Directed and co-written by Roland Emmerich, who's previously given us Stargate, Independence Day, Godzilla and The Day After Tomorrow, 10,000 B.C. offers audiences the prospect of epic action on a canvas as broad as human history; what it delivers is another matter entirely. In an age where computer-generated effects make spectacle possible, and audiences reward blood-and-thunder films like Gladiator and 300 at the box office, greenlighting 10,000 B.C. must have seemed logical. I can imagine someone pitching the film, to paraphrase Team America: World Police, by saying "It's like 300 .... plus 9,700!"

But as Emmerich's films have always demonstrated, suggesting that spectacle can make up for weak storytelling is like suggesting that having a great haircut can make up for being born without a skeleton. And, so it is in 10,000 B.C., where a variety of off-the-rack plot points and generic heroic journeys are decorated with computer-generated baubles like wooly mammoths and saber-toothed tigers and massed mobs, shiny hollow Christmas ornaments hung on a bare, ruined tree. Emmerich co-wrote 10,000 B.C. with Harald Klosser and put an army of technicians to work on the movie, but the end result simply feels like threads and themes and moments borrowed from other films.