10,000 BC Movie Review

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Following his tinkering around with imagined apocalyptic forces in the sci-fi worlds of Independence Day and The Day After Tomorrow, director Roland Emmerich heads back way beyond the day before tomorrow, with the prehistoric tribal warfare epic, 10,000 BC. This typical all action and little talk anthropological blockbuster dressed to the nines in caveman chic fashion statements, is a basically far too self-serious Neanderthals gone wild outing, as they cross time zones on foot faster than high speed Internet.

Steven Strait is D’Leh – possibly named for his indecisive tendencies, who knows – a shunned coward, aspiring mammoth chaser, and subsequent accidental hero who is mistakenly hailed for the unheard of feat of killing a dreaded woolly mammoth. It seems that D’Leh just happened to get caught in a net and dragged along with the fearsome beast, on the way to the creature’s expiration date. But D’Leh accepts credit anyway, a few guilt pangs notwithstanding, along with his related entitlement to the best tribal white spear and the most desired local woman, Evolet (Camilla Belle).

But when an alien horde speaking in subtitles and dubbed the four legged demons arrives on horseback from over the mountains, they kidnap Evolet and others to trade as slaves. No Fred Flinstone he, D’Leh assembles some horse-deprived literal foot soldiers, and sets out over the unexplored snowy peaks, without seeming to stop for a meal. But not before the resident matriarch, Old Mother, in a primitive era when kisses may not have been invented yet, spits them goodby, I kid you not.

Sporting unusually fashionable dreadlocks and little else, the ready to rumble, scantily clad prehistoric homo sapiens glide around the planet through blizzards and torrid jungles, dodging seemingly nearsighted menacing dinosaurs and reptiles with bad manners, whose oversized choppers repeatedly miss their mark. Following a trail of necklaces dropped not discreetly enough by the captive, intended sex slave Evolet, they pick up some African warriors along the way. Eventually they arrive at the ornate desert empire presided over by an evil head honcho decked out in a burka, while enslaved brutalized multitudes toil away building a bunch of pyramids.

Though the palace guards look like really mean recruits from the WWE, with untrimmed foot long fingernails, an overload of testosterone and itching for a smackdown, D’Leh organizes a slave rebellion and kicks butt in a flash with a little help from a mammoth stampede, decking the lot of ’em. While all of the above may sound extremely serious, it’s really quite funny, when not tedious. And with a nudging soundtrack that strains to demand unearned audience emotions and sympathy, while the film engages in substituting noise for decisive drama.

Try as they may, the humans and their spears here don’t hold a candle to those hairy beasts, however digitalized. In other words, if forgoing this experience in hindsight were an option, I’d say just spear me.

Prairie Miller is a New York multimedia journalist online, in print and radio, who reviews movies and conducts in-depth interviews. She can also be heard on WBAI/Pacifica National Radio Network’s Arts Express.