‘10,000 B.C.’ movie review: a historic low for director Roland Emmerich

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A ridiculous excuse for a blockbuster, Roland Emmerich’s 10,000 B.C. marks a new low for the filmmaker. And that ain’t easy; Independence Day, Godzilla, and The Day After Tomorrow were hardly pillars of American cinema. 

10,000 B.C. takes us back, before the time of caveman who spoke in grunts and groans in 80’s films like Quest for Fire and Clan of the Cave Bear and even before campy ’66 favorite One Million Years B.C., back to that magical time where good-lookin’ cavepeople spoke broken contemporary English with quasi-European accents and fought prehistoric monsters (but not reptilian dinosaurs; please, for the historical accuracy.) 

Meet D’Leh (Steven Strait), aspiring mammoth hunter with a crush on the beautiful, blue-eyed Evolet (Camilla Belle). When an invading force right out of Conan plunders their village and kidnaps Evolet and others, D’Leh leaps into action and begins a long, tedious journey through snow-covered mountains, jungles, and deserts to get her back. 

On the way, he encounters other tribes – good ones who speak English, and bad ones who speak in *hiss* foreign languages (subtitled for our pleasure) – a pack of wild ostriches(?), and a benevolent sabre-toothed tiger of questionable CGI quality.

By the time we get to ancient Egypt, with wooly mammoths building the pyramids (really) and D’Leh leading a slave revolt, the film has lost all credibility. 

And yet, what should be an entertaining experience – good for laughs, at least – becomes maddeningly dull. While the screenplay layers preposterous action scenes on top of an even more preposterous story, Emmerich takes everything far too seriously, slogging through every detail of the plot as if we cared, frequently cutting to slow, laborious scenes designed to let the “mythology” seep in. The result is deadening. 

Cast fails to make any kind of impression; Cliff Curtis manages to create the only three-dimensional character in the film as D’Leh’s mentor Tic’Tic, but Straight is incredibly bland as our hero, and while Belle makes for a good-lookin’ cavewoman, she’s wearing far too much clothing. 

One yearns for Raquel Welch and her fur bikini. A true bright spot: wildly overdone narration by Omar Sharif, which is delivered with the raw conviction of Seinfeld‘s J. Peterman.

10,000 B.C.

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Jason Pirodsky

Jason Pirodsky

Jason Pirodsky has been writing about the Prague film scene and reviewing films in print and online media since 2005. A member of the Online Film Critics Society, you can also catch his musings on life in Prague at expats.cz and tips on mindfulness sourced from ancient principles at MaArtial.com.

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