10,000 special effects
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