Archive for Hades

Revisited: Hercules

Posted in Movie Reviews, Revisited with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 11, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

After imprisoning the Titans beneath the ocean, the Greek gods Zeus and his wife Hera have a son named Hercules. While the other gods are joyful, Zeus’ jealous brother Hades plots to overthrow Zeus and rule Mount Olympus. Turning to the Fates for help, Hades learns that in eighteen years, a planetary alignment will allow Hades to locate and free the Titans to conquer Olympus, but only if Hercules does not interfere. Hades sends his minions Pain and Panic to dispose of Hercules. The two succeed at kidnapping and feeding him a formula that turns him mortal, but fail to remove his superhuman strength before Hercules is found and adopted by the farmers Amphitryon and Alcmene.

Years later, the teenaged Hercules becomes an outcast due to his strength, and wonders where he came from. After his foster parents reveal the necklace they found him with, Hercules decides to visit the temple of Zeus for answers. The temple’s statue of Zeus comes to life and reveals all to Hercules, telling him that he can regain his godhood by becoming a “true hero”. Zeus sends Hercules and his forgotten infant-hood friend Pegasus to find the satyr Philoctetes—”Phil” for short—who is known for training heroes. The two meet Phil, who has retired from training heroes due to numerous disappointments, but Hercules inspires him to follow his dream to train a true hero who will be recognized by the gods. Phil trains Hercules into a potential hero, and when he is older, they fly for Thebes. On the way, they meet Megara—”Meg” for short—a sarcastic damsel who Hercules saves from the centaur Nessus. However, after Hercules, Phil, and Pegasus leave, Meg is revealed to be Hades’ minion, having sold her soul to him to save an unfaithful lover.

Arriving in Thebes, Hercules is turned down by the downtrodden citizens until Meg says that two boys are trapped in a gorge. Hercules saves them, unaware that they are Pain and Panic in disguise, allowing Hades to summon the Hydra to fight Hercules. Hercules continually cuts off its heads, but more heads replace them until Hercules kills the monster by causing a landslide. Hercules is seen as a hero and a celebrity, but Zeus tells Hercules he is not yet a true hero. Driven to depression, Hercules turns to Meg, who is falling in love with him. Hades learns of this and on the eve of his takeover, offers a deal that Hercules give up his powers for twenty-four hours on the condition that Meg will be unharmed. Hercules accepts, losing his strength, and is heartbroken when Hades reveals that Meg is working for him.

Hades unleashes the Titans who climb Olympus and capture the gods, while a Cyclops goes to Thebes to kill Hercules. Phil inspires Hercules to fight and kill the cyclops, but Meg is crushed by a falling pillar saving Hercules from it, allowing him to regain his strength. Hercules and Pegasus fly to Olympus where they free the gods and launch the Titans into space where they explode, though Meg dies before he returns to her. With Meg’s soul now Hades’ property, Hercules breaks into the Underworld where he negotiates with Hades to free Meg from the Styx in exchange for his own life. His willingness to sacrifice his life restores his godhood and immortality before the life-draining river can kill him, and he rescues Meg and punches Hades into the Styx. After reviving Meg, she and Hercules are summoned to Olympus where Zeus and Hera welcome their son home. However, Hercules chooses to remain on Earth with Meg. Hercules returns to Thebes where he is hailed as a true hero as Zeus creates a picture of Hercules in the stars commemorating his heroism

REVIEW:

Perhaps the most well-known figure in Greek mythology is Hercules. Disney decided to take a chance and turn this myth into an animated musical comedy. Some have said this was the end of the Disney renaissance, but I happen to think this film gets a bad rap.

What is this about?

In Disney’s animated take on Greek mythology, the heavenly Hercules is stripped of his immortality and raised on Earth instead of Olympus, where he’s forced to take on Hades and assorted monsters.

What did I like?

Irony. I’ve seen this film quite a few time, but it was pointed out to me a few minutes ago that it is a bit ironic that a film about Greek mythology relies heavily on gospel. The irony isn’t lost on me. As a matter of fact, I appreciate the chance they took with the gospel chorus. When you think of a Greek chorus, can you really imagine them not having that gospel thing going when they sing? I know I can’t!

Hades. James Woods owns this role of Hades, perhaps even more than he does when he plays himself on Family Guy. I was reading some background info and it turns out that some have compared his performance to Robin Williams’ genie in Aladdin, which is pretty high praise, if you think about it. Woods manages to play Hades as a comedic villain, but there is still that dark quality that most, if not all, Disney villains have.

Music and color. I’ve already mentioned the gospel tinges, but I have to bring up a couple of standout songs, “Go the Distance” and “I Won’t Say I’m in Love”. Neither are gold standards in the Disney lexicon like “When You Wish Upon a Star”, “Whistle While You Work”, “I Wanna Be Like You”, etc, but they are quite enjoyable. Personally, I love Meg’s heart wrenching ballad. Moving on to color, well, this is a very colorful film. Look at the gods, each of them is a different color. I wasn’t sure how I felt about this at first, but now I think I really like that creative decision. In a way, this is kind of a dark story, so juxtaposing it with the bright-colored residents of Olympus is quite the contrast.

What didn’t I like?

Gods. I feel like they could have given us more of the gods. Perhaps I’m a bit spoiled from the Kevin Sorbo’s Hercules: The Legendary Journeys TV show, but it just seems as if Herc should have encountered some of his brothers and sisters, or at the very least, had regular run-in with Zeus. That would have been better than the freaky statue coming to life.

Character design. I’m not sure where I fall on the design of these characters, and that isn’t a good thing. On the one hand, I applaud the design of Hades, Philoctetes, etc., but on the flipside young Hercules, Megara, and some of the lesser gods just weren’t doing it for me. At first, I thought perhaps they were going for a look that resembled Grecian writing, but now it just seems like the animators just experimented with a style that didn’t work as well as they thought it would.

