Roland Emmerich’s much-maligned pre-historic fantasy adventure is making the rounds of the cable channels these days. It’s not a good movie, but it’s not as terrible as some claim either. Slavers capture some people from a tribe of mammoth hunters, including our hero’s love, so he sets out with a few other brave friends to track them down and effect a rescue. It turns out they are being taken to slave on massive pyramids, being erected by an advanced prehistoric civilization a la Stygia, ruled by sacrifice-demanding “gods” from Atlantis, or perhaps another world. There are other weird elements in the prophecies that move the plot and an ancient witch-woman with visionary and other powers. Obviously, complaints about historical accuracy are as off base as they would be regarding a Kull movie. The real stars of the show are the metafuana, particularly a scene stealing digital sabre-tooth and the hordes of mammoths.
Rolling Stone’s Peter Travers agrees:
The best acting comes from woolly mammoths, man-eating ostriches and a saber-toothed tiger — and those babies are digital. It’s the human actors who look fake.
Like Conan, D’leh (Steven Strait) can raise an army when needed, and he manages to recruit a tribe of black savages to his cause as well as igniting a slave rebellion among the pyramid workers.
The climactic invasion of the united barbarians and savages, sweeping into the decadent civilization of the pyramid-builders to slaughter and destroy evokes Howard; it’s like watching the fall of Acheron or the chaotic climax of “Marchers of Valhalla.”
Like “In the Name of the King,” this is an attempt to do sword & sorcery without actually crediting Howard, but his influence is there anyway. It’s also an interesting enough, if flawed, popcorn movie.