10,000 BC (Roland Emmerich, 2008)
Pity mammoth hunter D'Leh (Steven Strait) in 10,000 BC. When he was a boy, his father left for the good of the tribe. Now a young man, dreadlocked D'Leh can't relish his crowning achievement making the kill on the big hunt because it was more or less an accident. Feeling as though he is not worthy of his rewards--the white spear and his longtime crush Evolet (Camilla Belle)--D'Leh returns what he does not believe he has earned.
Another chance arrives for D'Leh to prove his mettle when Evolet is among those taken from the tribe by four-legged demons, which is the prehistoric people's scarier way of describing men on horses. During his epic journey to save his true love from enslavement D'Leh encounters terrifying beasts and slowly builds an army to fight back against a god.
Omar Sharif's grave and too-frequent narration suggests that 10,000 BC is to be taken seriously, but it's hard to avoid laughing when not struggling to stay awake during the countless continent-traversing scenes. Better to show D'Leh and his men walking than having them talk, though. The dialogue can be pretty idiotic even by the standards of pre-civilized mankind's usual film depictions.
The prehistorical inaccuracies are glaring even to this untrained observer. Mammoths as domesticated service animals for transporting materials to build pyramids? Really? Look, no one expects to be educated from a Roland Emmerich film. If he didn't want to put the effort into being true to the era, he should have gone entirely in a fantasy direction. Otherwise the result plays as unintended comedy.
One wonders how Mel Gibson, star of Emmerich's THE PATRIOT, might have been able to improve this material. Emmerich borrows from BRAVEHEART and APOCALYPTO, so such conjecture has a basis in what turns up on screen. 10,000 BC'S director lacks Gibson's visual acumen and anthropological curiosity. Emmerich stages the so-so CGI setpieces and plodding tribal camp scenes with little sense of awe or danger, something Gibson would have instilled in every frame. Even if Gibson weren't behind the camera, the film desperately needs his (or someone's) star power for the hero role. Strait is found lacking in every way.
Technology has made it possible to recreate anything in the movies, but rendering saber-toothed tigers and a bygone time and making it all come alive are not the same thing. With a dreadfully dull story and performances as petrified as 12,000-year-old wooden artifacts, 10,000 BC shambles along as if on a march to its own extinction.