10,000 B.C. tells the story of a young warrior, D’Leh (pronounced Duh-lay) and a chosen female, Evolet and their tribe, the Egal (spelling). The Egal depend on hunting down Mammoths for their survival, and at the outset, D’Leh is out to take one down and then claim Evolet as his own. After that happens and D’Leh struggles through some personal issues of his own, the tribe is attacked by a group of fearsome warriors who abduct many of them to take them to work as slaves for their masters. D’Leh manages to avoid capture but Evolet is taken, and now D’Leh begin’s his journey to save her and along the way fulfill his destiny.
And with that, you have the premise of 10,000 B.C. the latest film from popcorn filmmaker Roland Emmerich, who at least in my eyes has seemed to suffer with his films since he and former partner Dean Devlin have broken up. That suffering continues with 10,000 B.C., a movie that ultimately proves more boring than anything else.
Sure there’s lots of big sequences and some great visual effects, but it doesn’t work at all when the characters are as dull as they are here and there’s nothing done with them to have any sort of fun with the film. I’ve read how others have problems with the historical inaccuracies in the film and really I could care less about that, if it at least would’ve tried to have been maybe more pulp fiction in its nature.
The Egal talk in the film and speak a broken English, but the way it’s spoken is more right out of a 50s or 60s Italian period epic. There’s nothing wrong with that if you’re watching a 50s or 60s Italian period epic, but this film seems like it’s trying for a higher ideal and as such you expect a little more. Mel Gibson did this quite well with Apocalypto keeping the tribe’s language their own and relying on the audience to read it as subtitles, what Gibson does well with that is at least let his characters have some natural qualities in their delivery. Zach Snyder does the opposite in 300 with all of the characters speaking English, but the language and performances are all so over-the-top that at the very least, they’re a lot of fun to listen to. Here, you halfway expect the language to be peppered with a few “hows” or “ughhs” and while I certainly wouldn’t want them speaking in a contemporary way, there’s still better ways to do it than as stiff as it comes off here.
But the characters themselves are just extremely boring, there’s nothing that seems “lived in” at all about the performances. One actress, Camilla Belle who plays Evolet, just looks entirely out of place even, and while some of that is by design with the nature of the character, it still shouldn’t come off as a Hollywood actress type who’s just scruffed herself up a bit, to me she comes off as a Lohan sister who’s just out of place in the film.
Another thing that both Apocalypto and 300 do right is embrace the pulp nature of their stories and both go way over-the-top with their violence and their attitudes towards their characters. They’re both R-rated films as well, and so certainly have the license to do so. 10,000 B.C. is PG-13 and as such, it seems like Roland Emmerich is trying his best to just not offend anyone, that’s all fine and dandy but it doesn’t really make for an exciting film. This, even being rated PG-13, could’ve done a few things with it’s action to make it a little more savage but just doesn’t even bother.
Omar Shariff does the narration for the film, and what it does is it keeps the viewer detached from the action. Sure, 300 does the same thing, but at least the narration is by one of the film’s actual characters and it does other things that keeps you drawn in. The narration here mainly just sets you up for enduring the events as they take place and does little to actually draw you in.
I think Emmerich’s heart is in the right place for making this, but he really needed others working with him that would at least make this a little more fun to watch, former partner Dean Devlin might’ve done that. As it is, 10,000 B.C. is right on the verge of being that sort of movie that it’s more fun to make fun of as you’re watching it than it is being any sort of adventure that has any sort of emotional resonance, and the final result is a film that’s more boring than anything else.