Film Corner: Cyclops

Tonight's Amazon Prime movie for busking is CYCLOPS. "When a terrifying Cyclops is terrorizing the Roman countryside the corrupt emperor, Tiberius, sends in his strongest general, Marcus." I...have so many questions. Why would you use terrifying and terrorizing within three words of each other? Why Romans? Why Tiberius? WE SHALL FIND OUT.

We open in a forest where three men are lost but happy to steal some random sheep. This will be fine. Actually, you know what, they're probably goats. I could only see them from a distance and I thought there was a baa-ing sound effect and also I'm a city slicker. A cyclops in a leather diaper is here to kill them all, so that was fast and to the point. That'll teach you to steal unattended goats.

Now we're in Rome. Got some folks in Passion play costumes and every building has a minimum of 20 external pillars. Oh gosh, Eric Roberts is in this. We last saw him playing a villain in KING'S GUARD. I assume he's the evil emperor. Everyone agrees to send Marcus after the cyclops, which seems reasonable, but it was sorta said in an evil way so maybe there's nefarious politics afoot.

Marcus is the youngest Roman officer, so they cast an actor who looks (and apparently is; I checked IMDB) 45 years old. He's hanging out in the local inn of ill repute, smacking on ladies. Marcus is extremely annoyed at being expected to do soldiery things. I've had those Mondays. The messenger stole his girl and I'm not sure why that was relevant to the movie, but we're marching now!

Ok, Marcus called them sheep so I feel better about calling them sheep. Kinda alarmed that they found the sheep so fast. We're 10 minutes into a 90 minute movie. He...He has a coach's whistle for the archers. that...anachronistic? It certainly feels anachronistic??? Ok, no, he's using his fingers. It just sounds like a coach's whistle. I can't whistle, so I'm perpetually astonished by people who can. Witches, all of them. It's been a long day.

Well, most of the infantry got crushed and the archers weren't terribly effective, but the MASSIVE PIT they dug off screen in a jiffy did in fact capture the cyclops. It's going back to Rome. Short movie, very bold.

Emperor Eric evils about the palace, evilly.

I really do wonder why they picked Tiberius. If you're going to just make up stuff, why not use Nero or Caligula? Someone fun!! There's a lot about Emperor Eric being a mean emperor and I'm a little worried because none of it had anything to do with cyclopes. Cyclopsi? Cyclopses.

Marcus leads the cyclops into Rome, parade-style. He pouts when Emperor Eric gives him a promotion but not a raise. Eric politely tells him to fuck off and then keep fucking off. I can't say I blame him. Outside, an improperly tethered cyclops wreaks havoc and eats a few people before being subdued. Emperor Eric decides to use him in the gladiator games. Oh no. Is this a ripoff attempt at Gladiator?

We have now had four scenes in a row establishing that Emperor Eric plans to feed innocent slaves to the cyclops. They really didn't trust the audience to be paying attention.

...five scenes.

The cyclops killed a guard, ate him, broke out of prison, and sneaked up on four poker players before anyone noticed. STEALTH CYCLOPS. The next morning: ""Oh my god! Get the troops! Tell them the cyclops is gone, and it's killing people!" *starts chugging sprite*

I assumed, rather naturally I feel, that the plot was going to be arena-based since the movie keeps harping on it, but the slaves seem to be doing a good job escaping in the whole "cyclops loose in the city" thing. Marcus is dispatched to bring the slaves back, while the cyclops sulks in prison. For a movie called CYCLOPS, most of the plot feels only tangentially related to the actual cyclops. Maybe the real cyclops was the friends we made along the way.

Marcus Romulus is all on board with crucifying the slaves until he realizes one of them is his old pal, so he defies orders and gets himself arrested and sentenced to the arena. We're go on GLADIATOR ripping-off.

Evil Emperor Eric thinks "decimation" means 50 percent. This troubles me.

Boy, this arena is packed. There's gotta be at least thirty people here!!

Back to the movie, the gladiators are panicking. None of that "listen to Russell Crowe and try to survive" nonsense here. There IS still a chain with a guy's hand on it, because GLADIATOR. ...I think the protagonist just died. It's nice to see the emperor sitting on the same level as all the peasants, though. Oh, I guess that dead guy just looked like the protagonist.

[TW: Rape] There's one woman in this movie and her entire job is to be threatened with rape by everyone except the good guys. So that's great.

I swear, we just did this with another movie: if you want a thrilling fight to the death, you can't have established both parties as wanting the same guy to win. Not unless the drama is gonna come from trying to keep them both alive! Otherwise, we know who will die. You need to be willing to let your protagonist face a little danger, or he's boring.

Marcus, who has previously never once been motivated by compassion, is lovingly teaching the cyclops to speak, moved by his plight as a prisoner. I don't know, folks. In the next scene, his idealism is undermined by explaining to the Good Girl that the only other woman in the movie MUST be evil, because who ever heard of a movie with two nice women? No, one of them must be villainous.

The crowd adores Marcus, which is very GLADIATOR but totally unearned here, and Tiberius fears that the people may revolt and place Marcus on the throne-- this is just GLADIATOR but not as good. There's a dramatic musical sting at the revelation that the cyclops will never be set free and, like, he....eats people? That's how he deals with conflict, by eating them.

So this is a good study is Spreading Your Plots Too Thin, really. We have too many to really develop them. There's the plot about Marcus gaining his freedom, the plot about his friend staying alive, the plot about the tragic cyclops, and the plot about the evil emperor. GLADIATOR, you may recall, attempted basically one plot: how to get rid of Emperor Incesthair. Marcus has to fight the cyclops, which is a disappointing step down from GLADIATOR when Russell fought Emperor Incesthair.

...oh. They threw Marcus' girlfriend into the ring to "help" him. So that's great. Writing pro-tip: have you considered NOT having everyone and everything threaten your lady characters? She got exactly one good hit in before being tossed aside. Marcus released the cyclops so it could storm into the crowd. You'd think this would affect his popularity with the common people.

Evil Emperor Eric is killed by the cyclops. He hadn't really done much evil--not like Emperor Incesthair--so it feels hollow. Rome is a republic now and there will be no more emperors, the end. Also, the cyclops died and I was supposed to feel sad but I refuse.

That was just awful. Has Eric Roberts ever been in a good movie?

Tomorrow I'll do a B movie I like.


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