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- Published on Amazon.com
Theseus is pretty much a forgotten figure when it comes to Hollywood movies based on Greek mythology. You are more likely to find Theseus in a television series, especially if Hercules is the main character, or in a production of Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream." There is a 1961 Italian film, "Teseo contro il minotauro," but that is just another forgotten "sword and sandals" beefcake film. Theseus is considered the greatest hero in Athenian history and while someday his story will be given the same treatment the Perseus ("Clash of the Titans"), Achilles ("Troy"), Odysseus ("The Odyssey"), and even Jason ("Jason and the Argonauts") have received, I am here to tell you that "Minotaur" is not that film. In the final analysis, this is not so much a bad film as one that is just not good.
First of all, if you were expecting this to be the story of Theseus, the young prince of Athens, who slew the Minotaur in the Labyrinth that Daedalus built for King Minos beneath his palace on the island of Crete, you are going to be sadly mistaken. First time screenwriters Nick Green and Stephen McDool set the story in the Iron Age, which means it smacks more of Robert E. Howard and the Hyborian Age of Conan the Barbarian than it does of the poet Homer and the Golden Age of Greece. So we are talking dark stone rather than white marble, or even the colorful frescoes from the Minoan palace at Knossos. Historically the Iron Age refers to the Dark Ages of Greece, which came after the dominance of the Mycenaeans, which extended beyond the High Minoan period that ended with Knossos being destroyed (specifically, iron tools are in use in Greece after 1050 BCE, while the Mycenaean take over of Knossos was four hundred years earlier).
Instead of Theseus, prince of Athens, we have Theo (Tom Hardy), the son of Cyrnan (Rutger Hauer), the ruler of the mud huts of Thena. Instead of King Minos we have Deucalion (Tony Todd), and instead of Ariadne or Phaedra, we have Raphaella (Michelle Van Der Water), Morna (Maime McCoy), and Didi (Lucy Brown). So, Theo also has a princess of sorts that is willing to betray her people to help him, but he also brings along his own future bride sort just to up the romantic elements on this one. Not that there is any time for that because what happens in this 2005 film is that it is explained that every three years Thena needs to send eight youths to be virgin sacrifices to the Minotaur and the next thing we know Theo and seven others have been captured and dumped into the Labyrinth to die, couple by couple.
This is where "Minotaur" clearly becomes a splatter flick. After all, the Minotaur has these giant curved horns and those are obviously perfect weapons for impaling the young men and women who are running around screaming (actually standing still and saying harsh things can find you skewered just as well). This means we are in standard splatter flick territory, with pretty looking young people running around trying not to get killed and failing miserably. The Labyrinth is not really a maze but rather your standard underground cavern system. More importantly, in terms of indicating we are clearly no longer in the realm of classical mythology, the Minotaur is just a monster bull, with big teeth and flayed skin, rather than a man with a bull's head. This despite a prologue running on about how the people wanted their god to be made flesh and had the queen of Minos breed with the deity to give birth to the Minotaur.
Consequently, "Minotaur" is so far removed from the mythology that continuing to complain that nothing is right is pointless since the myth of Theseus was reduced to a single sentence and then turned into a series of gory deaths. Instead I want to know how this monster bull keeps sneaking up on his victims. There is also an unnecessary modern touch in having the whole idea of sacrificing young people to the Minotaur be big lie intended to cover up the failure of the Minos government to create an acceptable god (just creating the monster makes the story work without adding political deception into the mix). But even by its own logic, this movie fails because whether the horns go through the body or the body falls on the horns, there are really not that many different ways of impaling young people. Final Note: Ingrid Pitt, who is fondly remembered from several Hammer films (she was the title character in "Countess Dracula") as well as being in "Where Eagles Dare," has a brief appearance early on as the soothsayer, and the fact that we do not recognize her is sad on at least two levels.