A few people have criticized this film for its glaring historical inaccuracies, but clearly this movie is a fantasy, not unlike its numerical predecessor from Warner Bros, a year ago, 300.
That highly-stylized epic of the Spartans fighting the Persians was not meant to be a docudrama either. It was more of a caricature. Whatever truth in fiction it had was totally eclipsed by the massive amount of compromises for impressive CGI.
10,000 BC does the same, except here, its compromises are without purpose. If the point is to show extinct animals like woolly mammoths and saber-toothed tigers, interacting with cro-magnons around the time those animals went missing, then you'd be better off watching the cartoon Ice Age (2002) or Night at the Museum (2006).
The film tries to be Lord of the Rings (2001) combined with Mel Gibson's Apocalypto (2006), but it never quite rises to the level of those two features. It succeeds only in stealing Gibson's plot and mimicking J.R.R. Tolkien's mythic qualities, but all of it feels forced and misplaced in this movie.
Twenty-one-year-old, model-turned-actor Steven Strait stars as D'Ley, a pre-historic man, part of a mountainous tribe, who wears nothing but furs and long, dark dreadlocks. Despite looking like the forefathers to Jamaicans, his tribe is steeped in Native American-copied culture.
D'Ley participates in a hunting contest with other young men of his tribe to see who will get the white spear and become the tribe's anointed leader. The young guys' competition involves who can take down a stampeding mammoth, or at least hold onto it the longest.
It's a foregone conclusion that D'Ley will win, but what's a surprise is how he does it. According to lore, D'Ley is the son of a coward. No one is really around to witness D'Ley's win, so the question becomes, did D'Ley courageously hang on and slay the mammoth, or was he just lucky.
The beginning of the film is interesting, as it deals with this question, as well as D'Ley's ambiguity over his win. D'Ley contemplates even giving up his win and all the spoils that came with it, including the love of his life. Sadly, the movie doesn't develop this.
Instead, it just wastes time with showing seemingly endless shots of men walking through vast landscapes. They may look beautiful, but in the end, they make the movie ridiculously boring.
The only true exciting moments come when the film delves into a "Welcome to Jurassic Park" sequence. We get pre-historic men running and trying to avoid being eaten by dinosaur-like creatures who pursue them through trees and tall grasses. It's thrilling. It's fun and it's funny.
But everything goes downhill following this sequenc. In a scene that could have been pulled from The Chronicles of Narnia (2005) or The Golden Compass (2007), D'Ley befriends a large, snarling beast. The beast doesn't speak, but it does better acting than Strait. It's odd, but you wonder why it wasn't utilized to better effect.
The ending is so predictable and so Hollywood, and any risks that the filmmaker could have taken are squandered.
Even though the movie is set an epoch ago, I draw comparisons to Star Wars (1977). A lot of the same elements are there. D'Ley is really a Luke Skywalker incarnation, a young man trying to prove himself with absentee fatherly issues who has to rescue a kidnapped woman. D'Ley is Luke in a loincloth.
This film has more in common with science fiction, than its historical fantasy counterparts, which makes the movie kind of jarring. The end sequence, for example, feels like it took place on Tatooine, or Abydos from the film Stargate (1994), which consequently was directed by the same filmmaker, Roland Emmerich.
The constant narration, which touts this hackneyed legend that speaks of prophecies and chosen ones is rhetorical garbage, drags the story, and further bores. The lead actor, Steven Strait, though he may be hunky enough, seems to patterns himself after Tarzan, Russell Crowe's Maximus, or Daniel Day-Lewis' Hawkeye. But man, did he pick a failure here!
Two Stars out of Five.
Rated PG-13 for intense action.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 49 mins.