"Q: What does the ‘B.C.’ stand for? A: Brainless Cheese."
I don’t attend Roland Emmerich movies expecting smart writing or believable characters. The German-born director of ‘Independence Day’ and the clumsily Americanized ‘Godzilla’ is so worn out after coming up with stunning but derivative images that he has no energy left to tell decent stories.The sad thing is that his latest eye candy epic ‘10,000 B.C.’ has only some of the dazzle of its predecessors and all the weaknesses.
Watching the White House being attacked by aliens in “Independence Day” almost made viewers forget the faulty logic that came before and after (how exactly did Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum master both flying a space pod and its computer system?).
In the new film, any wonder that’s to be gleaned from watching impossible images is lost when the prehistoric characters open their mouths and speak amusingly stilted English.
Our hero is a tribal hunter named D’Leh (Steven Strait) who soon finds that he has a greater challenge than tracking down a mammoth for dinner. A group of menacing horsemen dubbed the “four-legged demons” has kidnapped his girlfriend Evolet (Camilla Belle) and several of his fellow hunter-gatherers.
He and his mentor Tic-Tac, I mean Tic’Tic (Cliff Curtis) tread through what seems to be a continent trying to free their fellow villagers before they’re forced in slavery in the raiders’ city. The city looks like the one in “Apocalypto,” but it’s got a cool, gold-domed pyramid that you know is going to come crashing down on the bad guys.
The script by Emmerich and soundtrack composer Harald Kloser combines clichés and utter silliness. When D’Leh falls into a pit and finds himself stuck with a trapped saber tooth tiger, he admonished the beast, “If I free you, do not eat me!”
I expect a little corny stuff in an Emmerich movie, but I think it might have been more entertaining if the tiger had talked back to D’Leh.
As it stands, there’s a remarkable dearth of imagination on display in “10,000 B.C.” Because the setting is vague and the time comes before some known extinct civilizations, Emmerich could have wowed his viewers by populating the film with a world full of creatures and people that viewers couldn’t see outside of the movie theater.
Would anyone have fallen in love with the “Star Wars” movies if all George Lucas had to offer was his own tin-eared dialog?
After a while the mammoth stampedes get a little old, and the costumes are a weird rehash of American Indian, African and Egyptian designs. There really isn’t anything here that Cecil B. DeMille didn’t do better in the past. The stylized look of “300” might have been more appealing that what was thrown together here.
As with DeMille, some of the wordplay is unintentionally rib-tickling. Whenever D’Leh and his fellow primitives start giving convention-length speeches (“He is not a god!”), it’s challenging to keep a straight face. Omar Sharif attempts to add a sense of mystery with his voiceover narration, but the script he’s given simply tells viewers what they’ve already seen. It’s as if it were an inept commentary for the blind.After the clumsy banter and the goofy names (“D’Leh” is the German word for hero spelled backwards), I have to give Emmerich credit for creating a film that’s been funnier than “27 Dresses” or “Over Her Dead Body.” Nonetheless, it would be great if he could go back and learn how to tell a story that isn’t best forgotten in the sands of time.