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The Minotaur

***
2006

‘…a risible visual porridge of bad acting and worse dialogue…’

Yikes! Amazon Prime are currently offering up this laughable Tom Hardy fantasy movie which their blurb describes as having been made in 2019, except this film clearly wasn’t made in 2019; it’s actually from 2006. Then again, you don’t go to Amazon’s computer-generated blurbs for basic accuracy; they’ve also listed Joan Crawford’s Oscar win for Mildred Pierce as being from the same year, some forty years after her death. Films like the Minotaur don’t deserve too much respect, unless you’re a fan of truly bad movies. The calculation by film-makers is that most of us have heard the Greek legend of Theseus and the Minotaur, so the movie might just connect with a captive audience of closet classical studies fans worldwide. That this Luxembourg-filmed Euro-pudding did no such thing is largely due to the stalwart efforts of the cast and crew assembled here, who somehow turn a venerable story into a risible visual porridge of bad acting and worse dialogue.

So this is the great Tom Hardy in his ‘nobody cares’ phase, long before he notably re-invented himself so strikingly with Bronson. Lank of hairdo, he shuffles around a tatty labyrinth set in sackcloth and ashes, looking as much of a hero as Baldrick in Blackadder. His character is called Theo, and he’s the son of village chieftain Cyman (somehow Rutger Hauer), who is in conflict with King Deucalion (somehow Candyman Tony Todd). Deucalion has made an arrangement whereby a bunch of Cyman’s citizens are rounded up every three years and thrown into the labyrinth where a beast that was created by the unholy union of man and bull-god will have them for breakfast. Theo is angry that his girlfriend has been previously selected, and infiltrates the Deucalion’s realm to find his girlfriend and kill the unholy beast…

If Hardy’s non-event of a performance is what draws the unwitting into Jonathan English’s film, then it’s Tony Todd’s outrageous performance as King Deucalion that will haunt your dreams and melt your mind. Wide-eyed and senseless, dressed in sweat-soaked bin-bags, Todd is an actor who rarely gives a dull performance, but perhaps took one look the gloomy sets and tatty monster supplied here and thought; I’m going to illuminate this film with sheer acting. The take-away is that Todd is camper than the Rocky Horror Picture Show in this, and the dialogue he spouts defies belief.

In any other film, Michelle Van Der Water’s prodigiously ridiculous work as the felicitous Queen Raphella, who sports spectacular hair and eye make-up arrangements even after days supposedly wandering around in a filthy labyrinth, might have been a taking point, but there’s no competing with Todd’s sensational efforts here. if Joan Crawford hadn’t so famously run away with the 2006 Oscars, surely Todd would have had a chance with this immortal performance..

Deucalion: My God is ready for his meat! Let us see the mouth of hell. Open the gates! [goes towards the two virgins] Do not be afraid, your spirits will lie warm in the belly of the bull, and your flesh will taste sweeter, now that it’s aroused. [yelling down the hole] Come, POWERFUL ONE! Come SEE what I have brought you! COME TASTE!… If this is your pleasure, then so be it; I will corrupt you with every soldier and slave in the palace; I will cast you to the lepers and watch them crawl inside of you. Then when you WILL beg for me – then will come the bull! [Minotaur: pregnant pause] But first, your young shepherd; heh, heh, heh!

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  1. Does he frown? Does he mumble? Or is he a mere shadow of his current screen persona? Don’t see any real harm in bringing back an oldie. How else back in the day did we discover films where out favoured star had a bit part of had made a film he/she never wanted you to see?

  2. This sounds incredible. The dialogue in the last paragraph there smacks of cared for, eloquent words of a well trained craftsman. Will recommend this to a unwitting friend for my own sadistic amusement.

  3. Ah your review made me laugh, the trailer made me cringe, and I bet Mr.Hardy is writing a strongly worded email to Amazon to get this removed. Much as I like him it’s a nope from me.

  4. Tubi has this year-listing snafu, as well. I guess they’re going by it’s official “digital release” and not it’s theatrical? Time and time again, I hit the IMDb to read up on the movie — and the year of release never matches, either Tubi or Amazon (but mostly Tubi, for me).

    As for this film: Clearly, it is from 2006. Just from the still you’ve included, you can see it’s a then unknown, younger Tom Hardy. But he’s “hot” now, so time to dump the vaults.

    This makes me think back to seeing Rock Hudson’s last film, the U.S. TV movie, The Las Vegas Strip War (1984) on the few-years-later video shelves: there’s Sharon Stone, front and center on the box — even though she wasn’t “Sharon Stone” yet, and just a minor part of the film’s ensemble cast. Quite a few films have pulled this promotional stunt of either placing the then unknown-now-known actor to the forefront or breathing new life into some forgotten, years-gone-by flick done by the now “hot” actor.

    • And yet this IS leading man Hardy, or at least, before he went away and beefed up his body and his acting style. He’s awful in this, but with everyone else chewing the scenery, his options are limited. I’m building up a file of innacurate Amazon data and shonky subtitles, and yes, Plex, Tubi and others are even worse. It should surely be a minimum requirement to get the date and cast right…but as a good-bad-movie, it’s hilarious and worth the three star rating for entertainment value…

      • One film in that digital Venn Diagram I’ll point out is the low-budget, urban action-comedy, Compton’s Finest. Released completely under-the-radar, it shows up a couple of years later, re-imaged, as “Hub City” on Tubi for discovery. There’s a LOT of that going on, over on the Tubi platform: the re-image of previous Amazon PPVs that didn’t click with streaming audiences.

        • Aha. I’ll check this out. It seems like the streaming rules are not set yet, things turn up in the oddest places. So many things on UK Netflix are billed as Netflix Originals when they’ve been running for years in NBC.

  5. How did this get three stars? Where’s Boba Fett? Or the potato dudes?

    Films . . . doesn’t in first para. Camper than. Your spirits. Think that does it.

    • Thanks as always, accuracy IS important to me. ‘So bad It’s good’ films get three stars for for entertainment value.

      Boba Fett is next up, will examine the closing chapter of his book tonight. Won’t be doing Sex lives of potato men, is that a title that particularly interests you?

        • Aha, in the same way as you claimed that you personally funded my special guest star performance on Canadian radio?

          Mark Gatiss, Julia Davis, Lucy Davis, it certainly captured up and coming talent…

    • Hahaha. This is gonna be my new line for film reviews: This movie stinks. No Boba Fett. Good stuff!

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