CG. In Hercules’ first heroic deed, or one of his firsts, he battles the dreaded Hydra. For some reason, animators decided that the Hydra needed to be CG, but I honestly could not tell you why. Other than the part where he suddenly has a gazillion heads because Hercules hadn’t figured out that chopping its head off only creates more, it could very well have been hand drawn. The animators just got lazy, which is why everything animated these days is CG. GRRR!!!

While not the crown jewel in the Disney collection, Hercules provided audiences with lots of fun. I really don’t understand why people seem to be so down on this flick, but they are. I highly recommend that you give this a shot! It is a Disney animated musical, you don’t get much better than that, now do you?

4 out of 5 stars

Wrath of the Titans

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 25, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Ten years after defeating the Kraken, Perseus (Sam Worthington), the demigod son of Zeus (Liam Neeson), now lives as a fisherman with his 10-year-old son, Helius (John Bell) and has been widowed by the death of Io. One night, Perseus is visited by Zeus, who tells him that the powers of the gods are fading and the walls of the underworld prison of Tartarus are breaking due to the lack of devotion from humans. Zeus states they will need armies to combat the threat, but Perseus shows little interest and refuses to get involved.

Afterwards, Zeus travels to Tartarus to meet with his brothers Hades (Ralph Fiennes), Poseidon (Danny Huston), and his son Ares (Edgar Ramirez). He tells Hades they must forget the past and unite to rebuild Tartarus’ walls, but Hades rejects his offer and orders his minions to attack. They fatally injure Poseidon, and Ares betrays Zeus by taking him prisoner and stealing his Thunderbolt. In an exchange to remain immortal and powerful, Hades and Ares plan to drain Zeus’ divine power to revive Kronos, the father of Zeus, Hades, and Poseidon. They capture and hold Zeus prisoner in chains and the walls of Tartarus break, unleashing monsters into the world.

After slaying a Chimera that attacks his village, Perseus takes Helius to the Mount of Idols, so they can speak to Zeus, but the dying Poseidon arrives instead. He informs Perseus that Hades and Ares are holding Zeus in Tartarus, and tells him to meet with his demigod son Agenor (Toby Kebbell) to find the fallen god Hephaestus, who knows the way into Tartarus. Poseidon then gives Perseus his Trident before succumbing to his injuries and crumbling into dust. Perseus flies on Pegasus to the campsite of Queen Andromeda’s army. The queen is the princess Perseus saved a decade ago; Andromeda (Rosamund Pike) has imprisoned Agenor for stealing crown jewels, but Perseus negotiates his release by asking the reluctant Agenor to come along in their plan.

Perseus, Andromeda, Agenor, and a group of soldiers set out at sea to find Hephaestus, with Agenor explaining that Hephaestus created the three great weapons that Zeus, Hades, and Poseidon wield: Zeus’ Thunderbolt, Hades’ Pitchfork, and Poseidon’s Trident, and that together they form the Spear of Triam, the only weapon that can defeat Kronos. Agenor uses Poseidon’s trident to direct the boat to Hephaestus’s island, where they encounter three Cyclopes: Brontes, Steropes, and Arges, who attack them. When Perseus shows them the trident, they lead the group to Hephaestus (Bill Nighy), the smith god. He explains that he has a map to navigate the path though a deathly long labyrinth leading deep into Tartarus. He leads them to the door to the Labyrinth, where they are attacked by Ares, who found them after one of the soldiers, Korrina (Lily James), prayed to him. Ares is jealous of Perseus’ honor from his own father Zeus and kills all of the soldiers while Hephaestus opens the door and then sacrifices himself so that Perseus, Andromeda, and Agenor can enter the door before it closes.

Agenor tries to use the map to direct them, but the Labyrinth continually shifts and at one point nearly crushes them. Perseus gets cut off from the group and encounters and kills the Minotaur before finding that he is in the exit of the labyrinth to Tartarus. Eventually, the group manages to reunite and find Kronos becoming powerful. Meanwhile, Zeus has been almost entirely drained of power as Kronos starts to awaken. Zeus apologizes to Hades for banishing him to the Underworld and asks his forgiveness, as he has forgiven Hades for his actions. Though initially surprised, Hades has a change of heart and decides to help Zeus and stop Kronos, but Ares is still angry with his father and Perseus intervenes. Perseus arrives and uses the Trident to free Zeus. As they are escaping, Ares throws the Pitchfork into Zeus’s back, thus mortally wounding Zeus. To escape the charging Kronos, Perseus and Zeus use their powers to teleport them back to the Tyrene pass, where battle plans are made.

Perseus, Andromeda and Agenor carry a weakened Zeus down to the base of the mountain where Andromeda’s army is gathered. Although the Trident and Pitchfork are now in his possession, Perseus still needs the Thunderbolt from Ares to have the power to defeat Kronos. Perseus intentionally prays to Ares, challenging his brother to a final fight at the Temple of the Gods, which Ares happily accepts.

At the temple, Perseus finds out Ares has kidnapped Helius, who was brought to watch Perseus die in the fight. Ares easily overpowers Perseus, before pushing him into the ruins in the temple, but is distracted when Helius secretly tries to challenge him by pointing a sword at him, giving Perseus the chance to strike back anew. After a struggle, Perseus kills Ares with the Thunderbolt and combines the gods’ weapons into the Spear of Triam.

