The packaging for Minotaur proclaims it to be The standout fantasy of 2012′; a bold statement in any year but especially in a year which before long will give us the first part of Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit. Jackson will have had to have dropped the ball pretty spectacularly with his Lord of the Rings prequel for it to be anywhere near as bad as Minotaur.
Minotaur also claims to be based on the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur, but the only thing it has in common with that story is that it mostly takes place in a labyrinth. Even the eponymous monster has little relation to the half man half bull creature of Greek mythology; this Minotaur is just a sort of big skeletal alien cow thing that every three years is fed a collection of youths from the Iron Age village of Thena. The most recent batch of unfortunate young folks dropped into the creature’s lair includes Tom Hardy’s Theo, who is determined to kill the beast and to find out what happened to his girlfriend, who was part of the last offering.
Minotaur was originally released back in 2006 (a pre-Bronson Hardy looks a lot scrawnier than he does these days) but feels like a throwback to the fantasy golden age of the 1980s. With its reliance on animatronics, outlandish prosthetic make-up and even big bouffant hairdos, as well as the fact that it takes itself entirely seriously, watching Minotaur feels like watching Krull, Hawk the Slayer or Beastmaster. Unfortunately it doesn’t even have the entertainingly cheesy thrill of those classics’.
Director Jonathan English has since gone on to make Ironcla,d which was an enjoyably gory, micro-budgeted historical adventure but he doesn’t bring any of that energy to Minotaur. Although he does manage to wrangle some gloomy atmosphere in to the opening scenes, which were shot in the Luxembourgian and Welsh countryside; most of the film takes place in the labyrinth, which looks like it’s made out of paper-mache. After an hour and a half of watching the teenage protagonists wandering around looking scared, even the novelty of wondering which one will get picked off next has worn off. It doesn’t help that the film is incredibly badly edited, making some sequences frustratingly confusing and others feel surreally disjointed. To his credit Tom Hardy seems to be giving it his all and brings his now familiar brand of intensity to the film but he can’t save Minotaur from being a rambling mess.
Overall Verdict: The only impressive thing about Minotaur is that it took Tom Hardy only five years to progress from schlock like this to starring in Inception and The Dark Knight Rises. Even dedicated fans of so-bad-its-good movies will find little enjoyment here.
Name of Reviewer: Adam Pidgeon