10,000 B.C.
Can you spot the item that doesn’t belong? Look closer … just kidding, it’s her.

Theatrical Release Date: 03/07/2008
Director: Roland Emmerich
Cast: Steven Strait, Camilla Belle, Cliff Curtis

12,000 years ago … this film didn’t happen.

We’ll look at some of the issues that seem a bit wonky in a bit, but for now allow me to set up the latest sci-fi epic from the fertile mind of Roland Emmerich – the man seemingly behind most of the big budget sci-fi films for over the last decade with films like “Independence Day”, “Godzilla”, “The Day After Tomorrow”, “Universal Soldier” and “Stargate”.

I mention “Stargate” last because “10,000 B.C.” is basically a different version of that film. It’s as if there was a meeting between Emmerich and a roomful of monkeys with typewriters where he asked them to take the idea of a self-proclaimed God subjugating entire tribes to build a pyramid on a foreign planet and said, “What if they did it on Earth, and instead of traveling through space, they just walk there? Make sure to also have the good guys speak English and the bad guys get the subtitled treatment. And don’t forget to shroud the face of the tyrannical almighty ruler and give him the same “Stargate” voice-filter.”

Voila! “10,000 B.C.” was born.

The dude (no insult to Jeff Bridges intended) playing the lead in “Stargate: 10,000 B.C.” is the one and only Warren Peace from “Sky High” … or if you prefer, Caleb from “The Covenant” … who’s laughing now?!?! Oh, wait … that would be everyone …

Playing his mentor is Cliff Curtis, who as a New Zealand native, probably agreed to co-star in the film because they were filming while he was home for the holidays. I think he’s a really underrated actor and I generally like his film choices … but to play a character named Tic’Tic? It’s like actors have to pay rent or something … weird.

Perhaps the actor I’m most disappointed in is Camilla Belle. She’s shown some actual acting talent in films like “The Ballad of Jack and Rose” and even “The Quiet” (for all that film is worth). Apparently, she’s more interested in a payday than taking on challenging roles with substance. While I can understand that (and will do nearly anything for money myself), it’s still a little sad to see potential wasted.

Moving onto the film, of course it all begins with a prophecy from an old shaman woman. A peaceful tribe of hunter-gatherers is to be torn asunder by four-legged demons (horses, to the layman) after their last hunt of the great woolly mammoth. By sheer coincidence, the actor with highest billing is “the one” (suck it, Neo) and it’s up to him to overthrow the faux-deity.

Along the way, he’ll battle ostrich-like creatures who have the same trainer as Barry Bonds, befriend a sabretooth tiger and figure out that the north star remains in the same place in the sky (essentially, don’t go all astronomer and use science to explain how this isn’t completely accurate).

The fantasy/sci-fi elements aside, perhaps even more unbelievable are some of the less flashy elements in the film. First off, woolly mammoths are ginormous. How the evil empire was able not only to domesticate dozens of them but also file down their massive tusks to nicely uniform nubs is beyond me.

And their boats are so beautiful and perfectly crafted, it boggles the mind. I somehow doubt peoples of this time period could not only fashion such beautiful bright red sails (and really, they’re gorgeous), but each sail is identical to the next … I missed that section of pre-historic textile manufacturing in history class. Chalk it up to the power of the PC, I suppose.

Then there’s the sabretooth tiger. After our “hero” stupidly frees the beast (openly hoping he doesn’t get eaten), the tiger gives him a quick sniff and then rushes off into the night. The next day, when a tribe of warriors have our would-be messiah surrounded, the tiger returns to keep them at bay.

Look, I’ll go ahead and play along that a wild tiger in a desert (don’t think about that part, it’ll hurt) might decide to become protective of the person that frees it from danger. But once the tiger shows the tribe that his charge isn’t to be killed, it runs off … never to be seen again. What? You bother to set this angle up and never bring back the tiger? To coin a phrase: Boo!

Last on my essentially extemporaneous hit list is the B.C. dental plan. Not only do people tend to have all their teeth, they are pearly white and seem to have good orthodontists on call. Really? You bother to make sure everyone’s hair and body hygiene seems period believable but you fall into Matt Damon’s “Saving Private Ryan” trap? Great.

I’m subtracting 9,998 and giving “10,000 B.C.” a 2 out of 5. This CGI-filled march across snowy mountains, tropical forests and sandy deserts speaks to the lowest common denominator, even throwing in a horrendously done quasi-miracle at the end … all of which sadly means it will probably make its money back once it finishes a worldwide release.

However, unless you’re in need of some time to put your brain on standby – go out and find another film to plop that hard-earned cash down on. Maybe instead, if you’d rather watch a good sci-fi film starring Cliff Curtis, try renting “Sunshine“. Even if you don’t like it as much as I did, it’ll still save you a few bucks, and the only cell phone that rings during the film will be yours.