Meanwhile, Andromeda’s army is overwhelmed by Kronos’ army of demonic Makhai, but Hades arrives to revive Zeus. He and Hades reconcile, and Hades shares some of his immortality with Zeus, making Hades older and Zeus younger, and together they use what power they have left to defeat the Tartarian army. Kronos then appears and begins to attack the human army with lava and fire. Zeus and Hades attack him, giving Perseus the opportunity to fly down into Kronos’ throat and pierce the weapon into his heart. Kronos lets out one last blast to try to kill the two, but Zeus jumps into the way, pushes Hades and takes the explosion.

Perseus meets with Zeus and Hades; a fatally wounded Zeus advises Perseus to use his power wisely, stating that the time of the gods is over. He thanks Perseus for his bravery before finally turning to dust. Hades is now mortal, his powers spent, though he states he might be better off as such before heading off to parts unknown. Perseus reunites with Andromeda and kisses her as they prepare for possible Titan reprisal. Knowing that there are still monsters to fight, Perseus decides to train Helius to be a soldier and build a new kingdom

REVIEW:

I don’t know who it was that decided to start this remake fad, but they need to be tortured to the point they are teetering on death! I’m talking medieval stuff, people! What brings on these dark thoughts? Well, Wrath of the Titans is a sequel to a remake of one of the greatest sword and sandal flicks I’ve seen. A sequel that no one was really clamoring for, mind you, and it was still made…in 3D!!!

What is this about?

The film picks up about 10 years after the previous film. Perseus is now living the life of a simple fisherman with his son. One day he is visited by his father, Zeus, who tells him that Hades is trying to release the Titans and he needs his, along with another demigod, Agenor, son of Poseidon, to stop them. As one can guess, Perseus is none too thrilled about this offer and refuses to get involved until a Chimera attacks his village. With the aid of Andromeda and her men, Perseus tracks down Agenor and they head off to see Hephaestus in an attempt to find a way into Tartarus. Hephaestus tells them that the only way in is through the nigh unsolvable labyrinth, which he built with only one way out. When they reach Hades, they free Zeus, but are attacked by Hades, who is now consumed with carrying out the plan Hades started. Will Perseus and company be able to stop him?

What did I like?

Action. In Clash of the Titans (2010), they seemed to leave out all the action in favor of boring dialogue. This time around, they learned from their mistakes and upped the ante. The added emphasis on the action really made this much more enjoyable.

Bubo. In the last film, Bubo, the owl from the original Clash of the Titans, made a quick cameo, but the character was replaced by Gemma Arterton’s Io. She didn’t come back for this one, but Bubo makes a couple of appearances which I found as a nice gesture of respect towards the original, especially since this is a film that, quite frankly, has nothing to do with the original anymore.

Build-up. The way the filmmakers built up Kronos, not really revealing him until the last act made it that more impactful when he does appear. Couple that with his demonic minions (the things you saw wrecking havoc in the trailer) and the obvious degeneration of the world at the time and I was sold.

What didn’t I like.

Perseus. Sam Worthington may have taken a few acting lessons since the last film, but he still has a way to go before he can stop seeming so wooden on the screen. Even in the tender moments with his son and Zeus, I didn’t feel any different emotions from him that what I felt when he was fighting enemies or dodging the dangers of the labyrinth.

Hephaestus. Kudos for making him the slightly schizophrenic smith god that we know him to be. However, I have to say casting Bill Nighy and then killing him off so quickly was quite pointless.

Comic relief. I will never complain about the use of comic relief. We can always use a laugh now and then. They brought in some comedy this time around and it works, but the characters that bring in this comedy aren’t used as well as they could be and Perseus, in my opinion, should not be cracking jokes. It just doesn’t fit his personality.

Wrath of the Titans is a much improved outing than its predecessor. More action and less drama is the formula to use in this sword and sandal genre. Who ever it was that made the first film should have known that. No, this isn’t a great picture, but I would be more willing to see this again than its predecessor. Neither compares to the original, though. Do I recommend it? Sure, it is a good action flick.

3  1/3 out of 5 stars

Clash of the Titans (2010)

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 28, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Long ago, three Olympians—Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades—battled the Titans. Hades provided their means of defeating the Titans with his creation, the Kraken. After the Titans’ defeat, Zeus created land-animals (including humans) and ruled them while Poseidon ruled the sea and its creatures. But Zeus deceived Hades and forced him to rule the Underworld. Zeus and his fellow gods on Mount Olympus rely on the prayers of humans to sustain their power.

Millennia later, a fisherman named Spyros finds a coffin adrift in the sea. In it are infant Perseus and his dead mother, Danaë. Spyros raises Perseus as his own son. Years later, the adult Perseus and his family are fishing when they witness a group of soldiers from Argos destroying a massive statue of Zeus as a declaration of war against the Gods. Hades takes the form of harpies to massacre the soldiers. In the battle, Perseus’ family’s fishing boat is destroyed, killing all except Perseus. The surviving soldiers take Perseus back to Argos. During a feast for the returning soldiers, King Kepheus and Queen Cassiopeia of Argos compare themselves and their daughter Andromeda to the Aphrodite, much to their daughter’s dismay. Having convinced Zeus to punish Argos, Hades appears in the courtroom, kills the remaining soldiers and ages Cassiopeia to the brink of death. Recognizing that Perseus is the Demigod son of Zeus, Hades threatens that if Princess Andromeda is not sacrificed to the Kraken, Argos will be destroyed in ten days. Hermes, the Messenger God, informs Zeus that Perseus is in Argos and suggests offering him sanctuary. Zeus refuses.

