Directed by: Roland Emmerich
Premise: An epic that follows a young tribesman (Steven Strait) on a transcontinental journey to rescue his love (Camilla Belle) from slavery under an Egyptian pharaoh.
What Works: The visuals in the film are mostly effective and director Emmerich shows his talent for large-scale vision.
What Doesn’t: 10,000 B.C. aspires to be a film of ideas but it’s really a B-movie on an A-movie budget. Everything about the film is underwhelming. Character development is nonexistent, the dialogue is inane, the romance is stock, and the action sequences are sloppy and unimpressive. The picture has scope but as the hero journeys across it, he learns absolutely nothing about himself or about the world. The film has really no antagonist; the Egyptians do not really do anything on screen and the Pharaoh is kept underneath a veil for the whole picture. The story has no sense of pacing either within scenes or across the narrative, with emotional and plot beats hit grotesquely on the nose. The picture tries for big ideas in the end but it’s too little, too late and the attempt to end on a big message is disingenuous because nothing is done before the conclusion to work up to that message. The action scenes lack any build up or showmanship; the film just slips into an action sequence here and there and slips out without anything gained. Most bothersome is the understated racism of the film; Africans are portrayed in generic tribal fashion seen on old TV episodes of Tarzan, languishing under oppression, waiting for the white guy from the mountains to free them.
Bottom Line: 10,000 B.C. is really just a retread of themes and scenarios done better in Conan the Barbarian and Stargate. It’s a stupid movie that does not manage success even as popcorn entertainment.
Episode: #181 (March 9, 2008)