Eternally popular rogue sailor Sinbad returns yet again with “Sinbad and the Minotaur”, a mythological mash up that sees him searching for treasure and pitted against the fearsome bull beast. Mixing Greek myth and Arabic folk tales with a comic touch, the film was directed by Karl Zwicky (“Farscape”) and stars Manu Bennett (“Spartacus: Blood and Sand”, “30 Days of Night”) in the lead, with Steven Grives (“Mission: Impossible”) as his evil foe. The film is now available on region 2 DVD via Chelsea Films, with no extra features to speak of other than a basic trailer.
The film kicks off with Sinbad (Bennett) sneaking into the camp of sinister sorcerer Al-Jibar (Grives), hoping to steal a map which will reveal the location of the head of the legendary golden Colossus of Rhodes. Sinbad being Sinbad, at the same time he also manages to snatch a kidnapped princess called Tara (Holly Brisley), who joins him and his band of pirates on their quest. Needless to say, Al-Jibar isn’t too pleased and sets out in pursuit of the thieving rascal, following him to a mysterious island whose creepy inhabitants are clearly hiding an awful secret. Sinbad doesn’t seem particularly bothered by the locals sprouting horns, and scours the island for the treasure, heading down into the huge labyrinth which also houses the terrifying Minotaur.
“Sinbad and the Minotaur” very clearly aims for the same kind of irreverent fun as the television series “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys” and “Xena: Warrior Princess”, with a script equal parts derring-do and wacky gags. Unfortunately, this never really works, mainly since the cast lack the charisma and basic likeability of Kevin Sorbo, Lucy Lawless et al. To be fair, Manu Bennett is reasonable enough in the role, though never quite manages to bring enough energy to his hero, and frequently seems to be merely going through the motions. Holly Brisley does a little better, though the two have no real chemistry or spark between them, with most of their flirting or comic sparring falling flat. Worse still, Steven Grives is a real blank as the supposedly villainous Al-Jibar, and his evil deeds and schemes never carry much weight or threat. Though none turn in performances that are noticeable, let alone memorable, the fault also lies with the script itself, which simply isn’t funny, combining weak slapstick and lame banter to underwhelming effect.
Matters are not helped by the fact that the film feels very much like an over extended episode of a television series, with some pretty poor production values, sets and special effects. Crucially for a creature feature, the Minotaur itself fails to impress, being brought to life through shoddy CGI that at times looks like it has been cut and pasted onto the screen. Although there is a fair amount of action and two fisted adventure, Zwicky’s handling is sluggish, and the film never comes to life, lurching between unambitious set pieces without offering any surprises or noticeable excitement. Oddly enough, these are punctuated by a few flashes of gore and nastiness, which don’t sit comfortably with the rest of the film, and which sadly make it less suitable for the kind of younger viewers most likely to enjoy it.
As things stand, “Sinbad and the Minotaur” doesn’t have much to recommend it, suffering from a dull cast, plodding action, and a script which largely misses its targets. Certainly, fans looking for some old school Sinbad action would be far better returning to the Ray Harryhausen films, any one of which has more invention and imagination in a single frame than this sorry piece of mediocrity.
Karl Zwicky (director) / Jim Noble (screenplay)
CAST: Manu Bennett … Sinbad
Holly Brisley … Tara
Lily Brown … Arianna
Dimitri Baveas … Pericles
Steven Grives … Al-Jibar
Brad McMurray … Timos
Jared Robinson … Seif
Terry Antoniak … Nestor