The King imprisons Perseus because he will not fight with Argos against the gods. Io, a woman who does not age as punishment for refusing to be seduced by the God Ares, reveals to Perseus’s true lineage: in order to punish King Acrisius for his war on the Gods, Zeus seduced Danaë while disguised as Acrisius and impregnated her. When Acrisius set Danaë and the baby Perseus adrift in their coffin, an enraged Zeus struck Acrisius with lightning, leaving him hideously disfigured. After learning that killing the Kraken would allow him to have his revenge against Hades, whom he blames for Spyros’s death, Perseus agrees to lead Argos’ finest soldiers embark on a quest to find the Stygian Witches. They are joined by a pair of hunters named Ozal and Kucuk; Io follows as well. Hades finds Acrisius, now called Calibos, and reveals his plan to use the Kraken to destroy Argos and thereby weaken Zeus and gain his revenge for his betrayal after the Titan battle. Hades imbues Calibos with superhuman powers in order to kill Perseus.

While in the woods, Perseus discovers a sword forged in Olympus, as well as Zeus’ sacred herd of flying horses, the Pegasus. However, Perseus refuses both the sword—which only he can use—and Pegasus that the Gods were offering as assistance, as he does not wish to become a God. Calibos attacks the group and tries to murder Perseus, is forced to flee after Draco cuts off his hand. However, Calibos’ blood forms giant scorpions from the sand that attack Perseus and his group. Though they slay several scorpions, most of the group are slain, and the survivors are surrounded by more of the monsters. They are saved by the Djinn, a band of shamans once human, who have turned themselves into the Demons of Arabian mythology by replacing their earthly flesh with ash and stone, thus making them immortal. The mysterious beings are able to hypnotize the scorpions into submission. Though not trusted prior to healing Perseus’ wound, the Djinn leader, Sheikh Sulieman, joins Perseus’ group as the Djinn also wish to see the Gods overthrown.

The heroes arrive at Garden of Stygia, learning from the Stygian Witches that the head of the Gorgon Medusa could kill the Kraken by turning it to stone. When they tell Perseus his group will die in the process, all of the Djinn except for Suleiman to leave them. Perseus is visited by Zeus who offers him asylum on Mount Olympus, but he refuses. Zeus gives him instead a golden drachma, which Perseus later learns is a means to bribe Charon for passage into the Underworld. In the battle with Medusa, only Perseus survives to behead her. Emerging from the Underworld, Perseus sees Calibos stab Io from behind. Perseus kills him using the sword from Olympus, which restores Acrisius to human form. Perseus stays with the dying Io until she passes on and flies away in gold dust to Olympus. He then rides Pegasus back to Argos with Medusa’s head to find some of Argos’ citizens have formed a Cult of Hades and are planning to sacrifice Andromeda to the Kraken. As the Kraken is released, Hades reveals to Zeus that the destruction of Argos will give him enough power to overthrow the other Olympians, but Zeus reveals Perseus is still alive in Argos.

Although Hades tries to use his harpies to kill Perseus, he uses the head of Medusa to turn the Kraken into stone and rescue Andromeda. He then uses the sword of Olympus, amplified by with Zeus’ lightning, to banish Hades back to the Underworld. Andromeda asks Perseus to become king of Argos, but he declines. Zeus again offers Perseus sanctuary, but Perseus rejects this as well. Warning that Hades will someday return, Zeus resurrects Io and disappears.

REVIEW:

Let’s get one thing out of the way…as any avid read of this blog knows, I HATE REMAKES!!!! However, Clash of the Titans didn’t leave me feeling dirty the way that the remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still did.

If I wouldn’t have known this was a remake of the early 80s classic Clash of the Titans, then I might have actually liked it a bit more…maybe. As it is, though, this remake does what they all do, and that is take out the fun and whimsy that makes the original so great and replace with darker, more depressing themes and CGI effects.

For instance, let’s take Perseus, in the original, he is a prideful, reluctant hero, as he is here, but not so much that he refuses assistance from the Gods which inadvertently causes the death of some soldiers. That is some of today’s thinking, where we don’t want help from anyone. Also, would it have hurt these people to use Bebo? Come on, seriously, the mechanical owl was one of the best parts of the original, yet they totally eradicated his character, except for a quick cameo near the beginning, which sort of felt like they were making fun of it. I’m assuming they meant Io to replace him, and while she was an upgrade in terms of looks and all, she just doesn’t compare.

Continuing with the lack of whimsy, one of the biggest things that I felt was missing was the chess game the gods play with the humans in the original. Where was this? I read that the filmmaker thought this was stupid and juvenile. WTF?!? They need to get over themselves. The game was severely missed, as it played more of an integral part to the plot than one would imagine until it is gone.

I also have to wonder where were the statues that came to life and spoke? Let me guess, the filmmakers thought this would have been too unrealistic, right? As if a the Kraken, Medusa, and just about everything else is real. Ugh!

I can’t comment on the 3D conversion of this film, as I say it in the comfort of my own home, as opposed to in the theaters, but I hear that it actually looks better in 2D.

Let me just touch on the plot here for a second, it is not the same as the original, but from my understanding, it is closer to the source material. You can make the case that is a good or bad thing. For me, it didn’t work. I’m of the belief that if you’re going to change stuff, then change it, don’t change select parts and leave the rest the same. That would be like putting a brand new modern tires on an old car while you just get refurbished parts for the rest of it. Sure it may work, but there is just something odd about the whole thing. That is the same feeling this film brought me. 

On top of that, the whole Calibos this seem to have been taken out. I mean, he’s in there, but it only for like two scenes, the one where he’s introduced and the other where he attacks the soldiers…oh, and there’s the last one where he and Perseus have their final confrontation. Much different than the original where he is THE major villain.

The action scenes here are a true highlight of the film, to be sure, but they seem…I dunno…a bit too rehearsed. Sort of like a fight you would see on a theater stage, as opposed to just a rough and tumble brawl, especially the whole Medusa scene. That just felt like an elaborate dance.

