In writer/director/producer Roland Emmerich’s world, everything is larger-than-life. His latest film, “10,000 B.C.” may be epic in scope, but too bad Emmerich didn’t extend that vision and perspective to creating a credible story. What filmgoers are left with is a prehistoric “mighty whitey” story.
While we don’t have recorded history that tells us what actually happened 10,000 years B.C., that’s not a problem because filmmaker’s like Emmerich could sketch in the details. The man who gave us alien invasions in “Independence Day” and climate calamity in “The Day After Tomorrow” is interested telling a love story from deep in the past. Unfortunately, this story of a young man who must travel almost around the world to reclaim his woman from lecherous slave traders is long, tedious, implausible and just plain dumb.
In a remote mountain somewhere far, far away their matriarch, Old Mother senses impending doom when the lone surviving young girl comes to their village. Possessing white skin and blue eyes, young Evolet (Camilla Belle) has an admirer in young D’Leh (Steve Strait). Pledging his love and devotion, D’Leh tells the young girl she “would forever be in heart” (that would be acceptable if the young actor didn’t look like he was only seven years old when he said it!). Fast forward several years and just as the prophecy foretold, Evolet is captured by a group of “four-legged demons” (slave traders on horseback). With his trusty companion and mentor Tic’ Tic (Cliff Curtis), D’Leh sets out on foot traveling around the world for his lady love.
Traveling through several climate changes, meeting up with several African tribes and fighting off huge chickens, woolley mammoths elephants and sabertooth tigers, our hero stands up against all odds just to see Evolet again. Along the way, more prophesy rears its ugly head when D’Leh saves a sabertooth tiger and survives. Later in the film, the same animal spares his life again and the skeptical African tribes believe his is the “man who could talk to the spirits.”
By the time he walks across the desert with no water and survives its clear that Emmerich is not going to let basic common sense stop him from telling his story. Whether freeing the slaves, talking to animals, slaying “the almighty” and overseeing his friend rising from the dead, D’Leh is a one-stop hero for the ages. Maybe all of these elements would have worked if Emmerich was making a sci-fi/fantasy film, but the only thing this hodgepodge of elements does is to illustrate that bigger definitely is not always better.
While Emmerich’s early films were big-budget spectacles that worked on some levels, “10,000 B.C.” doesn’t even meet that threshold. This film that borrows elements from “Pathfinder” and “Apocolypto” shows again that there may be something gained by taking a look back but this film will not help you get there.