17 September 2002 | dinky-4
Nothing amazing about this maze
The legend of Theseus finding his way through the Cretan maze in order to battle the Minotaur and rescue Ariadne is one of the great tales in Greek mythology. Alas, this version takes the tale and dilutes it into the standard "sword and sandal" plot. You know how it goes. The coldly-beautiful but evil queen lusts after the handsome, muscular hero. He already has a girlfriend and is a foe of tyranny and so spurns the queen. She's outraged, has the girlfriend imprisoned, and subjects the hero to a torturous trial. He triumphs, frees the girlfriend, and overthrows the tyrant. Grateful citizens cheer the happy couple. The End.
Steve Reeves might have been able to lift this mixture to a higher level but in his place we have ex-Olympics champion, Bob Mathias. Mathias is an affable sort and he's given an opportunity to show off his athletic prowess by engaging in a display of javelin throwing, pole vaulting, and discus throwing. He also looks pretty good with his shirt off, though not quite as good as you'd hope and he seems a bit self-conscious about baring his chest. On a more troubling note, however, his personality is bland, his acting ability no more than passable, and he lacks the swaggering sexuality needed to give his character that necessary edge.
Rosanna Schiaffino gets to play the evil queen as well as her virtuous twin sister. She's good at being bad but bad at being good. As for the Minotaur, traditionally represented with the head of a bull, it's poorly depicted here as a stunt-man dressed in sort of a King Kong suit, and the climatic battle between Theseus and the Minotaur doesn't deliver the expected thrills. Also, little is made of the strand of yarn which leads Theseus out of the maze, and the Minoan culture is only vaguely hinted at in the sets and costumes.
And once again, the movie bungles the torture scene. Theseus winds up in the queen's torture chamber, chained to a wall, but he's modestly allowed to keep on the top of his tunic! So when the torturer approaches with the red-hot iron, he must reach out and make a discreet rip in the hero's shirt in order to expose a bit of bare flesh next to the hero's left nipple. Hey, this is a "sword and sandal" movie featuring a muscular actor as its star. Why not rip that shirt all the way off and put the hero's sweaty torso on proper display?