Approaching 10,000 B.C., it's reasonable to wonder if it will turn out to be one of those long-time-ago movies, like The Clan of the Cave Bear or Ringo Starr's Caveman, in which the characters will grunt and growl their way through the entire film. Instead, it proves to be one chatty affair, with the majority of the players (the heroes, anyway) communicating via perfectly enunciated English. There would be no harm, no foul in this approach if these folks had anything worth saying, but 10,000 B.C. turns out to be so crammed with dull and insipid dialogue that it's a shame theater auditoriums don't come equipped with "mute" buttons next to the seat cup holders.
Only the numerically challenged would think that this had anything to do with 1940's One Million B.C., with caveman Victor Mature battling prehistoric creatures, or One Million Years B.C., the 1966 remake that made a superstar out of Raquel Welch (both in the cinema and, thanks to the film's top-selling cheesecake poster, in boys' bedrooms across the land). Those pictures at least treated audiences to dinosaurs; the stamp date on this one limits us to lumbering mammoths, a few deformed Big Birds, and a saber-toothed tiger that turns out to be as threatening as Bambi.
Playing like a cross between Mel Gibson's Apocalypto and the fanboy fave 300, this empty-headed spectacle from Stargate director Roland Emmerich centers on a young man who, when it comes to heroes leading their people out of the darkness, emerges as a towering figure worthy of standing alongside Moses, William "Braveheart" Wallace and Michael Moore. Steven Strait plays this warrior, whose name is D'Leh (not to be confused with either Republican scumbag Tom DeLay or Homer Simpson's "D'Oh!") and whose bland, pretty-boy countenance makes him a precursor to Malibu Ken. If surfboards had been around back then, you can bet D'Leh would have been out searching for the perfect wave rather than hanging around a dusty village brooding over daddy issues (Pop disappeared when D'Leh was a wee lad, and the rumor goes that he abandoned the tribe in its moment of need).
When he's not busy being tutored by his adoptive father Tic'Tic (Cliff Curtis), D'Leh passes the time by flirting with his one true love, Evolet (blank slate Camilla Belle). Evolet has these piercing blue eyes, but even more noticeable throughout the film is the makeup which surrounds them, and which never gets smeared even after she's been shedding copious tears. Who knew Maybelline existed as far back as 10,000 B.C.? At any rate, Evolet and her mascara kit are snatched, along with dozens of other villagers, by raiders who need more slaves to help them build temples and monuments in their sprawling kingdom many miles away. The film's geographic location is never specified, yet although the marauders appear Egyptian, a monument under construction looks just like the lion statues guarding the entrance of the New York Public Library, thereby conclusively establishing the movie's setting as Midtown Manhattan.
Although they face formidable odds, D'Leh, Tic'Tic, another generic Ken doll (I wouldn't be able to pick him out of a police lineup, let alone the cast list), and a young boy who provides idiotic comic relief (Nathaniel Baring) set out to save their fellow villagers as Omar Sharif provides incessant voice-over narration that's so irrelevant, it makes one wonder if Emmerich and co-writer Harald Kloser were paid by the word. Over the course of the adventure, D'Leh befriends a tribal leader (Joel Virgel), bonds with the cuddly CGI saber-toothed tiger, and takes advice from a sagacious blind man. In the film's most interesting sequence (not saying much, really), the blind man is brought up on a slab from beneath the earth, where he has spent countless years cooped up in cramped quarters with nothing to keep him entertained. After spending two hours in a darkened theater watching 10,000 B.C., I could relate.
To see the trailer for 10,000 B.C., go to www.theclogblog.com.