Steven Strait, Camilla Belle, Omar Sharif, Cliff Curtis
Roland Emmerich, Harald Kloser
Beautiful to look at but impossible to recommend, "10,000 B.C." is a ludicrously sculpted film from the master of ludicrous sculptures, Roland Emmerich ("Independence Day," "The Day After Tomorrow").
I remember sitting in my local AMC Theatre several times over the past couple of months watching the pre-show trailer and short documentary about the making of "10,000 B.C." and thinking to myself "This is either going to be really awesome or it's going to completely suck."
I can honestly say I was wrong. "10,000 B.C." isn't really awesome, however, it also doesn't completely suck.
"10,000 B.C." is an absolutely sumptuous feast for the eyes. Emmerich, for all his flaws as a writer and storyteller, can build freakin' fantastic sets and he does so here. While there's hardly a minute in this film that is historically accurate, it is still pretty amazing to watch unfold.
The film starts with a voice-over prophecy (courtesy of Omar Sharif)about a great journey, and is rather quickly followed by D'Leh (Steven Strait) heading out on a journey to rescue Evolet (Camilla Belle), who has been enslaved along with other members of her tribe.
This epic love story (I'll admit. I laughed as I wrote that), is filled with laughably silly dialogue that I'm not completely convinced wasn't intentional. On more than one occasion, I found myself laughing at the idea of Ben Stiller's "Night at the Museum" having come to life once again. The problem is that Emmerich's magnificent special effects often feel more like distractions than along the lines of Peter Jackson's over-utilization of CGI in his far too chaotic "King Kong" adaptation.
But, I digress.
I found myself, on more than one occasion, remembering Mel Gibson's "Apocalypto" while watching "10,000 B.C." and thinking to myself that perhaps that film was even stronger than I'd remembered.
Geez, I'm digressing again.
The truth is I found my mind wandering a lot during "10,000 B.C." I found myself chuckling at the fact that the woolly mammoths and the awesome sabre-tooth tiger were actually better actors than either Steven Strait or Camilla Belle.
I found myself in awe of how clean and shiny everyone's teeth were in "10,000 B.C."
I found myself thinking that one scene of a mammoth chasing D'Leh reminded me a lot of a scene from "George of the Jungle." The people sitting near me didn't appreciate it when I started to sing...George. George. George of the Jungle.
In short, "10,000 B.C." is a remarkably beautiful yet soulless film that plods along with bland performances from its two leads (Belle is capable of much more, Strait is not) and a script that is so lame that it simply must be intentional.
Likely to be a guilty pleasure for those who've helped make Emmerich a go to director for visually arresting worlds, "10,000 B.C." is as much eye candy for the spirit as it is a lobotomy for the soul.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic