THE RISE OF CYCLOPS IS THE FALL OF ROME!
If I had a dime every time I've had to consider a new way to introduce a review for DVD Talk of a Sci-Fi Channel movie repurposed on DVD, well, I wouldn't be rich but I'd definitely be richer. For those "not in the know," the cable station Sci-Fi Channel typically airs low budget (and usually low intellect) monster and fantasy movies all day on Saturdays and Sundays. These are B-movies that quickly get turned around as direct-to-video fare by the likes of Sony, Image, and Genius.
Anchor Bay, this time, gets into the mix with a home video release of the recent Sci-Fi concoction Cyclops, co-produced by Roger Corman. And like most Sci-Fi Channel movies, this is pretty bad - but it does have that certain cheesy Saturday afternoon matinee vibe to it that makes it at least watchable.
Former Academy Award nominee Eric Roberts headlines this romp as the evil Emperor Tiberius. Reports arrive in Rome of a Cyclops creature menacing the citizens and so he sends centurion Marcus (Kevin Stapleton) out to capture the monster. This he does and returns the beast to Rome where it becomes a fixture at the Coliseum. The plot manages to turn Marcus into a gladiator while the Cyclops breaks loose and roams around only to get caught again after some mischief. Everything culminates in lengthy fight sequences at an unconvincingly recreated Coliseum.
In terms of acting, Eric Roberts is about the only person to rise above this production with any dignity intact - and that may be because he's playing another variant of his "evil" character that he's done a number of times over his career. Everyone else seems to stumble through this movie. It doesn't help that the dialogue is cringe-worthy, and that the plot introduces some rather strange elements. At one point, Tiberius and his henchman Falco (Craig Archibald) discuss the additions Falco is having built on his villa over dinner. Come on, home renovations? Is this really necessary in a movie like Cyclops?
Speaking of the Cyclops, the titular monster is a bit of disappointment. The awkwardly animated CG menace seems to be a hybrid of the Hulk from the Marvel Comics with Golem from the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but lacking neither the terror of the former nor the pathetic sadness of the latter. However, the one-eyed creature is worth a few laughs, and this unrated version of the movie throws in a fair amount of fake-looking blood as people have their limbs chewed off or their heads decapitated.
Everything about Cyclops adds up to another Sci-Fi Channel bad movie go-round. As is often the case with movies from Sci-Fi, Cyclops can be some fun when viewed from a "midnite movie" Mystery Science Theater 3000 approach. Rent it, if you don't have access to cable TV.
Anchor Bay gives Cyclops an anamorphic widescreen presentation in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio. Colors seem a tad muted, but otherwise details are strong and the visual quality is far better than what one might expect from a low budget production like this.
The lone audio track is an English language Dolby Digital 5.1 affair. The Cyclops creature grunts and growls way too loudly, with an unconvincing boom unwarranted by his presence, in the mix. Otherwise, the track sounds pretty good, with dialogue, sound effects, and the score coming across strongly.
Optional subtitles are available in English.
A trailer for Sands of Oblivion precedes the main menu. And that's it for extras.
Junky and juvenile, Cyclops has all the hallmarks we've come to expect from a Sci-Fi Channel production: substandard acting, dumb dialogue, and a poorly-conceived and executed CG-creature. A tad more bloodletting is about the only thing that differentiates it from the norm. If you've got a hankering for a Sci-Fi Channel Saturday afternoon monster flick, and you don't have access to the Sci-Fi Channel, then this should fit the bill as a rental.