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10,000 B.C.

Ten Millenia Away From Being A Great Film...

The first summer blockbuster (yes, itís a few months premature) hits the screens this week with the knuckledragging, mastodon hunting, prehistoric epic 10,000 B.C. This one fastidiously checks off every requisite item on the summer blockbuster list. Giant mastodons, saber-toothed tigers, vicious velociraptor-like birds, amazing action sequences, and some great CGI form the foundation of 10,000 B.C. Unfortunately, all of these things don't necessarily add up to a great film.

10,000 B.C. starts amidst a small tribe of ragtag, mastodon hunters living a marginal existence near the peak of a mountain range. Why they don't migrate to a more hospitable climate where itís less cold, the air isnít quite so thin, and thereís more food is a question youíre bound to ask. Granted, one could rationalize that this tribe is comprised of troglodytes and they simply donít have the brain power to figure this out. But, whatís confusing is these are some of the most eloquent cavemen (and women) Iíve ever seen. Rather than rely on grunts and weird noises, they speak full English!

At any rate, the mastodon market is in recession and the tribe is starving. Something has to change in order for these missing links to survive. "Old Mother" (the resident witch whose visions make up for the lazy writing of the screenplay) has foretold the arrival of the "four legged demons". Soon enough, astride the four legged demons (aka - horses), warlords arrive and destroy the village and enslave virtually everyone with the exception of a handful of men including our hero, DíLeh (Steven Strait).

DíLeh and his co-horts embark on an impossible mission (shocking) to free their enslaved people from the warlords and more specifically DíLehís love, Evolet (Camilla Belle). SomehowÖwith no water, no food, no clothing, and a variety of prehistoric predators on the loose, DíLeh and his crew manage to traverse seemingly thousands of miles in their pursuit of the warlords. It makes for a GREAT campfire story, but not a film in which one can suspend disbelief. These clowns should have died in the first 48 hours.

But, the problems donít end there. While certainly it is manly, sexy, and visually amazing to watch this tribe hunt mastodons, itís inordinately difficult to actually kill a mastodon. It's very hard to believe that there were NO other animals (or fruits/vegetables for that matter) in the vicinity of this tribe that would have been at least marginally easier to bring down. Deer? Elk? Moose? Birds? Rabbits? This tribe wasnít starving because of a lack of food; they were starving because they were dumbÖand yet somehow these knuckleheads can speak more eloquently than your average Ivy League graduate!

DíLeh and the tribeís inherent stupidity make it challenging to root for them. Not that one wants to see the warlords rape, pillage, and plunder, but a tribe that only knows how to hunt mastodons probably shouldnít survive. Director/screenwriter Roland Emmerich piles up one unbelievable conceit after another until everything collapses in a mass of prehistoric absurdity. Last, but not least Emmerich foolishly includes an obnoxious voiceover from Omar Shariff that is completely distracting. The film just isnít that complicated, the additional handholding isnít necessary and doesnít add anything.

10,000 B.C. is saved from being the worst film of the year by the fantastic CGI, great action set pieces, and some good cinematography. The scenes of the mastodon hunts are truly striking. Additionally, later in the film we get a wonderfully tense sequence where odd, pre-historic bird-like creatures feverishly peck the hell out of our mentally challenged hunters. There is also a pretty well-rendered scene involving a terrifying saber-tooth tiger.

However, Emmerich swung for the fences with this prehistoric epic and struck out gloriously. 10,000 B.C. is all style and no substance. The film shamelessly amalgamates Braveheart, Gladiator, Quest for Fire, Ben Hur, and just above every other film that strives for "epic" status. What ultimately results is an epic disappointment.

Rating: 1 out of 5 stars