How does one begin to describe “10,000 B.C.”?
It is a mess, a highlight reel of lavish effects in search of a story, and laughable in its attempts to be anything more. It makes the most of its impressively daunting saber-toothed tigers and lumbering woolly mammoths with glittering tusks, but when the time comes to focus on the human elements of Roland Emmerich and Harald Kloser’s pedestrian narrative, the movie is hopelessly inept.
Inspired, one suspects, by Mel Gibson’s “Apocalypto,” “10,000 B.C.” recounts the complicated ballad of D’Leh (Steven Strait) and Evolet (Camilla Belle), a handsome pair of prehistoric lovers bound to one another by a passion that is alluded to but never adequately explained.
D’Leh is a hunter, tormented by the knowledge that his father abandoned the family’s small tribe, presumably due to cowardice. Evolet is his fair, blue-eyed maiden, kidnapped by roving warlords and branded a witch. D’Leh vows to save her, and an epic pursuit begins.
D’Leh’s journey is a sweeping rite of passage, an odyssey littered with savage, ostrich-like beasts against a landscape of harsh, snow-swept mountains.
Ultimately, our man in prehistory proves his mettle by laying waste to the heathen slave traders who have captured his true love.
The finale is a foregone conclusion, framed with heavy-handed self-importance by Kloser’s thunderous score and Omar Sharif’s ponderous narration.
Though “10,000 B.C.” is considerably less violent than Gibson’s tribute to primal fury, it is no less bombastic.
Emmerich, who also directed “Independence Day” and “The Day After Tomorrow,” is no stranger to shallow flights of escapism, but “10,000 B.C.” is a particularly dubious achievement in spite of its expensive-looking visuals.
It is an exercise in empty-headed mythmaking, divorced from both reality and any semblance of cohesive storytelling.
Starring: Steven Strait, Camilla Belle, Cliff Curtis, Joel Virgel,
Affif Ben Badra
Written by Roland Emmerich, Harald Kloser
Directed by Roland Emmerich
Running time: 1 hour, 49 minutes