After an attack on their village by ‘four-legged demons’ (horse-riding slave raiders), D’Leh and his mentor, Tic’Tic (Cliff Curtis), brave the snow-topped mountains, lush jungle, wide savannah and parched desert in search of those who were abducted. As they travel towards ‘the mountains of the gods’ – gold-topped pyramids built by slaves and harnessed mammoths – they persuade other tribes to join their war against the raiders.
This ‘Tweenies’ take on ‘Apocalypto’ is insipid stuff. The so-called ‘terror birds’ are fierce versions of Rod Hull’s Emu; the woolly mammoths are benign beasts; and the sabre-toothed tiger, with which D’Leh has a mysterious telepathic connection, seems to have wandered in from Narnia. There is also more than a hint of Erich von Däniken’s book ‘Chariots of the Gods’ about the pyramids, where effete, claret-robed priests grovel before the albino Almighty One. The vapid young leads have no presence whatsoever, so Kiwi actor Curtis is left to wrestle what gravitas he can from the risible dialogue.
As one would expect, the director of ‘The Day After Tomorrow’ has no trouble integrating the spectacular vistas and impressive visual effects into a mix-and-match whole. However, Emmerich’s storytelling lacks the kinetic energy and visceral impact of Mel Gibson’s muscular myth-making: like the lumbering mammoths, it is plodding and dull.