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IN AN IRON AGE VILLAGE 8 YOUTH MUST BE SACRIFICED EVERY 5 YEARS TO A BLOODTHIRSTY MONSTER, THE MINOTAUR. WHEN HIS LOVE IS LOSTTO THE SACRIFICE, THEO BELIEVES SHE IS STILL ALIVE & SETS OFF TO THE PALACE INTENT ON KILLING THE EVIL BULL-GOD.
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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.
Some have mentioned that this is a bigger budget cut above the typical sci-fi network production. Unfortunately, though they threw more money at it, they used the same, no-vision incompetents that make all their other pathetic movies, so they might as well have flushed that money down the toilet. Too bad, because the FX work on the monster was actually pretty decent. Interesting take on the minotaur, too (instead of a human body with a bull's head, it is a quadruped bull with deformed human-like features). Saying that this one is better than Sci-Fi's other movies is no compliment at all. There should be a law that all of their DVDs should be prominently marked as such. I have never seen even a halfway good movie come out of them. Not one. Every Sci-Fi channel movie is some dumbed down, retarded teen-filled mess trying to reach grade B status and failing miserably. WHY do they insist on making more?? I can't find anyone stupid enough to like them. This movie didn't even make a good beer and chips flick, it was too frustrating. What a waste of Rutger Hauer, Tony Todd, and Ingrid Pitt. Rent at your own risk, but don't say you weren't warned. And don't even think of buying it, if you value your self respect. Fifteen thumbs down.
Update, jan 2008: Please read the comments to my review in order to get the perspective of one of the screenwriters of this film. Upon reading Mr. Green's comments, I was going to delete this review, but I've decided to leave it just so people can read what one of the scriptwriters has to say, and so people can catch a glimpse of how this movie business sadly works all too often. Thank you.
First and foremost, if you watched this on television you have negated a lot of the movie. It becomes nothing but a chopped up variant of itself, and it will make you want to turn the channel. Next, forget for a second that there is a legend with a minotaur attached to it and that people know the name of the hero involved. Instead, look at this as a movie that embelishes and rewrites a things that never happened in the first place, and that makes a horrific thing live in a maze and consume people. Then envision the people and their fates and what great theatre that would make. That is how i see the city itself, with the fear it inflicts above reflected in the depths below. After that is done, imagine a thing that would be so horrid that you would be willing to take people and feed it whenever it hungers, knowing that it may get out of its maze and that it may come out and hunt yyour people.
The concept is a terrible affair.
While many people thought this movie was horrible, I liked it for a number of reasons. I left the knoowledge of the tales of yore at the doorstep, and I thought about the thing below. It was a horrible thing, too, and it had a stalking tendency that amounted to playing with its food. And why not - it is bigger than the bitten, more terrifying than anything people have ever seen, and it is tightly controlled by the sect that worships it to stay in power. This means that it would have amazing authority and that the name of the beast itself would evoke shutters in children and their older counterparts alike. Love is a strong thing, however, and love sends a person to challenge these assumptions about the thing that will not die. In this he assumes that it was born of man and that it can die as man, and so he enters the maze. And the drama that he saw above becomes a nightmare that he wasn't prepared for below.
If you like B-movies and can overlook certaain things, then this might be your thing. I personally liked it quite a bit and do not understand all the negative reactions to it. I could IF people watched the cut versions, but the thing in the DVD was horrific to me. The writers went with a monster-god, too, and did challenge the old stories with a new tale. Still, it worked for me and it might work for you as well. Just keep an open mind, enjoy the blood and the agony, and think of the place you are entering. It would be terrible and then some, to say the least.
The king, Deucalion, (Tony Todd) decrees eight children must be sacrificed to the minotaur every five years because a prince was killed in the city. The king's men come and pick the 8.
Theo (Tom Hardy), son of the town's leader, Cyman, (Rutger Hauer) replaces one of the chosen because his girlfriend Didi (Lucy Brown).
The king, who believes himself to be a god also has a thing for his sister, Raphealla (Michelle Van Der Water) and wants her to "receive his seed". He is upset when the sister has the hots for one of the potential sacrifices and spurns his advances.
Raphealla goes down the pit to find Theo and become a potential fodder for the Minotaur. This displeases her brother greatly. He also descends to try to find his sister.
The close ups of the Minotaur are really crappy. However, the CGI isn't that bad. Acting if what one would expect from a two-bit flick, but it's not a total train wreck. In fact, overall, it isn't too bad.