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10,000 BC

10,000 BC

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 2 out of 5

EVEN by most blockbuster standards Roland Emmerich’s 10,000 BC is a dumb creation.

Billed as “a sweeping odyssey” that’s set in a “mythical age of prophesies, gods, sabre-tooth tigers and woolly mammoths”, the film is a spectacular historical mess that ultimately bores more than it thrills.

The film follows the exploits of young hunter D’Leh (Steven Strait) who finds himself the unlikely saviour of his civilization when a band of mysterious warlords raid his village and kidnap Evolet (Camilla Belle), the blue-eyed love of his life.

The ensuing rescue mission takes D’Leh into unknown lands and into contact with distant civilizations as he seeks to raise an army against the warlords that would seek to enslave all who stand in their way.

Emmerich describes the film as “a powerful human story” set against the epic backdrop of a made-up Africa and certainly works overtime to ensure the environment is constantly changing (whether it be snowy mountains, sweaty jungles or sweeping desert landscapes).

But he fails to convince on the all-important human level; his assertion that D’Leh and Evolet represent some kind of prehistoric Romeo & Juliet proving woefully misguided in light of the wooden performances of his cast.

Camilla Belle, in particular, serves as a particularly bland love interest, offering blank looks rather than any genuine anger or fear, while Steven Strait provides one of the most inept action heroes of recent years, as most of his exploits trigger an adverse reaction.

This might not have been so bad had the film not strived to take itself so seriously, but with a weighty voiceover provided by Omar Sharif and plenty of messages about the responsibility of leadership and nobility, 10,000 BC becomes quite a heavy-handed experience.

Worse still, the much-hyped special effects pale by comparison to the very highest standards, with the under-used sabre-tooth tiger looking clearly like a digital creation and lacking any bite, and a pack of marauding “terror birds” emerging as a pack of demented ostriches.

Only the woolly mammoths really impress and one suspects that’s where the mammoth’s chunk of the budget went.

10,000 BC might impress younger, less discerning viewers who have yet to develop a wider frame of reference, but it’s a mostly shoddy effort that feels tame and pedestrian next to the likes of Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto (which followed pretty familiar territory).

Emmerich may previously have scored big with the likes of Independence Day and The Day After Tomorrow but proves himself creatively extinct with this prehistoric misfire.

Certificate: 12A
Running time: 109mins
UK DVD Release: July 21, 2008