Speaking of Medusa, and pretty much all the creatures in this flick, you can say that CGI is better than stop-motion animation, but I will not agree with you. There is just something to stop-motion that makes it better, perhaps it is the fact that someone actually took the time to work with their hands instead of just moving a mouse around pressing some buttons.

The Kraken didn’t impress me the way it should have. I mean, this thing is supposed to be a big bad creature that strikes fear in the hearts of men. Now, I’m not talking about the fact that it is CGI, because the second and third Pirates of the Caribbean films had no issue with that, but rather the fact that they had this thing in the first trailer for the film. What makes the Kraken such a force is its mystique. In the original film, you barely hear about it, except for a mention in the beginning that sends them on the quest for Medusa’s head. I think this Kraken was a victim of the studios desperate attempt to gain a fanbase for this film. As we all know, people like me who hate remakes, are not likely to see their favorite films bastardized if they can help it.

The cast of this film is ok, but not great.

I’m not sure if I agree with having such great actors as Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes in such medial roles. Well, Neeson is filling the shoes of Sir Laurence Olivier, but Fiennes seems like he’s still in Voldemort mode, but without the makeup. Nothing wrong with that, but this is a totally different character, can’t he come up with different mannerisms?

Sam Worthington seems to be the new go-to action star. The problem is, this guy seems to play the same character. I mean, he played Perseus the same way he played Jake Sulley in Avatar. The only difference is that he was speaking with his natural Australian accent. I didn’t know that the Greeks spoke like that, did you?

Gemma Arterton light up the screen everytime she appears as Io, the beautiful protector of Perseus. Her performance leaves a bit to be desired, though, but seeing as how, as I said earlier, she is replacing a mechanical owl for the most part, I can overlook that, not to mention, she is drop dead gorgeous.

I went into this film with an open mind, but this remake further proves why I think they need to stop making them. The love for the original is there, as is the respect for those of us that share that affection, since they tried to keep much of the original story, however, the changes they made ruined the whole story and made a completely different, unenjoyable film. If not for the action scenes, which aren’t as good as some would have you believe, this thing would be much worse than it is. Having said that, it doesn’t suck, and I won’t lose any respect for you if you decide to check it out. My personal recommendation, though, is to stick to much more enjoyable original, rather than this subpar, average, bastard offspring of it. Can you belive they’re making a sequel to this mess?

3 out of 5 stars

Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 27, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

At the top of the Empire State Building, Poseidon (Kevin McKidd) meets with Zeus (Sean Bean), who comments that the storm clouds have no lightning and that his master bolt has been stolen. He blames Poseidon’s son for the theft. Despite Poseidon’s claims of his son’s innocence, Zeus gives Poseidon 14 days to return it, lest war break out.

During a field trip to an exhibition of Greek and Roman art, teenager Percy Jackson (Logan Lerman), is lured away from the crowd by a Fury disguised as his substitute English teacher, who then attacks him, questioning him about the lightning bolt. The incredulous Percy, who has no knowledge of this, is rescued by his Latin teacher, Mr. Brunner (Pierce Brosnan). After dispatching the Fury, Brunner gives Percy a magical pen. On Brunner’s instruction, Percy’s best friend, Grover (Brandon T. Jackson), takes Percy to a training camp for demigods, Camp Half-Blood, along with Percy’s mother, Sally Jackson (Catherine Keener). During their trip to the camp, Percy attempts to learn about his biological father from Sally, but they are attacked by a Minotaur. Although Percy and Grover, who is revealed to be a satyr, make it to the camp, its defenses prohibit entrance to Sally, who is captured by the Minotaur, and disappears before Percy. Percy engages the Minotaur with the magical pen, which turns into a sword named Riptide, eventually killing the creature with one of its horns.

In touring Camp Half-Blood, Percy learns that Brunner is the mythological centaur Chiron, and the camp’s trainer, and that his father is the god Poseidon. He also meets Luke Castellan (Jake Abel), the son of Hermes, and Annabeth Chase (Alexandra Daddario), the demigod daughter of Athena. While at the camp, Percy learns that water has the power to heal his injuries, and allows him to manifest his magical abilities.

Hades later appears and reveals that Sally Jackson is his prisoner, and proposes she be traded for the master bolt. Chiron instructs Percy not to bargain with the demon, but to go to Olympus to convince Zeus of his innocence. Percy sneaks away from the camp to travel to the Underworld, along with Grover and Annabeth, who secure for him from Luke a portable shield, flying shoes and a map to Persephone’s (Rosario Dawson) pearls, one of which will reveal the exit from the Underworld when retrieved.

At Aunty Em’s Garden Emporium, the trio are attacked by Medusa (Uma Thurman), but manage to decapitate her, and take the pearl from her bracelet. They also take her head, which they later successfully use against a hydra that attacks them during their acquisition of another pearl from the crown of a giant statue of Athena at the Parthenon replica in Nashville, Tennessee. They acquire the third and final pearl from a roulette wheel at a hotel casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, in part with help from Poseidon, who aids them against Lotus Eaters. The map reveals an entrance to the Underworld in Hollywood, California, beneath the Hollywood Sign.

The trio enter the Underworld, where, after traveling across the River Styx, they encounter Persephone, who takes them to Hades. Percy attempts to explain to Hades that he is not the lightning thief. During an ensuing melee, Percy drops his shield, whose handle conceals the missing master bolt, which Hades takes. However, the trio manage to reacquire it before escaping the Underworld with the rescued Sally. They are transported to the top of the Empire State Building, which they learn is the location to the entrance to Olympus. They are confronted by Luke, who reveals himself to have been the real lightning thief. Expressing his desire for a new generation of rulers to take over Olympus, he explains that he had hoped that the trio would not have escaped the Underworld alive, and after stealing the bolt from Percy, the two engage in battle. After using his water powers to dispatch Luke, Percy arrives in Olympus, where he presents the retrieved bolt, and reveals the truth about Luke. Poseidon explains to Percy the reason why they could not know each other during Percy’s childhood, but expresses his love for his son. Percy returns to Camp Half-Blood, where he resumes his training. After the end credits, a scene shows Sally forcing Gabe out of their apartment, and as he goes to get a beer from the fridge, opens it only to be turned to stone because Medusa’s unprotected eyes are staring right back at him.

