When you’re director Roland Emmerich, you’re most subtle movie to date has been The Patriot. When you’re director Roland Emmerich, you’re movies tend to be sci-fi effects-drenced extravaganza’s like Stargate, Universal Soldier, The Day After Tomorrow and Independence Day. But most importantly, when you’re director Roland Emmerich, you’re probably expecting your audience not to be massively moved by your movies, but to at least have fun. You’re not expected, no matter how dire some of your efforts may be, to bore your audience. Even the crap-heap that was Godzilla is still watchable. But this is something that director Roland Emmerich seems to have forgotten for his latest effort, 10,000 B.C.
Something else that Roland Emmerich seems to have forgotten is this; he is not Mel Gibson. Gibson’s Apocalypto seems to be the watered-down template for Emmerich’s 10,000 B.C., with the changes basically being (a) have everyone speak English, and (b) put some pre-historic monsters in there for some fun. But where Gibson basically had a man trying to escape from an entire hunting party, this time we have Steven Strait’s D’Leh trying to get back his girlfriend Evolet (Camille Belle) from a warlord who has stolen 300‘s Xerxes barratone-in-a-cement-mixer voicebox.
But where Gibson had a straight-lined pulse-pounder, Emmerich drags everything to a snail’s pace by interwiving daddy issues, a psychic witch, and the lead character being involved in three, count ’em, THREE prophecies, all from different civilizations who happen to live near his own village. And on top of this, some of the scripting is down-right dodgy. “A White Sheet” is when its snowing, “Giant Sea Birds” are boats, “She had her breathe stolen” means she’s dead, and “Four-Legged Demons” are, in fact, men on horseback.
And then there’s some geographical issues. Now, we know there’s a difference between film-criticism and just plain nit-picking, but when the characters walk for a few hours from there mountainous terrain and find themselves in a tropical jungle, and from there a barren desert is nothing but a stone’s throw away, well, there’s definitely something up. This is probably why the country of origin is never discerned, for at any one time it could be Peru, Egypt or Madagascar.
But its not all bad. Lead actor Steven Strait is something a hybrid of Colin Farrell and Josh Hartnett, and spends most of the movie topless, which should please at least some viewers. And Camille Belle is nice in a “not quite a total damsel in distress” character. And some of the special effects involving the creatures, most notably the Woolly Mammoths are pretty good. But even here, the film falls down flat. One of the scenes involves the characters being chased through high grass by what seems to be a half turkey-half velociraptor, which isn’t very scary at all. And then the arrival of the Sabre Toothed Tiger is marred by the fact that it does ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. It just growls, jumps around a bit, and then wonders off.
All in all, Emmerich should stick to sci-fi. He has a better vision of a nihilistic future than he does of an optimistic past.
Three Out Of Ten.