- Rated PG-13
- Buy the DVD
All photos © Warner Bros.
Reviewed by Jason Zingale
oland Emmerich has officially run out of luck. After re-creating the event film with the SFX-heavy “Independence Day,” the German-born director has continuously failed at recapturing the magic of his summer blockbuster. “Godzilla” was considered one of the worst remakes ever made, while the environmentally aware “The Day After Tomorrow” felt more like a big-budget John Kerry campaign commercial than an actual movie. His latest effort, the historical epic “10,000 BC,” follows in the very same footsteps of disappointment, but for a totally different reason. Though not a single original idea can be found throughout the course of the film, Emmerich’s biggest offense is making a movie that completely disregards the integrity of his audience.
Set in 10,000 BC because, well, it makes for a cool title, the film stars Steven Strait as D’Leh, a young mammoth hunter whose prehistoric tribe is in danger of extinction. When a band of Persian warriors raids his village and kidnaps several of their people – including his childhood love, Evolet (Camilla Belle) – D’Leh leads a small group of hunters to rescue them. The journey takes them through snow-covered mountains and Amazonian jungles, introduces them to new tribes, and pits them against predators like Sabertooth tigers, wooly mammoths and terror birds, oh my. Their incredible voyage leads them to a Persian empire, where D’Leh must lead an ever-growing army against a god-like ruler who’s enslaved their people.
For anyone wondering what a terror bird is, it’s one of two things. Either it’s a giant mutant ostrich, or it’s a Velociraptor with feathers. Whatever the case, it’s certainly more mythical than the other creatures that appear here, and it looks terribly out of place. Nevertheless, for all the hoopla surrounding the possibilities of using CG to reproduce classic prehistoric predators, most of the money shots have already been spoiled by the trailer. The Sabertooth tiger appears in exactly two scenes, and his introduction is instantly turned into a farce when D’Leh rescues him from certain death, saying, “If I free you, you must promise not to eat me.” Sigh.
Without much of an awe factor, “10,000 BC” quickly crumbles amidst its skin-and-bones love story. There’s not a whole lot of meat on this prehistoric mess, and where Mel Gibson’s similarly themed “Apocalypto” managed to be thrilling, you couldn’t care less about what happens to D’Leh, Evolet or the rest of the glorified cavemen. The end result is a melting pot of far superior films, including the aforementioned “Apocalypto,” last year’s “300,” and Emmerich’s own “Stargate.”
Anyone who’s even mildly excited about “10,000 BC” has already seen it a dozen times before. Not even Omar Sharif’s narration – which transforms the film into a sort of children’s pop-up book – will make the movie any more appealing to dinosaur-obsessed tykes. At least, let’s hope not, or they might just be the laughing stock of school when they arrive on the first day believing cavemen spoke English.