Anchor Bay // 2008 // 94 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // February 20th, 2009
The rise of Cyclops is the fall of Rome!
Well, maybe history didn't unfold exactly like that, but I guarantee that reality isn't nearly as interesting as a giant one-eyed freak running around popping heads off of dudes like they were dandelions.
Poor Cyclops. He just wants to be left alone. Sure, he'll ransack a caravan once in a while and devour the colons of the human passengers, but what do you want? He's a gigantic beast with the emotional development of a toddler. It's in his nature to kill with wanton savagery. Since he's unleashing his mayhem on the roads of Rome, Emperor Tiberius (Eric Roberts, The Dark Knight), a d-bag if there ever was one, orders his best soldier Marcus Romulus (Kevin Stapleton) to hunt down and capture the beast.
Which he does, because he's almost as awesome as he thinks he is. He brings the Cyclops back to Rome, where it's dumped into the arena to square off against Rome's finest for the amusement of the Emperor. And after an unfortunate series of events, our hero Marcus finds himself on the wrong side of the Tiberius's temper and forced into the arena where he'll do his best to ape the good parts of Gladiator.
It may be historical revisionism and the Roman citizens all have astonishingly white teeth and clean-pressed, flamboyant robes and, yes, Ridley Scott should probably file a lawsuit, but this Roger Corman-produced monster mash does pretty much what it needs to: supply a copious amount of Cyclops action, add in some painful yet amusingly cheesy acting, and blow the budget on fake blood. In other words, Cyclops is a fun little B-movie.
I have to start with the centerpiece of the film, the Cyclops himself. Rendered almost entirely in CGI (a few close-up shots appear to utilize practical creature effects), the Cyclops is a relatively effective creation. Relative, of course, to movies with similar visual effects budgets. His look and movements are actually reminiscent of the stop-motion Harryhausen creations and before you start typing up that fuming e-mail to me, I'm not saying these effects are on the same level -- they just tap into the fond memories of Sinbad's Cyclops and that, right away, earned this monster some good will. I also dug how the filmmakers didn't shy away from putting their heavy on screen for extended amounts of time and in the daylight. Yes, the CGI flaws are more apparent, but it's a ballsy approach and the movie benefits from it. We're also blessed by lots of Cyclops-generated violence and the blood is spilled inventively and freely.
Ironically, the weak links of the film are the humans. None of the characters are interesting, especially the main ones; Robert completely phones in his performance, setting the dial to Evil Smirking Bad Guy with Great Hair and punching cruise control. Kevin Stapleton's Marcus Romulus may be one of the most boring gladiators-turned-Cyclops-slayers ever, lollygagging through the paces with his Supercuts coiffure and lukewarm personality. It's amazing the slaves and on-the-fence soldiers find him so rousing as to take up arms against the Emperor in lieu of napping.
Not much going on with the DVD save the solid technical treatment. The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer is clean as is the 5.1 surround mix. Extras were decapitated in the arena.
A few housekeeping barbs to lob: the big finale with the Rome mob suddenly developing a conscience is a stretch even for a Cyclops movie, the politicking and sneering between Tiberius and his second banana is tiresome, and wait until you see the touching heart-to-heart Marcus has with the Cyclops about freedom and birds.
It's a corny creature feature through and through, but Cyclops delivers the schlocky goods.
Not guilty. I can't believe I wrote that.
Review content copyright © 2009 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Anchor Bay
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 94 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Not Rated