In nerd terms (RIP, Gary Gygax), director Roland Emmerich wields a +5 vorpal sword against my critical abilities.
The Day After Tomorrow sucks, you say? Well yes, but perhaps you're forgetting how there was snow everywhere. And the wolves ran on top of the snow. And the people died if they were caught in the really cold parts of the storm! Yet somehow -- perhaps because it was in many ways it was made entirely from garbage -- everyone else thought that movie was a heaping pile of trash
There could barely be a bigger piece of me-kryptonite than Emmerich doing a movie about cavemen. The only way that could be better is if the cavemen were battling an alien race of robots with a design vulnerability to blow darts. Even then, it would be a close call.
In 10,000 B.C., blue-eyed Camilla Belle is taken in by a struggling clan. It's prophesied that whoever among the hunters kills a mammoth will be the one to claim her (feminism wouldn't be invented for another 11,960 years). By a stroke of luck, clan chump Steven Strait single-handedly kills a mammoth and is to be promoted to stud among men.
Top hunter Cliff Curtis knows Strait doesn't deserve the acclaim, though, and shames him into declining his new status. The chance for redemption arises when a band of horsemen rides into the village, killing many and kidnapping others, including Belle. With their numbers depleted, Strait, Curtis, and a handful of companions head out from their mountain home to try to rescue the lost members of their tribe.
The general consensus is director/co-writer Emmerich hacks like a machete, but you know what he does really well? Builds worlds. His characters might be doofy and forgettable, but his environments aren't, and he gets a lot of mileage out of all the strange places CAVEMAN passes through on his pursuit of silly prophecies and hot chicks.
Emmerich's pretty good on the action front, too. Kind of like a poor man's Peter Jackson, though without the sense of humor. Maybe that bumps him down to a rag-wearing Peter Jackson, but since Jackson does wear rags and even if he was very poor he could still pay each and every one of us $1,000 to eat a live cricket, I think Emmerich is still coming out OK in this equation.
He's less OK in the story department. An unnecessary narrator adds nothing but an insult to our intelligence -- yeah, it's real hard to keep tabs on a plot as complicated as one group of guys chasing after another group of guys -- and as for all the prophecies and mysticism flying around, they're just a distraction.
A distraction from the giant man-eating birds and man-trampling mammoths that are the real stars of 10,000 B.C., that is, which raises the question of how much brain damage you're willing to let a movie inflict on you in exchange for good CG and a world that's compelling despite often being as shallow as the pool of drool on the theater floor after a herd of trumpeting carpet-covered elephants wrecks up everything in sight. Ankle-deep, in other words.
One of the many great things about The Bourne Ultimatum is it reminded us action movies don't have to be stupid. The part where he beats the guy's ass with a book was pretty sweet, too.
10,000 B.C. is not bright. The real wonder is that it has a script at all, given that its writers clearly don't understand such sorcery as how to make fire, let alone the written alphabet. (Their idea of realism is to make people who live in the snowy snowy mountains refer to snow as the "white rain." No word on whether they refer to rain as "that see-through snow that's much wetter than normal.") What it's got is imagination, a world you can get lost in, no matter how big and foolish that world may be.