Oddly captivating. This is what I can tell you about this particular SciFi Original Movie shipped to DVD that I saw last night. We can’t quite call it a good movie but I’ll tell you that I started watching ‘Cyclops’ the day before, got called out of the house in the middle of the movie and while recognizing that this flick is about as wacky as they come, I was somewhat anxious to get back to the house so that I could finish watching it. And that’s saying something considering this is the same network that has given such gems as ‘Mansquito’ and ‘Raptor Island’.
It is Rome during the reign of emperor Tiberius Julius Caesar Augustus played by… hold on now… Eric Roberts. Now don’t nobody love what E-Rob does anymore than we do, but E-Rob as a Roman Emperor? A curious casting choice to say the least. Regardless, the country side of Rome is being terrorized by a huge one-eyed Cyclops who finds the locals who have the misfortune of wandering into his territory quite tasty, and our erstwhile emperor can’t have monsters eating his tax-paying citizenry.
To stop the scourge of our completely computer generated monster Tiberius has dispatched his rather smarmy right hand man Falco (Craig Archibald) to retrieve Rome’s greatest warrior Marcus (Kevin Stapleton) who happens to be in the midst of some drunken debauchery and revelry, to assemble his crew and hunt and retrieve this monster. We should mention that though actor Kevin Stapleton really does seem to be a fine thespian, again, there’s absolutely nothing about this cat that says ‘Galdiator’. Cab driver, 7-ll Manager, Offensive Guard perhaps - but Gladiator? Hmmm….
Also across town there are some slaves who are having a tough go at it, considering slavery isn’t really the best gig to have at no time in world history. Our slaves are led by the rebellious Gordian (Mike Straub) and a woman Barbara (Frida Farrell) who we thought was his girl but I guess is more like his sister since somebody else ends up
getting up in those drawers with Gordian being completely cool with the situation. Regardless, our slaves escape and now Marcus, who just captured the damn Cyclops, has to retrieve these escaped slaves which leads to a situation where Markus upsets the slimy Falco and has thus finds himself thrown in the gladiator pool along with the slaves he’s just captured.
Mind you the Cyclops has become a bit of a man-eating Roman pet who is routinely starved so he can entertain the populace in the arena by ripping gladiator slaves to shreds and eating them. This would include Marcus who finds himself head up with Cyclops, that is unless he can somehow convince the Cyclops to chill on that eating him thing and to fight along side he and he his new slave buddies for FREEDOM! Good luck with that Marcus.
I gotta tell you that ‘Cyclops’ kind of worked for me. This isn’t to say that it’s a good movie, not really even close to a good movie, but it is kind of a fun movie. Of course it had its share of cinematic issues such as E-Rob playing one of the more detached, disinterested Roman Emperors you’ll ever see, the ‘coliseums’ which we initially thought held thousands upon thousands of people looked more like a cozy ‘dinner theater’ versions of Roman coliseums with twenty or thirty of your close, personal, frenzied buddies in this movie. Our Cyclops was obviously a CG render, with the exception of an arm they had lying around for a scene or two, but being computer generated didn’t stop these filmmakers from making our man a major player in this story as had just about as much screen time as the stars of this flick, if not more. That spare arm they had was funny because it didn’t seem like it matched the CG monster all that well and you could imagine the challenge to act all scared and stuff with some grip off camera holding a rubber arm to your neck.
But despite the ridiculousness of it all, everybody was so earnest with this thing. It’s like they really took this seriously, which sometimes can work against a production that looks as campy as this one, but it did add a sense of urgency to the surroundings. Though the monster was obviously CG it still looked plenty menacing and was built to have emotions, and even though Kevin Stapleton doesn’t seem to be much of a Roman Captain of the Guard, that didn’t stop my man from putting his best foot forward in this role. The narrative, as it was, relatively tight and kind made sense with the silly parameters that it existed in and director Declan O’Brien paced his film well enough that it never felt tedious or boring. Silly perhaps but never boring.
We do want to tip our hat to actress Tania Kozhuarova who plays an upper class object of desire and also is a woman who had this of ‘I Dream of Jeanie’ vibe working in this movie. I don’t think the woman speaks a lick of English though since it looks like her voice was dubbed over, and dubbed over badly, but if the option was taking this lovely woman out of this movie, then we certainly can have that. Dub away my man.
No sir or madam, this movie ‘Cyclops’ is not going to win any kind of awards on any level, but I had little problem looking past its overt cheesiness to find some quality entertainment value within it’s ninety minutes worth of running time.