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Imagine Thunderball with men in diapers
on June 1, 2009
I'm a fan of Mystery Science Theater 3000, but I was a little late to the Film Crew party. I heard about the series back when it was announced but for some reason it flew under my radar.
Recently I read some good reviews of the series, especially ones that compared it favorably to the seasons of the sci-fi channel run of MST3K. I decided to break down and pick up a couple. "The Giant of Marathon" was the second one I popped in.
I'm a fan of the Hercules episodes of Mystery Science Theater, so I figured this one would be right up my alley. However instead of a mythical epic, this is a historical epic detailing the turmoil in Athens leading up to the first battle with the Persians climaxing in the battle of Marathon. Now, I've read my Herodotus and I'm pretty sure that all the stuff that happens to Pheidippides in this movie didn't come from history.
In contrast to most of the Hercules movies most of the action in the film is loaded to the final third. For most of the first half or so you get lots of political maneuvering and dialogue. Now the movie is dubbed, so the voice acting is pretty lousy. This makes these long talky scenes particularly painful.
Once the action kicks in, things get better, with lots of laughs being generated by the horrific stage fighting, the horse abuse and the extended underwater battle that looks like "Thunderball" BC.
This movie appears to have a pretty large budget, so there are some impressive sets, costumes and lots of extras. The ship battle is probably the most impressive in scope. There are actually a number of ships on screen and lots of extras doing battle in and out of the water. It's fairly impressive to tell you the truth.
One of the strange things about the film is the fact that there are a lot of mostly naked men running around in it. Now, I know that most of the sword and sandal films have lots of oiled up half naked guys in them, but usually there is a voluptuous evil queen or sexy slave girl to balance it all out. Not so much in this film. Sure the main girl Andromeda is curvy and pouty, but she's hardly in the flick. Instead you get an extended scene of two hairy men wrestling or lots of underwater scenes with guys in what appears to be diapers swimming around. I'm not kidding.
Of course all this fodder give the Film Crew plenty of ammo for lots of homosexual humor. They end up going a bit overboard, but at the same time the movie seems to be really courting it. Seriously the amount of bare man flesh is really odd for a sword and sandal flick from the 60's.
For me this adds up to a pretty average outing for the Film Crew. The movie is pretty slow for the first half. They do a good job with what they are given, but it isn't until the battle of Marathon really kicks in that the jokes start flying. The last twenty minutes or so of the film are absolutely hilarious (even the scenes with the horse abuse. Warning to animal lovers, these look pretty brutal and while the Film Crew makes light of it, try not to think about it too much).
There are three host segments. The intro has the Film Crew discussing the film with Bob Honcho. During the lunch break Bill uses everyone's lunch to recreate the battle of marathon for Mike. Kevin is not amused. The finale has everyone creating super goofy hats (with Kevin's being the most disturbing of all), and Mike insulting ancient Persians.
This leads to the extras, which include Mike apologizing for insulting ancient Persians but insulting Italians instead. This continues with Mike digging a deeper and deeper hole for himself with Kevin and Bill trying to bail him out in the end. It's actually pretty funny. There is also a mini-commentary by an extra from the film (who sounds a lot like Mike). It starts off goofy and ends up going right over the top for some good laughs.
I have to admit it, I was a bit disappointed in this episode. I think my love of the Hercules episodes raised my hopes a little too high and the movie was just too slow in the beginning. Like I said the last 20 minutes are top notch material, but it's a little dull getting there.