REVIEW:

I’ve always been fascinated with mythology, but with the release of this and the upcoming (unnecessary) remake of Clash of the Titans, as well as my recent addiction to the God of War games ($10 for both at Gamestop…what a steal…until I found out they can be bought together…lol), it has been ratcheted up.

In a manner similar to Harry Potter, I have yet to read these books, but I will be changing that before the next film is released.

When I saw the initial trailer for this film this summer, I didn’t know what to think or make of it, but when a more detailed one came out this fall, it made more sense and piqued my interest. After watching this afternoon, I must say it wasn’t too shabby, but not without its faults.

First of all, the story is pretty cool. Think about it, almighty Zeus has his lightning bolt stolen and automatically accuses Poseidon. Not quite sure why. Seems to me, the #1 culprit would be Hades, but maybe that would make too much sense. Sean Bean doesn’t scream Zeus to me. Sure, he has that medieval look about him and all, but not Zeus. He could have pulled of Poseidon or one of the other gods, but for Zeus, I envision an old guy with a booming voice and all that jazz.Of course, he could be described a different way in the books, so I’ll leave that alone.

Percy seems to be your typical teenager, for the most part. Angst ridden and all. I really wish Hollywood would stop with these Zac Efron look-alikes, though. They’re almost as bad as every actress in Hollywood that thinks they have to be super skinny and blonde . The character of Percy as the picture goes on, though, goes up and down. At one point he is confused, the next he’s cocky, the nest he feels the weight of the world on his shoulders. All this is well and good, except that I didn’t get these emotions from this kid.

The actress that plays Annabeth is quite beautiful. Megan Fox better look out, she has some competition. Seriously, as far as actual acting goes, she doesn’t have much to work with here, but she is a presence that is much needed and welcome, and you just know that somewhere down the line she and Percy are going to hook up. The tension is there and the foundation was laid in that final scene.

Steve Coogan as Hades…what can I say, but no. Um, this guy is a comedic actor. He seems like he was trying to channel a bit of James Woods’ Hades as well as sprinkle a bit of hisself in there. That wasn’t the problem for me, but rather, the goatee. Yes, the goatee was my biggest problem with him. I don’t know, some men just shouldn’t wear facial hair and Coogan is one of them. Yeah, that’s a little thing, but it really took away from his performance for me.

There are many who say Uma Thurman is one of the most beautiful women in the world. I’m not one of them, but I do get the irony in having such a beautiful woman play Medusa. As am atter of fact, if I’m not mistaken, Medusa is a beautiful woman before Athena puts the curse on her, so it makes sense, if I have my mythology right. All that aside, Medusa in every film is never on-screen that long. This is no exception, she ends up getting her head chopped off maybe 5 minutes after we first see her, but her head is seen throughout the film.

Rosario Dawson and Brandon T. Jackson…look, I’m not going ot beat around the bush. Look at the rest of the cast, then look at these two. Can we say quota. Not to take anything away from them. Jackson brings some much needed comic relief and Dawson is hot as hell, but I can’t help but think they were brought in to add some color.

Pierce Brosnan seems like he is in pain throughout this film, sort of like he doesn’t want to be there, but came into work for the paycheck. Having said that, though, I think his character is one that, if this becomes a franchise will rival that of Hagrid in the Harry Potter films. He’ll be that loved.

For me, this film took itself too seriously. I mean, aside from Grover, everyone seems to be acting like they’re in some Academy Award nominated drama. That is far from the case. For goodness sakes people, have some fun with this thing. I’m really surprised about this, especially considering that Chris Columbus, who directed the forts couple of HArry Potter films, is the director. Rumor is that they are working on a second one to be released in 2012. Hopefully, they’ll lighten up by then.

This is a perfect film for this lull between the holidays and summer. It isn’t quite a blockbuster, but it isn’t all artsy-fartsy, either. It blends action and heart, while at the same time providing the audience with some good entertainment. The scenery is beautiful at the camp and the CGI monsters aren’t too shabby, but could be better. Having said that, I belive if this becomes a franchise, we’ll look back at the faults and chalk them up to this being the first film. Is it worth watching? Most definitely, but don’t expect to see perfection, just go in and expect a pretty good flick about gods and stuff in modern day.

4 out of 5 stars

Wonder Woman

Posted in Action/Adventure, Animation, Movie Reviews, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 22, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Centuries ago in Ancient Greece, the Amazons, a proud and fierce race of warrior women, led by Queen Hippolyta, battled Ares, the God Of War, and his army. During the battle, Hippolyta beheaded her son, Thrax, whom she conceived with Ares, as she sees the child as a curse forced upon her by his father, and then defeated the God Of War himself. Zeus, king of the gods, prevented them from killing Ares. Instead Hera, queen of the gods, bound his powers with magic gauntlets so that he was no more powerful than a mortal and that only another god could release him. In compensation, the Amazons were granted the mystical island of Themyscira, where they could be eternally youthful and isolated from Man in the course of their duty of holding Ares prisoner for all eternity. Later as a personal boon, Queen Hippolyta was granted by the Gods a daughter of untold beauty, grace and strength: Princess Diana.

