Unless there’s a new James Toback film waiting in the wings, we might not read a piece of film criticism this year as scathing as the review handed out to “10,000 B.C.” by the Baltimore Sun’s Michael Scragow :
10,000 B.C. may take place in the moviemakers’ fanciful vision of life 10,000 years before Christ, but after you see it, the “B.C.” seems to stand for “Before Cinema.” It’s as if all the digital tools of new millennial filmmaking fell into the hands of men who had less storytelling sense than a campfire bard or a cave painter.
The director, Roland Emmerich, has made such pop hits as Independence Day, but he co-wrote this one with the film’s composer, Harald Kloser, instead of his usual partners, and from beginning to end it’s a succession of bad notes. It follows the rise of a prehistoric hero, named D’Leh (sounds like “delay”), who grows up in a tribe of woolly mammoth hunters, and is stigmatized because his master-hunter father appeared to have abandoned his people in hard times.
The new holder of the White Spear, Tic’Tic (Cliff Curtis), tries to squelch that tale, but can’t stop teen bullies from sneering at D’Leh as the son of a coward. I don’t think there’s ever been an epic with more unfortunate names for its heroes. Unless you’re enthralled by the sight of mammoth herds and fearsome prehistoric emus and a spear-toothed tiger that responds to human kindness, all given that real yet unreal CGI glow, you hear the clock Tic’Ticing in your head and pray for a conclusion without delay or D’Leh.