Here is a movie that, for all intents and purposes, should have been fun. There is no reason why it shouldn't have been fun. All of this begs the question: What went wrong? At what point did this old time epic fly off the rails into the realm of the also-rans?
Granted, I did not go in with terribly high expectations, but that doesn't change the fact that in the end, this effort falls short. I will not deny that there were a few moments of sheer goofy entertainment, but not enough to make it a film worth seeing. 10,000 B.C. is like the wreckage left behind by Apocalypto and Pathfinder, with just a touch of One Million Years BC.
It opens with the a prophecy delivered by Old Mother, the elder of a small tribe of hunters and gatherers. The prophecy revolves around the arrival of a blue-eyed girl who will be claimed by the hunter who brings down a mammoth during the last hunt. Then, a great number of their people will be kidnapped by "four-legged demons" and that the two will step up and lead them all into the future.
Following the delivery of the prophecy everything begins to fall into place. The hunt comes and our hero D'leh (Steven Strait) is successful in his quest to take down a mammoth, although it is not the clean kill that was desired. Anyway, he still claims the white staff signifying him as the hunt leader, not to mention his beloved blue-eyed girl, Evolet (Camilla Belle). Shortly thereafter, he comes clean regarding his impropriety in taking down the mamoth, returns the white spear, and sulks for a while.
Meanwhile, the four-legged demons arrive, as expected. Much like the Mayans in Apocalypto, they arrive with no warning, and attack with no mercy. They claim their prisoners and leave as swiftly as they came.
This is where the adventure truly kicks in. D'leh, with a few of his fellow tribesman, heads off into uncharted territory to find his woman, his people, and exact his revenge upon the demons. Along the way they gather friends from other tribes, each hearing of his quest and wishing to help end the tyranny of the evil demons; although, the demons may not be demons, just truly evil humans. However, they are in the employ of someone who may be an alien or an Atlantean, if the film's mythos is to be trusted.
Everything culminates in a massive battle on the pyramid construction site being run by the bad guys. Slavery, albino aides, pet mammoths, sacrifices — this has everything plus a large fighting force. Will D'leh be able to overcome the large odds with which he is faced?
When you look at the overall story, you might as well be describing Pathfinder. Still, it does not sound all that bad; cliched perhaps, but not necessarily bad. Like I said earlier, this should have been fun. The problems begin with a terrible script, dinosaur birds, and a tame sabretooth kitty. The film does not waste much time before heading into the ridiculous.
If nothing else, the final twenty minutes are kind of fun as the fight is taken to the bad guys on a gigantic scale. It spills throughout the building zone and is generally well staged. The problem is the ninety minutes you have to sit through in order to get to it. Well, I guess the narration made it better, giving it a faux epic feel, plus it is delivered by Omar Sharif (Lawrence of Arabia, Dr. Zhivago).
Roland Emmerich directed the film, and he is capable of better than this. Perhaps not much better, but he does have a proven track record for delivering entertaining event-type films. Just take a look at some his movies: The Day After Tomorrow, Independence Day, on back to Stargate, entertaining all to varying degrees.
Now, here is a way I found to at least attempt to inject some fun into the proceedings. It references one of Emmerich's earlier films; I am sure you know the one of which I speak. It is the only one that spawned a television series that lasted ten seasons, which in turn spawned a spin-off series that has lasted four seasons so far. Yes, that's right, Stargate. I am sure if you are a fan of that film and/or series the connection is already being made. For those of you who are not fans, or haven't seen the film, read on.
Now, it is not a perfect fit, but hear me out. In Stargate mythos, the Goa'uld were responsible for the pyramids and are the reason that humans are found on so many other planets across the universe. Now, this film features powerful bad guys enslaving large numbers of people to build their pyramid. The bad guys have these unearthly deep voices and they report to a leader referred to as a god, who also speaks very strangely and whose face is always obscured and has servants who cover their faces and live in great fear of their leader. It is my belief that these bad guys are Jaffa in training and their god is none other than Anubis in an earlier form. I also believe that some of these people are the ones that were taken to the other planets to do their bidding and that there is a Stargate hidden within one of the pyramids.
Sure, I could be wrong, but looking at 10,000 B.C. as a prequel to Stargate offers up some interesting ideas and helps make this slightly more entertaining.
Bottom line. Not a good movie. It is better than Pathfinder, but that doesn't mean much. It is a dumbed down Apocalypto (not that that was particularly intelligent, but you know what I mean). It has some awful dialogue, mediocre effects, and a cliche story. While you could do much worse, you can also do much better.