10,000 spe­cial ef­fects

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Film Reviews - MICHAEL DWYER

10,000 BC Di­rected by Roland Em­merich. Star­ring Steven Strait, Camilla Belle, Cliff Cur­tis, Joel Virgel, Mo Zi­nal, Mona Ham­mond 12A cert, gen re­lease, 108 min

SIZE mat­ters, went the pub­lic­ity slo­gan for Ger­man di­rec­tor Roland Em­merich’s inane, lav­ishly ef­fect­sladen 1998 re­make of Godzilla. The for­mula for Em­merich’s movies, which in­clude In­de­pen­dence Day and The Day Af­ter To­mor­row, has been scale over sub­stance, and never more so than in 10,000 BC, which could have been re-ti­tled 10,000 Spe­cial Ef­fects.

Draw­ing from a trite, clicherid­dled screen­play Em­merich de­vised with the movie’s com­poser, Har­ald Kloser, this lum­ber­ing saga in­tro­duces its hero D’Leh (Steven Strait) as a young hunter from the an­cient Ya­gahl moun­tain tribe. They speak in vaguely east Euro­pean ac­cents. Their hair is mat­ted in dread­locks. They have per­fect, gleam­ing white teeth. And their fa­cial make-up re­sem­bles Tipp-ex streaked with tomato ketchup.

The Ya­gahls are at­tacked by “four-legged demons” (slave raiders on horse­back), who abduct the love of D’Leh’s life, win­some or­phan Ev­o­let (Camilla Belle), and he leads a small team to save her. How­ever, Ev­o­let proves to be the most peril-prone screen hero­ine since Elisha Cuth­bert played Jack Bauer’s daugh­ter in the TV se­ries 24.

Em­brac­ing the multi-cul­tural world of that by­gone era, the Ya­gahls meet other tribes along the way, build­ing a small, racially in­te­grated army to op­pose the slave raiders. In be­tween di­a­logue ex­changes of mum­bo­jumbo, they en­counter many CGI crea­tures, from a herd of mam­moths to birds that look like gi­ant turkeys to an enor­mous sabre-tooth tiger that bonds with the car­ing D’Leh.

Back in the 1960s, when Ham­mer Films branched out from hor­ror movies into this genre with cheesy ef­forts such as One Mil­lion Years BC and When Di­nosaurs Ruled the Earth, the rai­son d’etre was to dress the cast in the skimp­i­est of cos­tumes.

It’s hard to un­der­stand what mo­ti­vated Em­merich to em­bark on a project as thinly scripted and numb­ingly pre­dictable as 10,000 BC. The ac­tors are self-con­scious, the ex­tras look quite mis­er­able, and the film is sad­dled with a ba­nal, por­ten­tous nar­ra­tion de­liv­ered by Omar Sharif. He sounds as bored as I felt watch­ing this yawn-in­duc­ing yarn.

Come back, Raquel Welch, all is for­given: Steven Strait in 10,000 BC

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