Roland Emmerich is no stranger to overblown epics with meagre emotional heft. After all, he’s the director responsible for Independence Day, 98’s Godzilla remake and The Day After Tomorrow, ‘busters that sacrifice story and character on the altar of sensory bombardment. If he’d thrown the same iron fist at this muddled tale of a pre-historic hero and his troubles with strangely pale-faced Egyptians and wily pachyderms then 10,000 B.C. might’ve risen, if only occasionally, out of its family-friendly, CGI-induced stupor. Alas, Emmerich’s chosen to tread lightly here, re-imagining a bloodless past of trample-free mammoth attacks and warrior-tribes with pearly-white teeth and perfect grammar.
As our lumbering story unfolds we meet D’Leh (Steven Strait), a mountain-dwelling mammoth-hunter with a new-wave name and Lenny Kravitz hair. Shortly, his girlfriend Evolet (sparkly-eyed Camilla Belle) is snatched in a night raid by shadowy slavers, who are scooping every unlucky soul they can find to help them build giant pyramids. With the aid of a bad-ass African clan, D’Leh and several of his daftly named brethren (Ka’Ren?) launch a counter-strike to free the girl and save the world from imposing triangular buildings.
Raquel Welch’s fur-bikini frolics in One Million Years B.C. aside, films about cavefolk and their daily hassles have never worked out well. That particular circle remains unbroken here. Apart from one admittedly awe-stirring, Cecil B DeMille-style pyramid-construction scene, the rampant use of computer-powered pageantry merely makes the film look like a pricey Xbox game. Omar Sharif’s ponderous narration, the sub-Thunderdome wardrobe and the endless wide-angle shots of grumpy dreadlocked dudes clomping through the snow don’t help much, either. All of which could’ve added up to an uproarious slice of high camp on a par with Showgirls, King Kong Lives or even Troll 2. Sadly, 10,000 B.C. isn’t funny – unintentionally or otherwise – for a nanosecond. It’s just overlong and turgid. You know you’re in trouble when even a lunging sabretooth tiger can’t liven your evening…
A beggar's banquet of milky CGI beasties and clunky battle-porn set-pieces, 10,000 B.C. is an extravagant waste of time, money and effort. Fans of caveman antics may want to go with something more historically accurate. Like The Flintstones.