out. (5 min)
  • 'Evolution' - another piece on the making of the film, with more shots of the dinosaur models. (8 min).
  • Extended and Deleted Scenes and Bloopers - exactly what you would expect, not really worth watching. (3 min and 4 min respectively)
  • Trailer
Region Region 0 (ALL) - PAL
Other regions? Available from Asylum in the US with the same bonus features, also has a 5.1 surround sound track.
Cuts? Believed to be fully uncut. Print language is English.



All text in this review written by Timothy Young - 30th January 2012.
Text from this review not to be used without authorization.

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