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10,000 B.C.

Master of disaster Roland Emmerich's lumbering ahistorical farce 10,000 B.C. is just Apocalypto redux. If you thought Godzilla was bad...


Dateline: 10,000 B.C. The day of the last hunt has arrived. Oh, dear. If an ancient prophecy holds true, a remote mountain tribe's quiet existence is hours away from coming to a bloody end. Not that it matters to a hunting party comprised of mud-splattered Abercrombie & Fitch himbos--nothing's going to come between them and a hot plate of woolly mammoth meat. But no sooner is dinner over than "four-legged demons" attack. Actually, they're just slave traders on horseback, but they quickly make off with plenty of women and children, including Evolet (Camilla Belle). This "girl with the blue eyes" just so happens to possess the tribe's "promise of life"--whatever that is. Enter D'Leh (Steven Strait). Our would-be He-Man loves Evolet, so he organizes a rescue mission with the help of tribe elder Tic'Tic (Cliff Curtis). Their destination is a place unlike anything they have seen before (because they didn't see Apocalypto): a city with pyramids built by slaves and ruled by a purported god, the evil Almighty. First, though, our heroes must make it there alive--which is easier said than done when there are hungry (and poorly computer-generated) saber-toothed tigers on the prowl.


Forget about Belle replacing Raquel Welch as the prehistoric playmate of your dreams. It's my sad duty to report that are we denied the pleasure of seeing Belle strike some sexy poses in an animal-skin bikini straight out of One Million Years B.C. But it's nice to know that even in the Mesolithic period, our dreadlocked damsel in distress has access to the spa services needed for her to pass as the well-scrubbed face of a Vera Wang perfume campaign. Everyone else, though, needs a hosing down. Besides keeping herself clean and healthy, Belle's only other responsibility is to give the occasional hard stare that emphasizes Evolet's piercing blue eyes, which she does with aplomb. The Covenant's Strait may have the beefcake physique of a warrior, but he doesn't possess any noble qualities. He's more dolt than D'Leh, natural born leader. Just listen to the sleepy Strait's morale-boosting Independence Day-ish speech and you're be inspired to fall on your own spear. Live Free or Die Hard's Curtis can barely contain his embarrassment at having to fight at Strait's side. 10,000 B.C. doesn't boast a villain worthy of our hisses, but Affiff Ben Nadra and Marco Khan at least project some menace as at-odds slave traders.


"Only time can teach us what is truth and what is legend," intones narrator Omar Sharif with all the pomposity of Seinfeld's J. Peterman. Fine, but 10,000 B.C. is hardly the stuff of legends. There are too many problems with this serious-minded but fantastical prehistoric romp to enjoy it on its own terms or as an unintentional exercise in pure camp. Forcing the cast to speak with grating generic European accents makes the inane dialogue harder on the ears. The plot borrows too liberally from Apocalypto. Even when Emmerich stops treading on Mel Gibson's toes, 10,000 B.C. also comes across as a de facto prequel to Stargate, what with its antagonist being a pyramid-obsessed supreme being. You even brace yourself for the Almighty to reveal himself to be Jaye Davidson. All could be forgivable if Emmerich delivered on the action. He doesn't. A woolly mammoth stampede proves to be inferior to similar scenes in Jurassic Park and King Kong. A phorusrhacid attack provokes laughter because it looks like our heroes are fleeing from a pissed-off Big Bird. The climatic revolt ends as soon as it begins. No one demands much from Emmerich. Just pure spectacle. So why does 10,000 B.C. feel no bigger than a natural history museum mini-diorama?

Bottom Line rated this film 1/2 star.