Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (June 23, 2008)
Director Roland Emmerich takes his eye for bombastic spectacle back to prehistoric times for 2008ís 10,000 BC. Members of the Yagahl tribe hunt massive elephantine beasts called Mannaks to survive. When those critters grow scarce, the Yagahl come on hard times, and some foresee the end of their civilization.
However, a seer called ďOld MotherĒ (Mona Hammond) predicts the future arrival of a great hunter, one we get to know as DíLeh (Jacob Renton). Eventually we meet him as a young adult (Steven Strait); as predicted, he kills the Mannak, and he also wins the right to his desired mate, Evolet (Camilla Belle).
Or so it appears, but DíLeh soon reveals the truth: he only stayed with the Mannak because his hand was caught in a net, and the creature died when it accidentally ran into his spear. DíLeh cedes his claim to Evolet since he won her with a lie.
DíLeh soon gets a chance to prove himself again, though. Mysterious ďdemonsĒ raid the Yagahl village and kidnap Evolet. DíLeh goes after her and encounters all sorts of adventures as he attempts to rescue his beloved.
As I prepped this review, I realized that Emmerich hadnít directed a film since 2004ís The Day After Tomorrow. That surprised me, as I didnít think heíd waited so long between movies. I guess thatís his MO now, since a similar gap occurred between Day and 2000ís The Patriot.
To some degree, I regard those long waits as a bad thing because I take some pleasure from the directorís flicks. Emmerichís movies rarely make a lick of sense, but theyíre always exciting and enjoyable. Heck, I even got a kick out of the much maligned Godzilla remake from 1998.
Unfortunately, BC stands as Emmerichís weakest effort since 1992ís Universal Soldier. Actually, I could argue BC is Emmerichís worst film period, simply because I canít remember Soldier well enough to compare the two. Is it better than BC? Maybe, maybe not, but Emmerichís most recent effort doesnít live up to even the modest pleasures of its other predecessors.
Most of the problems relate to story and characters. The plot remains threadbare at best and doesnít offer much to sustain 109 minutes of movie. The various scenarios exist mostly as an excuse for some prehistoric action, and they offer little to make themselves interesting or compelling. The clunky, stilted narration doesnít help matters either.
The same goes for the characters. We donít find a single memorable personality, partially because all the actors play them in the same somber, ponderous manner. Thereís no real variety on display, so they all blend into one. I donít think weíd care about them anyway, but the homogeneity becomes a drag.
Admittedly, no one goes to an Emmerich movie for rich characterizations and dynamic stories; we take in his flicks for basic popcorn-chomping thrills. Unfortunately, BC rarely delivers the goods in that domain either. Oh, the CG beasties provide good rendering and seem more realistic than often is the case. However, thatís not enough to create vivid action sequences.
Again, the lack of interesting characters harms matters to some degree, as the creatures show more personality than the humans. Even if I attempt to allow for that issue, though, thereís simply something missing from the action sequences. Theyíre not bad, but theyíre not all that involving, and they certainly donít compensate for the movieís other flaws.
I donít mind the general stupidity found in BC. Others have criticized dopey sequences like the one in which DíLeh tells a saber-toothed tiger he rescues not to eat him and the kitty complies. Sure, thatís absurd, but you canít worry about logic in this sort of flick; you just need to go with the ride.
And thatís fine with me when we get a lively, fun ride. 10,000 BC simply never merits the suspension of disbelief. It presents a rough, rambling narrative without the dynamic thrills that might allow me to forget its flaws. Too little entertainment develops in this forgettable adventure.