Reviewed by Cassam Looch
Stars Camilla Belle, Steven Strait, Cliff Curtis, Joel Virgel,
Mo Zinal, Nathanael Baring, Mona Hammond, Marco Khan,
Reece Ritchie, Affif Ben Badra, Joel Fry, Omar Sharif
Written by Roland Emmerich & Harald Kloser
Certification UK 12A | US PG-13
Runtime 109 minutes
Directed by Roland Emmerich
We were promised an historical epic. We were promised an entertaining blockbuster. Heck, all of the trailers promised us a great big sabre-tooth tiger battle. And we were lied to. Roland Emmerich has to be the luckiest man working in Hollywood today. This is yet another turgid, messy and technically incompetent effects movie from the director of Independence Day, Godzilla and The Patriot. And with 10,000BC set to be yet another massive hit for him, there appears to be no end in sight to the production line of films Emmerich is making.
D’leh (Strait) is a young man who is desperate to claim the white spear as head of his tribe and also the hand of the beautiful Evolet (Belle). His father left the tribe and put Tic Tic (Curtis) in charge and as such he has become a surrogate keeping a great secret from the rest of his people. As the annual mammoth hunt begins, D’leh is crowned with the hunter title but before he can celebrate his beloved is captured by a group of slave traders. They are headed to the great pyramids with D’leh and Tic Tic in pursuit. Their mission appears futile as they are hideously outnumbered with their best fighters also captured or killed. But a fateful encounter with a sabre-tooth tiger convinces numerous other tribes that D’leh is a leader of men as has been prophesised, and so he follows his father's footsteps to free all the people of the land.
Trust me, it sounds more exciting than it actually is ... and it doesn’t even sound that great. Utterly derivitive in terms of plot, the historical inaccuracies are plentiful, but they are so obvious you could well let them slide and assume we were meant not to take it seriously. However that doesn’t excuse the leaden action and plodding narrative that fail to inspire, and some of the "special" effects are truly awful. The animals move in a jerky manner making them look fake from the off, and the best of them (a ferocious if still slightly unconvincing Sabre-tooth Tiger) makes only a brief cameo appearance. The sets for the final act are excellent, but the action imposed upon them distracts, as they are so predictable. The film rushes to its conclusion with huge gaps in logic filled in by lingering shots of the female lead in various exotic costumes.
Trying to blend mysticism and realism is another of 10,000BC's many flaws — especially in the finale, which makes a mockery of the small amount of plot that has gone before it. The film is unable to inspire on any level. It even fails to deliver any violence or gore, with the camera cutting away the very moment you want it to focus — just to get a family-friendly rating. Inferior to Mel Gibson’s increasingly impressive Apocalypto, the film is dated and old-fashioned ... and not in a good way.
SECOND OPINION | Stuart O'Connor * Let's get one thing straight up front: Roland Emmerich is a hack. I'm sorry, Roly, but you are. You keep churning out crap film after crap film. Awful, dire, trite rubbish like The Patriot and Godzilla and The Day After Tomorrow. But what really puzzles me is that they continue to do massive business at the box office. Which, to be honest, says more about the morons who pay to see your crappy films than it says about you. This thing here, 10,000BC, took about $35 million in the US over its opening weekend. How? Can't these people READ? I can't find ONE decent review of this film anywhere in the world. At the time of writing, its Tomatometer score at Rotten Tomatoes was a measly 7% — even the bottom-dwelling, scum-sucking Norbit managed 9%. So thanks to all those idiot Americans 10,000BC went straight to number one, even though it's a steaming great pile of number twos.
Where do I begin to list everything that's wrong with this film? Apart from the insane historical inaccuracies — I mean, really, woolly mammoths helping to build the pyramids in Egypt? — we have a tribe of people that appears to be made up of at least a dozen different races. For some inexplicable reason they all speak English, but with a variety of accents; we also have a rainbow of skin colours, but in that day and age, and on that continent, white has to be the least believable. Then there's the dialogue. I thought nobody in Hollywood could write worse dialogue than George Lucas. I was wrong. Then there's the shoddy CGI; the dull pace; the ridiculous, seen-it-all-before plot; the lack of grandeur that was promised in the trailer; the lack of excitement that was promised in the trailer; the lack of anyone getting trampled during the mammoth stampedes; the lack of anyone getting eaten by the sabre-tooth tiger. And don't get me started on those giant chickens. This is not a film for avoiding. This is a film for running away from at top speed, screaming "Roland suuuuuuucks".