‘10,000 B.C.’ so simplistic, a caveman can understand it

Allan Lamb

Courtesy Warner Bros.

Credit: Ron Soltys

10,000 B.C.

Starring Steven Strait, Camilla Belle, Cliff Curtis

Directed by Roland Emmerich

Distributed by Warner Bros.

Stater rating (out of five): *

To expect anything more than high action, special effects and cheesy pseudo-philosophical dialogue from a Roland Emmerich (Stargate, Independence Day) movie would be to make oneself vulnerable to disappointment. Generally, however, one can hope to be at least mildly entertained, or at least humored. 10,000 B.C. has all of the former Emmerich qualities, but not the latter.

The film tells the story of D’Leh, a member of some prehistoric mammoth-hunting tribe on a quest to rescue his betrothed and other tribe members from “four-legged demons” (men on horses) and to fulfill some prophecy, in which no sense is made of in the film, made by their tribe’s matriarch. D’Leh, Tic’Tic and two others, set forth on a journey that takes them away from hearth and home to a hot jungle where they are chased down by man-eating ostriches. They reach barren Saharan Africa where their fellow tribesmen have been sold as slaves by the horsemen led by a guy who looks like Xerxes from 300, sans the facial piercings.

If that’s not ridiculous enough, the slaves are working on the pyramids of Egypt. The pyramids were not built until well after 3,000 B.C., and at this time, the land surrounding the Nile was pretty fertile compared to the desert it is today, and as portrayed in the film. This level of absurdity is only trumped when a God-figure, known as “Almighty,” is introduced as the leader of the enemy captors. D’Leh kills him, and everyone is set free, evoking not-too-distant memories of The Golden Compass.

It’s ironic that these superstitious people following the arbitrary prophecies of shamans kill a godhead without second thought. The film’s title is also ironic, as B.C. is a Christo-centric term conflicting with what seems to be the message. A better title might be 10,000 BCE.

Anachronisms aside, the film’s biggest flaw is the narration. Emmerich employs Omar Sharif to narrate when he can’t come up with dialogue or a scene to express, which is about every five minutes. This cheapens the film and makes the viewer feel patronized, as it becomes redundant after, oh, the first time. Even the tone Sharif uses sounds like he’s recording a read-along tape for a children’s book.

10,000 B.C. also seems to pander to the lunatic-fringe Coast-to-Coast AM listeners’ taste for pseudo-science and quasi-historical conjecture, much like Emmerich’s last film, The Day After Tomorrow, did.

The senseless prophecies and other cultural caveats of the different tribespeople add nothing to the boring story. A lot of what could work as interesting symbols and metaphors are just half-baked ideas Emmerich and writer Harald Kloser randomly scattered throughout the plot.

The film’s premise had potential, and good films like it have been made, even recently (Apocalypto). But like anything with potential, it needs to be better thought out to reach that potential.

Contact all editor Allan Lamb at [email protected].