Director Roland Emmerich's follow-up to 2004's "Day After Tomorrow" is a prehistoric epic that goes light on the script, but comes fully loaded with some superb visual effects work. It should come as no surprise with a big-budget popcorn flick such as this that historians are going to have an issue or two with the way that history is portrayed. While Emmerich seems to think he's trying for something weightier here, it's still as much a mindless blockbuster ride as his other efforts.
The picture opens with a voiceover introducing D'Leh (Steven Strait) and Evolet (Camilla Belle), a young couple who become separated early on - there's initially a conflict in the tribe, but then she's taken by hunters not long afterwards. So, he runs away from the tribe, setting off across the land in order to try and save Evolet, encountering all manner of beasts (setting free a tiger that was previously about to eat him, he scolds, "Do not eat me when I set you free!" The tiger then should have said, "Well, gee...okay, I guess I see your point.") and obstacles. The tiger, not surprisingly, comes in as a useful ally not too long afterwards.
The movie's problem isn't the visuals, as the movie certainly has the epic visuals and CGI that one might expect from a big-budget flick. However, an adventure film is really only very exciting if we care about the characters, and that's one aspect where the picture falls short. There's really not a great deal to the picture aside from D'Leh's journey across quite varied terrain, and if the character is both blandly played and underwritten, what adventure there is here just doesn't capture the interest like it should.
The performances aren't enough to make up for the underdeveloped characters, with Strait and Belle offering fairly bland performances that are often overshadowed by the film's grand visuals. Additionally, the lackluster dialogue - there's quite a few unintentionally funny lines throughout the movie - doesn't exactly help things, either.
While I've liked Emmerich's films in the past - "Day After Tomorrow" and "Independence Day" being two examples I've found particularly entertaining - "10,000 BC" remains something of a disappointment. The spectacle is there, but the movie is simply an example of why there needs to be some substance behind the spectacle in movies like this.
VIDEO: "10,000 BC" is presented by Warner Brothers in 2.35:1 (1080p/VC-1). This is a stunner of a transfer, as the picture appeared rock solid throughout the show, with excellent detail and defintion. Small object detail was also impressive throughout much of the film. The picture boasted very pleasing depth, as well. Problems were limited to a couple of slight instances of artifacting - no edge enhancement print flaws or other concerns were spotted. Colors looked bold and richly saturated, with no smearing or other faults. Black level also remained spot-on throughout the show. Overall, aside from a few minor faults, this was an excellent high definition presentation.
SOUND: "10,000 BC" is presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1. While the movie wasn't exactly one of the finest films I've seen recently, the film's audio is certainly the most exciting sound mix I've had the pleasure to sit through in quite some time. Surrounds are used very aggressively to provide various sound effects (animals stomping through the scene, etc), ambience and other elements. Surrounds were almost always used throughout the picture and the mix remained quite enveloping. Bass - especially during a hunting scene early in the picture - is incredibly powerful at times. Audio quality was terrific, with crisp, clear dialogue and punchy, clean effects.
EXTRAS: Deleted scenes (including an alternate ending), "A Wild and Wooly Ride" featurette and "Inspiring an Epic" featurette. The two featurettes are largely promotional fare and don't go into too much depth. While Emmerich isn't the best at doing commentaries, it is a little surprising that this is his first film - that I'm aware of, at least - where he hasn't provided a commentary track.
Final Thoughts: "10,000 BC" is a miss for Emmerich, as while the picture is visually spectacular at times, there's just not much story at all and the thinly written characters (and lackluster performances) make it difficult to become involved. The Blu-Ray offers up stellar audio/video quality, but extras are minimal.
The Film C-