25 October 2005 | dinky-4
A minor historical drama with points of interest
Those "sword and sandal" movies which came out of Italy in the wake of Steve Reeves' "Hercules" might be divided into two categories. There are the mythological movies which include gods and goddesses, fanciful beasts, magic potions, and heroes of superhuman strength; then there are the historical movies which simply tell "action" stories set during the days of ancient Greece and Rome. Falling into the latter category is this movie which, on videotape, is also known as "Three Giants from Rome" and "Three Giants of the Roman Empire." Its hero is not a demi-god such as Hercules but rather a gallant soldier known as Marcus whose battles are not against fire-breathing dragons but rather against political enemies in the year 310 A.D. As a historical drama this movie has promise but it's badly marred, (at least in videotape prints which seem to be missing bits of footage), by unwanted touches of slapstick comedy and by a confused geography which often has the viewer wondering just where various scenes take place. In Rome itself, on the Empire's northeastern frontiers, or somewhere in between? What's more, the movie's final battle scene merely pads out the running time without adding significant interest to the story. On the plus side must be counted handsome, blue-eyed Brad Harris -- one of the best of the Steve Reeves' wannabe's -- who lends strength and substance to a part barely deserving of his efforts. While the script doesn't endow him with superhuman powers, it does subject him to one of those "beefcake-bondage" ordeals which are hallmarks of the sword-and-sandal genre. Stripped to loincloth and boots and tied between two pairs of horses, Harris -- looking great at age 37 -- is stretched like the proverbial wishbone for more than a full minute but he does not snap and this scene -- along with similar ones involving Steve Reeves in "Goliath and the Barbarians," Reg Park in "Maciste in King Solomon's Mines," and Kirk Morris in "Triumph of the Son of Hercules" -- is a classic.