“10,000 B.C.” – Susan Granger reviews

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Evoking memories of “One Million Years B.C.,” “Quest for Fire,” “Clan of the Cave Bear,” “Apocalypto” and the grand spectacles staged by early sci-fi maven Ray Harryhausen, this is an action adventure set in a prehistoric world.

The story begins on a vast frozen tundra where the Yagahl tribe of dreadlock’d hunters pursues woolly mammoths. Their spiritual leader, Old Mother (Mona Hammond) predicts an ominous future, heralded by the arrival of a blue-eyed orphan girl, Evolet (Camilla Belle), and her subsequent capture – during a devastating raid of their tiny village – by ‘four-legged demons’ (slave traders on horseback).

Determined to rescue Evolet and the others who have been taken captive, a hunky, love-smitten, outcast hunter, D’Leh (Steven Strait), takes off in pursuit, accompanied by his aging mentor, Tic Tic (Cliff Curtis), and a young boy, Baku (Nathaniel Baring). They trek over snowy mountains, sneak through a verdant valley filled with gigantic, clucking ostrich-like creatures, make friends with a saber tooth tiger and slog over sand dunes in a vast desert. Along the way, they encounter other bizarrely-costumed tribes that have been devastated by abductions by the slavers and, eventually, assemble a nomadic army. Under D’Leh’s leadership, they follow the North Star and eventually discover a barbaric, pyramid-building civilization, where a climactic battle takes place.

Satisfied with a banal plot, touching only vaguely on paleoanthropology, minimalist dialogue, delivered in stilted English, and rudimentary characterizations, writer/director Roland Emmerich (“Independence Day,” “Godzilla,” “The Day After Tomorrow”) and co-writer/composer Harald Kloser rely on state-of-the-art computer technology and multiracial casting – and, unfortunately, Camilla Belle is no Raquel Welch.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “10,000 B.C.” is a formulaic 5. It’s a guilty pleasure for those who enjoy watching stampeding herds of mastodons.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.