Minotaur (2006)

Minotaur (2006)

Curse the god. Slay the beast.

In the ancient land of Minos, a small village of shepherds and farmers live under the cruel reign of Deucalion, a tyrannical ruler who, every five years, sends his soldiers into the village to take eight teenagers and throws them into the Labyrinth to be sacrificed to his god, the Minotaur. Under an agreement between Deucalion and Cyrnan, the village leader, his son, Theo, would not be taken captive for he would be the one to lead the village in the future. However when Theo finds out that his love, taken years earlier, is still alive, he swaps places with one of the captives. Thrown into the Labyrinth with the others, Theo must find a way to escape before the Minotaur kills them.

 

Ancient Greek mythology is superb: stories of mortal men going up against insurmountable odds in the form of mythical monsters and gods. You’ve also got betrayal, rivalry, jealousy, romance, violence and tragedy. You name it, somewhere in the Greek mythology it will spring up. It’s a gold mine of entertainment waiting to happen. And given the wealth of mythical monsters that have come down throughout the ages thanks to the Greeks, I’m quite surprised that relatively few horror films have gone down this route. Hammer tried it with The Gorgon but there has been little attempt to base horror films around these monsters. So it makes a welcome change to see a horror film which doesn’t just have a guy in a mask, genetically altered animals or aliens killing people. Granted it’s loosely based on the myth but Minotaur has the balls to not only include the Minotaur as its monster, it also sets the film back in the ancient times to give it a unique period setting. It gets top marks for this in my eyes but is the film any good?

Well yes and no. I got the constant feeling throughout the film that I wanted to like it more than I actually did. There are loads of kick ass moments but then on the flip side there are plenty of scenes which drag. Given its setting and style, you think you’re in for something more substantial but at the end of the day, it is just another ‘monster-on-the-loose’ flick. As much as it piles on the fancy sets, costumes and dialogue, you still feel like you’ve seen it before. You still know which characters are going to live and die. You know that certain characters will get their comeuppance. Hell, you can pretty much tell how they’re going to kill the Minotaur midway through the film with constant close-ups of the gas holes which release a narcotic gas into the labyrinth.

The Minotaur itself looks maniacal. It’s no longer half-man/half-bull, it’s 100% animal and it’s CGI for the most, save a few close-ups. The animators have given it some sort of skeleton/zombie look which really makes it look like it came straight out of Hell. It’s big and constantly ticked off. Although it has lost its human elements and has been turned into a generic movie monster, it still kick ass. There are one or two moments in which the CGI looks ropey but for the most, it’s pretty flawless considering it was straight-to-DVD. It also does a lot of goring. The film is pretty bloody although the body count isn’t too high. I was a bit disappointed in its lair though – the fabled labyrinth. It’s more like a system of caves than a never-ending maze of passages. I always felt like the exit was just around the characters for the character – but you still wouldn’t want to get stuck down there.

The cast has plenty of names in it. Tom Hardy (of Star Trek: Nemesis, Layer Cake and most recently as Bane in The Dark Knight Rises) makes for a pretty bland hero. Theo isn’t exactly the most dashing, courageous man that you’d have expected him to be and looks like he belongs in Lord of the Rings. He doesn’t give a toss about anyone else in the labyrinth – he just went in there to try and find his love. If I had a long lost love and would have to go into the labyrinth with a big monster like the Minotaur to kill first, I’d send her a message saying it was time to move on.

More effective in his role is Tony Todd. I’m a big fan of this guy’s work. He’s got such an imposing, unmistakable voice and the man can come off as such a menace in any role of the villain roles he plays. He’s perfect as the gas-snorting, incest-obsessed ruler Deucalion. Certainly one of the more lavish roles he’ll get to play. You’ve also got Hammer legend Ingrid Pitt in a cameo and Rutger Hauer also pops up early on to cash a pay cheque. Don’t even bother with the other people thrown into the labyrinth. As usual you’ll only find out one character trait before they’re bull food. The mute girl is pretty hot though.

 

Minotaur is an underwhelming experience. It’s totally formulaic but somehow different. You’ll feel like you’ve just watched something like The Relic again but then the whole mythological spin immediately throws that out of your mind. The jury is still out.

 

 ★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

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