10,000 BC, 12A
The Cottage, 18

Charging mammoths and creeping ice caps – those were the days

Having made a career out of putting the planet in peril, with Independence Day and The Day After Tomorrow, Roland Emmerich has decided to cast back to the good old days, 10,000BC to be precise, when there was only the occasional Ice Age to worry about, perhaps a dinosaur or two, or a sabre-toothed tiger. Nothing a man with a trusty spear couldn't handle.

The date shouldn't be taken too seriously: it's a prehistoric round number, catchy and vague. Emm-erich is counting on most of us not being pal-aeontologists: this isn't about the revelation of a bygone age; it's about CGI.

As a mountain tribe celebrates its latest mammoth hunt, it is attacked by horsemen, who abduct the village's young men. The strangers take only one woman, Evolet (Camilla Belle, below), whose beau, the day's mammoth slayer D'Leh (Steven Strait), sets out to rescue her. Among the obstacles ahead are nasty prehistoric ostriches, a sabre-tooth and quasi-Egyptians (it's 5,000 years too early for the real thing), who are using slaves to build a giant pyramid.

The film works best as a series of spectacles: from the opening hunt – the stampeding mammoths are so well realised that you don't stop to think they aren't real – to the climactic battle of the pyramid-city. Beyond the special effects, however, there is little to make the pulse race.

It is usually the female characters of such films who are scantily clad (think Raquel Welch in One Million Years BC); here, it's the plot, which passes before our eyes without drama, a memorable character or emotional resonance. Emmerich tries to keep his story warm with myths and superstition. The Flintstones is more convincing.

What was most striking about writer/ director Paul Andrew Williams' feature debut, the crime drama London to Brighton, was its originality: it was as though the "mockney" bastardisation of the genre never happened. At the outset of his second film, The Cottage, it seems he is about to refresh another genre, comic horror. Then, disappointingly, he succumbs to rote, and an all-too-familiar slaughterhouse.

It opens promisingly, with bickering brothers David and Peter (Andy Serkis and Reece Shearsmith) arriving at a cottage in the woods, with kidnapped gangster's daughter Tracey (Jennifer Ellison) in the boot of their car. All they need do is call in the ransom.

The chemistry between Serkis and The League of Gentlemen's Shearsmith – between weasel-faced hardman and snivelling incompetent – is nicely wired. And there is humour in the question of who will undo them: the Asian assassins sent by their victim's dad, the unseen menace in the woods, or the foul-mouthed Tracey herself.

Sadly, with the components in place, all Williams can lead us to is yet another loony rural family, and a second half of decapitations, eviscerations and screams. Comparisons with Shaun of the Dead are inevitable. But while that film maintains its wit to the last gobbled corpse, this is on bloody auto-pilot well before.

Arts and Entertainment
War veteran and father of Peter and Laust Thoger Jensen played by Lars Mikkelson

TVBBC hopes latest Danish import will spell success

Arts and Entertainment
Carey Mulligan in Far From The Madding Crowd
FilmCarey Mulligan’s Bathsheba would fit in better in The Hunger Games
Arts and Entertainment
Pandas-on-heat: Mary Ramsden's contribution is intended to evoke the compound the beasts smear around their habitat
Iart'm Here But You've Gone exhibition has invited artists to produce perfumes
Arts and Entertainment
U2's Songs of Innocence album sleeve

tvU2’s latest record has been accused of promoting sex between men

Arts and Entertainment
Alison Steadman in Inside No.9
tvReview: Alison Steadman stars in Inside No.9's brilliant series finale Spoiler alert
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
    'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

    'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

    British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
    Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

    Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

    Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
    14 best kids' hoodies

    14 best kids' hoodies

    Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

    The acceptable face of the Emirates

    Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk