Directed by: Roland Emmerich
Starring: Steven Strait, Camilla Belle, Cliff Curtis, Joel Virgel, Mona Hammond
You may have seen worse movies than 10,000 B.C., but you’ll have to work hard to find a dumber one. Even for a Roland Emmerich picture, this sets new standards for stupidity. This is like Uwe Boll with a budget. This is the village idiot of movies. No sooner had the end credits started to roll than my colleague Justin Souther remarked, “It’s hard to believe that was written by adults”—at which point, small children everywhere doubtless took umbrage over his implicit defamation of their intellect and are even now marching toward his house with torches ablaze.
Without seeing the movie—an undertaking I strongly advise against—it’s probably hard to imagine the aggregate asininity amassed therein. A rundown of the “plot” will perhaps convey some small sense of the thing. You see, there’s this tribe of scruffy, dreadlocked Ice Age folks who live inside a disused woolly mammoth skeleton (presumably they ate the rest at the annual mammoth pickin’) on some inhospitable patch of ground to which they are mystifyingly attached. It all has to do with some prophecy that a singularly filthy shaman named something like Big Mama or Old Mother (Mona Hammond, Kinky Boots) talks about—in English, no less, but with an accent so we know these are ancient people (ancient people with really good dental care and razors).
The prophecy involves the tribe’s outcast, D’Leh (Steven Strait), who is destined for God knows what. You may or may not remember Mr. Strait from The Covenant (2006)—the cute-boys-with-magical-powers “thriller.” I confess I didn’t (the matted hair, furs and grime perhaps got in the way). I had to look him up on the IMDb where I learned—according to his biography—that “acting didn’t come naturally” to Strait, a fact he insists on evidencing in nearly every scene of 10,000 B.C..
Anyway, after he inadvertently becomes a hero in the yearly CGI mammoth hunt, it looks like life is on the upswing for D’Leh. He’s presented with the white spear by tribal leader Tic ‘Tic (Cliff Curtis, Sunshine) and is all set to marry the tribe honey, Evolet (Camilla Belle, When a Stranger Calls), when he has a crise de conscience concerning his faux bravery. Before this can get worked out, slave traders show up and kidnap a goodly chunk of the tribe, including—wouldn’t you know it—Evolet. Well, there’s nothing for it, but for D’Leh, Tic ‘Tic, some other befurred ruffian and the requisite hero-worshipping kid (think Indiana Jones’ Short-Round in smelly animal skins) to set off in rescue-party mode.
As luck would have it, Australia (to judge by the flora) is just on the other side of the mountain (must be continental drift), and our heroes very nearly effect their rescue—only to be thwarted by voracious (but incredibly inept), dopey-looking CGI ostriches. Following a rip-off of Androcles and the Lion—with D’Leh as Androcles and the worst CGI saber-toothed tiger imaginable as the lion—we find ourselves on what appear to be the still-standing sets where Bing and Bob met up with cannibals in Road to Zanzibar in 1941. Things look bleak for our heroes when the natives show up. However, the cartoon feline chooses this moment to wander back into the action and not eat D’Leh in recognition of his earlier kindness to the critter (why he doesn’t eat someone else, I don’t know), thereby fulfilling some prophecy or other and establishing D’Leh as some long-awaited savior.
Tribal leader Nakudu (Joel Virgel, The Flintstones on Viva Rock Vegas) calls in a bunch of other colorful tribes to make war on the slave traders (and no, I don’t know how he contacted them). In spite of this, Tic ‘Tic is killed (I really think he wandered off, changed his last name, and founded a breath-mint empire). Then the bad guys sail away down a river. Ah, but D’Leh figures out how to make it through the desert by following a star, a star burning in the night. And what do you suppose they find? No, not the little town of Bethlehem. That would just be silly—besides there’s no evidence that these boys are packing frankincense and myrrh, let alone any gold. Instead, they find Egypt where—some 7,300 years before old King Zoser had the first step-pyramid built—woolly mammoths and assorted kidnapped tribesmen (this is apparently before the discovery of Jews) are helping to construct what appear to be the Giza pyramids. Like any forward-thinking caveman, D’Leh forthrightly asserts, “Let my mammoths go.”
There’s more requisite heroic nonsense and prophecy—including a blind guy the slaves keep in a hole in the ground so they can haul him up to advance the plot—complete with stampeding-mammoth action, but you should get the idea by now. And if that’s not enough, Omar Sharif narrates it all in case we can’t follow the story. If only he’d tossed in a “Play no trump, your lead,” or some other bridge tips, I might’ve bought it. But he didn’t, and therefore I didn’t. So there. Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense action and violence.