Years later, an American fighter pilot, Steve Trevor, is shot down in a dog fight that kills his squadron and would have included him but for the fact that someone deliberately disrupts the magic cloaking field hiding the island at that moment. As a result, Trevor crash-lands on the island and is soon defeated by Diana in hand-to-hand combat and captured by the Amazons. When Hippolyta decides he should be returned home, Diana volunteers for the task only to have her mother assign her to guard duty at Ares’ cell instead. At the scholarly Alexa’s suggestion and her offer to substitute for the princess at the dungeon, Diana defies her mother and wins the right to be the Amazons’ representative to the outside world. Meanwhile, Alexa is promptly murdered by her guard mate, Persephone, whom Ares had focused on charming for a century for this opportunity to escape and exact his revenge with her help.

Now with the additional task of capturing the fugitives, Diana brings Trevor to New York City where the officer volunteers to help the princess find her quarry. After an initial investigation uncovers a pattern of violence created by his presence that could lead them to Ares if given time to develop, the pair decide on a night out at a bar while they wait. After some heavy drinking in which Trevor underestimates Diana’s tolerance for alcohol, he drunkenly makes a pass at her which infuriates the Amazon into thinking that he was trying to seduce her. In the resulting argument outside, they are accosted first by street thugs trying to rob them and then the demigod, Deimos, who is out to kill Diana. While Deimos kills himself upon his defeat to prevent from being interrogated, they find an important clue on his body that leads them to a ancient temple guarded by the worshipers of Ares.

Once there, Diana attempts to subdue Ares, but he summons monsters that snatch and threaten to kill her, prompting Trevor to save her over her insistence of him stopping Ares. Meanwhile, Ares takes advantage of the heroes’ distraction to perform a human sacrifice to open a gate to the underworld where he successfully persuades Hades, the God of the Underworld, to remove the gauntlets. Later in a hospital that Trevor transported her to, Diana regains consciousness and is furious that Trevor forfeited his chance to stop the war god for her sake. Trevor argues against her abuse with his own criticism of the Amazons’ isolation and their generalizations about Men and his admission of his deep affection for her. Regardless, they agree to resume the godhunt.

Unfortunately, Ares has assembled an army of mortals and monsters and has marched on Washington, DC with a rally at the Lincoln Memorial to declare a war on all humanity. The U.S. military is about to attack them in response, but the troops are spotted by Ares’ forces and struck first. Trevor and Diana arrive to battle the villains, and are soon joined by the Amazons led by Hippolyta herself who has decided to intervene in force. Meanwhile, the U.S. President learns of the appearance of Themyscira and his advisers mistakenly conclude this is the cause of the magic invaders and advise it be destroyed. The President, who’s influenced by Ares’ power, agrees and orders a nuclear missile launch against the island, unaware the powerful psychic energy from this act of supreme aggression is exactly what Ares wants to become strong enough to conquer not just Humanity, but the Gods themselves.

Thus empowered, Ares resumes his battle with Diana who finds herself hard pressed, while Trevor takes Diana’s invisible jet to pursue and stop the missile. Unfortunately, the Amazons in Washington have more immediate problems when Ares summons their own deceased numbers to attack them and every enemy they kill adds to their own numbers. This undead army includes Alexa as well and she attacks her sister, Artemis, but while she does so, she repeats some cryptic phrase that her sister, realizing vaguely what she is doing, repeats. In doing so, Artemis casts a magic spell that frees the Amazon dead from Ares’ control and they turn on the war god, although he quickly neutralizes them. Nevertheless, Diana uses the distraction to regain the initiative, but even this is shortlived as Ares now has the power to call down lightning on her and does so. Meanwhile, Trevor shoots down the missile while Hippolyta confronts Persephone and kills her, but not before the traitor suggests the disquieting idea of how the Amazons have stagnated.

Finally, Diana defeats Ares by turning his magic against him and weakening him enough for her to behead him. With that, Ares’ army disperses while his magically influenced aggression dissipates as the Government realizes the Amazons saved the nation. Meanwhile as the heroes cheered, Hades agrees with the sentiment with the gain of now having the spirit of Ares as his minion along with his son.

Back on Themyscira, Hippolyta realizes that Diana profoundly misses both the outside world and Steve Trevor. In response, she charges her daughter to become a diplomat for the Amazons in the world of Men. Diana gratefully accepts and she returns to the world of men where she enjoys the company of Trevor and assumed a secret identity as Diana Prince. However, their relationship comes with the understanding of her larger duties such as when she sees The Cheetah robbing a bank and she excuses herself to stop the supervillainess as Wonder Woman.

REVIEW:

Every comic book fan has been waiting….and waiting…and waiting..waiting some more…still waiting…for a Wonder Woman movie. Last I heard they were moving forward with a script, but it is still in limbo. In the meantime, this animated version will have to suffice.

I’m not very well-schooled in Wonder Woman lore, but I know the basics, so the fact that this is an origin story really interested me and made sense since, to my knowledge, Wonder Woman hasn’t had her own feature since her 70s TV show.

The action scenes are a thing of beauty, but be warned, they are a bit more mature than you would expect.

I was a fan of the Justice League cartoon that came on Cartoon Network, but one thing I noticed was that Wonder Woman all but abandoned her equipment, except for her bracelet. This goes for every incarnation since then. Luckily, the invisible jet, which appears to have been upgraded to a SR-71 Blackbird , and the lasso of truth were used thoroughly.

Voice casting in this film was pretty good. I’m not sure I care for Keri Russell as Wonder Woman, though. Nothing against her, it’s just that Lucy Lawless’ vocals seemed so natural in Justice League: The New Frontier.

The use of Diana’s feminist views and Steve’s emasculation works really well, and serves as some of the funniest parts of the film.

