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10,000 B.C. not worth the time

Caitlin Ferraro | Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Perhaps the creators behind the spectacle of “10,000 B.C.” hoped for “300”-type success with this project by also using a March release date and colossal special effects. However, the film fails to arouse the same sentiments as the Spartan epic. The usually entertaining direction and writing of Roland Emmerich falls short. Not even the narration of the great Omar Sharif (“Lawrence of Arabia”) can save this work.

The shaky foundation of the film is the love story between D’Leh (Steven Strait) and Evolet (Camilla Belle), but the character development is so poor that you never feel emotionally connected to their saga. Evolet joins D’Leh’s tribe after hers is massacred beginning “the legend of the child with blue eyes.” Emmerich misses the mark with his audience because those who loved “300” came for the action and didn’t stay for a hokey love story.

The basic premise is that “four-legged demons” – pillagers on horses – kidnap D’Leh’s people including his ladylove Evolet. Armed with the sacred White Spear and his 21st century perfect smile, D’Leh along with Tic’Tic (Cliff Curtis), the tribe’s community elder, must rescue her while fulfilling a few prophecies along the way.

In one scene D’Leh is trapped in a hole with a massive CGI sabertooth tiger and instead of killing him he sets him free. Later the tiger remembers D’Leh as his releaser, which fulfills yet another cheesy prophecy as “the one who speaks to spear-tooth.” This allows him to garner support from other ransacked tribes to battle the evil empire. D’Leh and the warriors he rounds up, inspired by overly convenient prophecies, lead a revolt against a corrupt god-king who has been capturing slaves from primitive tribes to build pyramids.

Curtis is by far the strongest actor as his character mentors D’Leh through his journey. But, overall, the film fails to showcase the talents of the actors and instead displays the creativity of the CGI animators. The mammoth stampede and the warlord’s grand civilization were spectacular, but the plot was dreary and underwritten leading the warlords to have the most interesting personalities. All of the actors do their best with weak dialogue, so instead the mammoths, saber-tooth tiger, and huge ostrich-like creatures are the best characters in the film.

Most audience members are not historians, nor do they mind stretching reality to create cinematic wonder, but the exceptional amount of historical inaccuracies was overbearing. Viewers can stomach that D’Leh’s tribe speaks English, but did they have to have such atrocious accents? Not to mention the mascara dripping down Evolet’s cheek when she shed a tear or the hunters’ waxed chests. And how exactly does the climate change from bitter cold and blizzards to a tropical forest culminating in a barren desert in what felt like only a week’s span of time?

About an hour and a half into the film, the climax arrives, and there is finally some action. Be careful though because if you blink you might miss the big finale.

The battle scenes fail to pop off of the screen, perhaps due to the PG-13 rating. And while the film has marvelous landscapes for its one-dimensional heroes and villains to traverse, and the best computer effects that money can buy, the rest is simply a recycled combination of adventure clichés.

This film has so much untapped potential. At times it is entertaining and adventurous. But an abundance of awkward dialogue, historical errors and strange prophecies overshadow what should be the intrinsic fun of this type of film.