A prehistoric Last Of The Mohicans, right down to aping some of the iconic visuals from the 1996 film, 10,000 B.C. tells the story of a young hunter named D’Leh (Steven Strait) who crosses frozen mountains and blistering deserts to rescue members of his village, including Evolet (Camilla Belle) the woman he loves, from slavers who are taking them to build the pyramids in Egypt. Along the way he fights off giant killer ostriches, befriends a saber-tooth tiger, raises an army and invents celestial navigation.
Science was never the strong suit of any of director Roland Emmerich’s films. Remember how the alien’s computers in Independence Day were Macintosh compatible? But here, he gives us a travelogue through a mulligan stew of historical hodgepodge, teaming wooly mammoths, which died out 2,000 years before the film’s titular setting with the construction of the pyramids a mere 70 centuries early.
If this mishmash had resulted in a film that was at least entertaining, it would forgivable. That’s just not the case though. The bursts of action are infrequent and interspersed with long stretches of D’Leh and his party’s trek across a variety of landscapes. Emmerich clearly seems to be taking a page from Peter Jackson’s Lord Of The Rings playbook. While it does tend to give the film an epic feel, theirs is no emotional core to support it. The film doesn’t really make us care about any of the characters. Tied into the story of D’Leh – which happens to be the word hero spelled backwards in director Emmerich’s native German language – is a prophecy from the village’s Old Woman, which basically spells out the film’s plot right from the beginning, ruining any anticipation that the film might try to build as to how D’Leh will rescue Evolet and the others.
Audaciously, Emmerich has a character describe the shrouded figure in charge of the building of the pyramids- “Some say [he] came from the stars. Others say [he] flew across the water when [his] land sank into the sea.” Is Emmerich trying to turn the film into a pseudo-prequel to his 1994 film Stargate, where the pyramids were indeed built by aliens? In the end, though it doesn’t matter. We can just chalk it up as another element tossed into this mess of a film that ultimately doesn’t add up to the sum of its parts.