Wonder Woman doesn’t have an extensive rogues gallery the way Batman does, which may be a reason why a feature film hasn’t been made yet, so finding the perfect villain had to have been a chore. Choosing Ares was a wise choice, as was teasing us with The Cheetah at the end if the film. Will there be a sequel? I hope so!

Wonder Woman is not Batman or Superman, but chances are when one thinks of DC superheroes she is the next one in line. This is a good film ,especially for girls, because every superhero film up until now, with the exception of  Elektra, have been all male. Of course, males are going to enjoy this, especially a nice little waterfall bathing scene. After you watch, though, you’ll be wishing for a sequel or the live action film to hurry into production.

4 out of 5 stars

Hercules

Posted in Animation, Disney, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 23, 2008 by Mystery Man

 

Disney’s take on the legend of Hercules. This movie is reminiscent of the classics but not quite up to their standards.

PLOT:

The film begins with the five gospel-singing Muses, “Goddesses of the arts and proclaimers of heroes”, telling the story of how Zeus came to power and prevented the monstrous Titans from ruling the world. This leads to the day Hercules (voice of Tate Donovan) is born to Zeus and Hera, much to the pleasure of all the other gods except Hades, who receives word from the Fates that Hercules will one day rise to power and prevent him from taking control of the world. Hades sends his minions, Pain and Panic (a duo reminiscent of Ares’s mythological sons, Deimos (dread) and Phobos (fear), to kidnap Hercules and feed him a potion that will strip him of his immortality; however, they are interrupted and, while Hercules becomes mortal, he retains his god-like strength (for the potion to fully work, Hercules had to drink every last drop, but missed one when they were interrupted).

Hercules grows up to be a misfit, challenged by his incredible strength and inability to fit in with other people. His adoptive parents finally tell him they found him with the symbol of the gods around his neck. Hercules believes the Gods may have the answers behind his mysterious past and decides to go to the Temple of Zeus. Zeus appears and tells him that he is Hercules’ father, and that he must prove himself a true hero before he can join the other gods on Mount Olympus. Along with his flying horse Pegasus, Hercules goes to Philoctetes, an unhappy satyr who has failed to train a true hero yet; he decides to take on Hercules as his final attempt.

After training with Phil (his preferred name), the three of them attempt to save the beautiful Megara, or Meg, as she identifies herself, a damsel in distress, from Nessus, a centaur. A smitten Hercules barely succeeds and Meg returns to the forest, where she is revealed to have sold her soul to Hades in order to save her lover’s life; her lover abandoned her and now Meg must do favours for Hades in order to avoid an eternity in the underworld. When Hades learns that Hercules is alive, he is enraged and plots to murder him again.

When Hercules tries to prove himself a hero at Thebes, Hades sends the Hydra to kill him. After a lengthy battle, he prevails by using his strength to cause a landslide. He soon becomes a national, multi-million-dollar celebrity as a result. Realizing that his plans are jeopardized, Hades sends Meg out to discover Hercules’ weaknesses, promising her freedom in return. Hercules is disappointed to learn from his father Zeus that he has yet to become a true hero, and then spends the day with Meg, who finds herself falling in love again. When Hades intervenes, she turns from him, much to his dismay.

Phil learns of Meg’s involvement with Hades and tries to warn Hercules, who ignores Phil and knocks him to the ground in an outrage. Discouraged, Phil leaves for home. Hades arrives along with a captured Meg and makes Hercules a deal: If he surrenders his strength for the next twenty-four hours, Meg will remain free of harm. After making the deal, Hades frees the Titans from their prison and sends them to attack Olympus. One Titan, however, the Cyclops, is sent to kill Hercules. Phil talks to Hercules, and pushes him to “go the distance”. Hercules uses his wits to defeat the titan and save the city of Thebes. During the Titan’s rampage, a column starts to fall. Hercules was right underneath it, and Meg pushes him away from it. The column falls and ends up hurting Meg. As a result, the deal is broken and Hercules’ strength is returned. When Hercules asked Meg why she would risk her life for him. She replied, “People always do crazy things when they’re in love”. Touched, Herc promises Meg that she won’t die. Hercules, along with Pegasus, saves Olympus from certain doom and Hades returns to the underworld. Meanwhile, Meg dies of her injuries; her thread of life cut by the Fates.

Hercules arrives and demands for Meg to be revived, but Hades shows him that she is currently trapped in the River Styx, a river of souls where all the dead go. Hades allows Hercules to trade his soul for Meg’s, hoping to return Meg’s body to the surface of the river before he is killed. Hercules jumps in and as his lifeline is about to be cut by the Fates, his amazing courage and willingness to sacrifice his life for others prove him a true hero, restoring all his godly powers and rendering him immortal. As he successfully returns Meg to the surface, Hades tries to talk his way out of the situation. Hercules punches him, knocking him into the River Styx. The other souls grab Hades and pull him down into the stream. Hercules revives Meg and goes to Olympus, but when Meg’s entrance is denied, Hercules chooses to become mortal and stay on Earth with her. Hercules is acclaimed a hero on Earth and Olympus alike, Zeus creates a constellation in his image and Phil is remembered for being the one to train him.

REVIEW:

As far as Disney films go, this one is above average. Not the greatest, but definitely far from being sub-par. It holds true to the musical roots instead of going the route of other films such as Atlantis, Black Cauldron, and to a lesser extent Treasure Planet.

The plot has its holes, but like many movies based on legends, it jumps around from interpretation to interpretation as well as adding some pop culture references (which are very comical).

I’m not sure if I care for the 3D creature that were used. They seemed like they were just thrown in, of course, this was released in 1997, so it could just be that I’m not thinking of the limitations technology had back then.

Not my favorite Disney fim, but it’s up there.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars