10,000 B.C.

When he’s not making big-budget, empty-headed blockbusters I have no idea where Roland Emmerich’s movie watching tastes lay. But I can think of at least five movies which I know he’s seen, since his new movie 10,000 B.C. takes them, grinds them up into a paste, and spreads them liberally across the screen. Emmerich’s script is a rehash of Apocalypto, with a dash of The Ten Commandments and 300 thrown in. His production design borrows liberally from Lord of the Rings, and his villains were lifted straight out of Stargate and plopped down in the middle of a brand new desert. All five of those movies are good on their own, but when they’re ripped off by Emmerich in one sprawling epic; the result is a tedious bore in which grubby people stand around muttering in a variety of badly chosen accents.

It starts with a primitive mountain village where generation after generation has subsisted by hunting the great mammock. The great mammock looks a lot like a wooly mammoth, I guess 10,000 years ago they hadn’t invented the “th” sound yet. Luckily, they have invented the rest of the English language and so our caveman characters speak in lovely, strangely accented American. There’s a lot of prophecy mumbo jumbo at the outset, which feels as if it drags on for at least the length of the Mesozoic age, until finally we get to the story. Strange men on horses kidnap half the village and run off with them. The three remaining hunters set off on foot to save their kidnapped friends, and along the way encounter mud and vicious proto-Egyptians.

D’Leh (Steven Strait) is our hero, a glassy-eyed primitive from a race of people with an affinity for not bathing and wearing bad Rasta-wigs. I saw no sign of the herb, but if they were smoking it, that might help explain the movie’s downright lethargic, disinterested pace. D’Leh drifts across the countryside in pursuit of his girlfriend and his people, and whenever there’s a problem the movie invents another random prophecy spouted by an aged oracle to solve whatever corner the plot has managed to paint itself into. At one point they quite literally dig a wise man up out of the ground to give the movie its next, much needed MacGuffin.

I will say one thing for 10,000 B.C.: the special effects aren’t as bad as they look in the trailer. Or maybe I simply didn’t notice them, since almost all of the movie’s big special effects are actually in the trailer. If you’ve watched any advertisements for the film, you’ve already seen nearly all of the excitement it has in its bag of tricks. Between the ten seconds of running mammoths and growling saber-toothed tigers 10,000 B.C. has nothing to offer but a lot of wandering around in the mud and guys thrusting spears into things off camera. Well maybe that’s not quite fair. There is a scene in the middle where everyone plays Honey I Shrunk the Kid as they run around in the midst of oversized blades of grass being eaten by giant, squawking turkey vultures. But other than that it’s a lot of half naked, grungy Rastafarian primitives standing around holding spears and trying to figure out which prophesy to follow next. Here’s a prophecy for you: You’ll hate this movie. See something else.

Josh Tyler