Thursday, November 17, 2011
Reviews of MINOTAUR (2005) & THE HORDE (2009)
MINOTAUR (2005) is a good try at a modern retelling of the Greek myth of the powerful beast in the heart of the labyrinth. It has many things that point to the possibility of it being good including a strong cast of veteran actors and talented newcomers, nice location shooting and pretty interior sets but it doesn’t quite succeed. Once the action moves to the lair of the beast the characters trapped there trying to survive are poorly defined and interchangeable. There is some very good physical acting by Tom Hardy and other members of the cast as they struggle to kill the Minotaur but too often the film looks and feels thinner than it should. This shows in some shaky cave walls, a few bad CGI monster effects and in the already mentioned lightweight characters. Still, no movie that gives Tony Todd the central villain role and more than 10 lines of dialog can be a total loss and seeing Rutger Hauer as Hardy’s protective father in the opening scenes was good as well. In the end it’s just not a very good film and I can understand its lack of cult movie buzz.
On the other hand, the French film THE HORDE (2009) I heard about solely because of its cult movie buzz. That I watched these two back to back is interesting as it points out what type of film I enjoy more at this point in my life. Although I still really like the peplum genre (mostly the examples from the 1960s) I more often lean toward hard bitten crime stories especially if they are mixed with odd elements. This film is one of the few movies best described as RESERVOIR DOGS crossed with horror that could actually hold a candle to the incredibly fun FROM DUSK TO DAWN. Not that THE HORDE is perfect. Like MINOTAUR this movie could be accused of having stereotypical or thinly written characters but somehow in this taut, fast paced tale it works. Part of what may cause it to appeal to me might be that having the dialog filtered through subtitles makes me engage in a deeper way automatically. Or it might be that in this story the characters mostly become defined by their actions and in MINOTAUR they are all bland with little to differentiate them. Another thing that makes this one much more of my kind of entertainment is that it does deftly handle slamming two different genres together. If I haven’t already mentioned it, THE HORDE is a zombie film and a pretty effective one at that. The film opens with a police raid on a high rise building to take down some Nigerian criminals when the zombie apocalypse interrupts the bad situation in progress. That’s when things get interesting! This a tight 90 minutes of badass zombie action with very little that I found distracting or dumb and these days that is about the best critique of a zombie film I can give. More like this and less like …… the vast majority of zombie films out there.