I wanted to enjoy this movie in some simplistic way. More or less a fantasy movie about the time before recorded history as tribal man roamed the earth, forming the basic elements of future societies, it looked to be stupid, illogical, and ahistorical fun from the same guy that brought you the stupid, illogical, and ahistorical The Day After Tomorrow and The Patriot.
A second-rate Michael Bay, riding a series of 90's big-budget action extravaganzas to a big name and continuing career, Roland Emmerich makes big, dumb action movies, usually strung around some gimmick like a global climate catastrophe, the American Revolution, or an alien invasion. He's not the sharpest knife in the drawer and, though some people love his fairly brainless fare, he's nothing special in the way of direction, relying heavily on his effects to carry the day. This film is no different from Emmerich's usual fare, but lacks much of the fun that usually comes with it.
Stripped of all need for reason, fancy plots, or gimmicks to tell a story of a tribe of mammoth-hunters, 10,000 BC should have provided ample room to create an adeventurous fantasy tale about dreadlocked hunter-gatherers, but instead was a tepid boy-loses-girl adventure where people are chasing people for over two hours. And really there isn't much in those two hours that's all that interesting or impressive.
It's indicative of the movie in general that the sabre-toothed tiger appearing in trailers, TV spots, and the very DVD cover itself is in the movie for 2 to 3 minutes out of over two hours of material. The mammoths, while setting up the clan and lending some basis to the traits of the characters, aren't in it much more than that. Realistically, the tale could have just as easily been told in a fantasy world or with African tribes nearly anytime over the past several millenia. Though I don't always agree with the principle, there's the idea that if a story can be told without being in a sci-fi, fantasy, or period setting, then it probably should be. In movies, as opposed to novels, this becomes a matter of set dressing and aesthetics and, therefore, it probably matters less than in literature. But that idea kept occuring to me as I watched what, more or less, felt like the Tim Burton's Planet Of The Apes equivalent of a Beastmaster remake, minus the beasts. Because when you've got ancient prophecies, magic, people fighting with spears and swords, and god-kings from Atlantis ruling over a bunch of savages, you might as well drop the bullshit idea that this movie takes place in prehistory and just make a fantasy film that's interesting.
Though it tries hard and looks decent, the whole thing seems to trudge toward a flat ending. And no amount of muddied-up young stars will make that any better.