Minotaur (2006)

Director: Jonathan English
Writer: Nick Green, Stephen McDool
Cast: Tom Hardy, Michelle Van Der Water, Tony Todd, Lex Shrapnel, Jonathan Readwin, Rutger Hauer, Maimie McCoy, Lucy Brown, James Bradshaw, Fiona Maclaine, Claire Murphy, Ingrid Pitt, Ciaran Murtagh
Seen on: 2.9.2021

Content Note: racism, sexualized violence, sexism, ableism

Every year, Theo’s (Tom Hardy) village gets raided and some young people taken to the great palace to be sacrificed to the Minotaur. The only one who has always been protected is Theo as he is supposed to become the next leader of the village. But when The Leper (Ingrid Pitt) tells him that his big love, abducted a couple of years ago, may still be alive in the Minotaur’s labyrinth, Theo is determined to go. He gets himself on the ship with the sacrifices and sails to Deucalion’s (Tony Todd) and his sister Raphaella’s (Michelle Van Der Water) court to confront them and, more importantly, the Minotaur.

Phew, you can file this film under “Things I Have Watched for Tom Hardy” and “Things I Have Watched So You Don’t Have To”. Trust me, Minotaur is not some kind of underrated fantasy gem, it is just a collection of pretty offensive and very bad fantasy stereotypes.

The film poster showing Theo (Tom Hardy) in the center and Raphaella (Michelle Van Der Water) to the left of him and Deucalion (Tony Tood) to the right.

Leaving aside that the film is a story about a young man setting out to save the woman he loves (because that’s pretty much just par for the sexist course), I think the thing that struck me the most is the utter racism in the film, starting with the fact that the poor white villagers are abducted by the savage Black king and queen. Who not only believe in some heathen cult, if not to say that they are devil worshippers, but they are also shown to be morally depraved with incest, sex in general, and drugs.

As is part of that racist package, this negative portrayal of them doesn’t keep the film from sexually objectifying Raphaella all the time and in the most placative way. She hops around in a skimpy bikini all the time, and is by turns wily seductress and hapless victim to be rescued. It’s almost physically painful to watch, although Von Der Water does her best to wrangle some humanity from the role. (Tony Todd, too, but the film gives him even less to work with.)

Theo (Tom Hardy) and the other abducted sacrifices kneeling.

The white women in the film get slightly better treatment (at least they get actual clothes), but there is a gratuitous scene where two of the female sacrifices are drugged and made to kiss each other (the Minotaur finds that aroused flesh tastes better or something) that the film ogles with great delight. When one of the two women recoils afterwards and is uncomfortable with that, a completely understandable reaction given that she was just sexually assaulted, the film chooses to show it as uptightness instead. There is also a woman who chooses not to speak (for whatever reason, if there is an explanation, I missed it and I’m not willing to go back), with her boyfriend begging her to just say his name once which is just disrespectful (I thought at first she was actually Deaf, which would have made things even worse). She then starts talking later-on in the film because having a non-verbal character is obviously too much hassle.

And if all of those problems aren’t enough for you and you still want to see the film, let me tell you that it simply isn’t very good. I almsot started rooting for the Minotaur to eat them all. The script doesn’t work, the CGI looks dated even for 15 years ago, and the obviously small budget shows in the worst ways. And, to add insult to injury, Tom Hardy doesn’t look particularly good in it, either. This one just cannot be salvaged, not even in a “so bad it’s good” way

Raphaella (Michelle Van Der Water) sitting on her throne in a skimpy outift.

Summarizing: let it be forgotten.

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