Archive for medusa

7 Faces of Dr. Lao

Posted in Classics, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 11, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

It is the dawn of the 20th century, and an elderly Chinese man rides a jackass into Abalone, Arizona, his only visible possession a fishbowl occupied by an innocuous-looking fish. This magical visitor, Dr. Lao (Tony Randall), visits Edward Cunningham’s (John Ericson) newspaper and places a large ad for his traveling circus, which will play in Abalone for two nights only.

Though quiet, Abalone is not peaceful. Wealthy rancher Clinton Stark (Arthur O’Connell) has inside information that a railroad is coming to town and is scheming to buy up the place while the land is cheap. Cunningham, who is also romantically pursuing the town’s librarian, Angela Benedict (Barbara Eden), a beautiful young widow still grieving the death of her husband, opposes Stark’s power grab.

After doing some research, Cunningham visits the circus site that has sprung up at the edge of town and confronts Lao with the fact that Lao’s alleged hometown vanished centuries before. Lao deflects Cunningham’s questions and he “leaves in a cloud of befuddlement”.

That night there is a town hall meeting to discuss the proposition to sell all of the town to Stark. It becomes apparent, largely through the obsequious deference paid to Stark by Mayor Sargent, and the objection of old maid Mrs. Cassan to questions from Cunningham and his love-interest, Angela Benedict (sitting nowhere near him), that greed has possessed most of the town’s citizens and they are just one step away from selling out.

Dr. Lao’s enigmatic entrance, however, and the sound of the chair he pulls back scraping the floor, momentarily catch everyone’s attention, and are a forerunner of changes to come.

Mr. Stark’s premise for selling the town is that its 16-mile long water supply pipe from a neighboring town is decaying and would be too expensive to replace. His answer to Angela’s inquiry as to why he’s interested in the town, then, uses the analogy of her ability to turn a bad child into a good one; he is a businessman and knows how to turn a bad venture into good. More detail he does not give.

Cunningham introduces everyone to George C. George, a Navajo Indian who lives in “another city, close to our own”, and points out that the lives of its residents depend on Abalone’s continued existence.

Stark reluctantly allows the townspeople to ponder their choice “until Friday night” and the meeting is adjourned.

After the meeting, Stark’s henchmen assault George C. George, and Dr. Lao uses his magic to rescue him.

The next morning, as Lao puts up posters around town advertising his circus, he is assisted by Angela’s young son Mike (Kevin Tate), who learns that the mysterious wanderer is 7,322 years old.

The circus opens its doors, and the townsfolk flock in. Along with the main cast, the gawkers include Luther Lindquist and his shrewish wife Kate, and Mrs. Cassan, a foolish widow who clings to her self-image of a young beauty. Lao uses his many faces to offer his wisdom to the visitors, only some of whom heed the advice. Mrs. Cassan has, to her dismay, her dark future pretold by Apollonius of Tyana, a blind prophet who is cursed to tell the absolute truth, no matter how cruel and shocking it may be. Apollonius tells her she will never be married and will live a lonely, meaningless existence, having accomplished so little she might as well have never lived at all. Stark has a disquieting meeting with the Great Serpent, Mike befriends the pathetic Merlin, and Angela is aroused from her emotional repression by Pan’s intoxicating music. After Medusa turns the disbelieving Kate Lindquist to stone, Lao calls an end to the proceedings as the guests flee. Merlin appears, restoring the woman to life, her experience causing a much-needed reformation in her character.

Later that night, Mike visits Lao and tries to get a job, displaying his novice juggling and conjuring skills. Lao instead offers some advice and observations about the world (“… the whole world is a circus, if you know how to look at it …”), which Mike doesn’t understand, and Lao claims to not understand either.

Meanwhile, during the show, Stark’s two henchmen have destroyed the newspaper office. Cunningham and his pressman discover the devastation, go drown their sorrows, then stagger back to learn that the damage has been magically repaired by Lao. They rush out an abbreviated edition of the paper, which Cunningham delivers in person to Stark.

The next night, Lao stages his grand finale, a magic lantern show in which the mythical city of “Woldercan,” populated by doubles of the townfolk, is destroyed when it succumbs to temptation personified by Stark (as a sort of devilish tempter). The show ends in explosions and darkness, but as the house lights gradually come back up, the townsfolk find themselves now in a town meeting, voting on Stark’s proposal. They reject it, and a redeemed Stark tells them about the coming railroad while noting that they owe a debt of gratitude to Lao. A dust-storm blows up, and as the townsfolk scatter, Angela opens up to Ed, finally admitting that she is in love with him.

Stark’s henchmen are confused by their boss’ apparent change of character and decide to trash Lao’s circus in a drunken spree, during which they break Lao’s fishbowl. The inhabitant is revealed (to the accompanying sound of bagpipes) to be the Loch Ness Monster, which balloons to enormous size when exposed to the open air. After it chases the two thugs into the storm (and temporarily grows seven heads to resemble the seven faces of the inhabitants of the circus), Mike alerts Dr. Lao and then helps conjure up a cloudburst to wet and thus shrink the beast back to its original size.

Morning comes and the circus is gone, leaving a red-colored circle on the desert floor. Mike chases after a dust plume, which he thinks is made by Lao, but only finds three wooden balls. He is able to juggle them expertly. The closing scene shows the disappearing Dr. Lao riding his donkey over a nearby rise as his voice-over repeats his advice to Mike from two nights earlier, reminding Mike that the Circus of Dr. Lao is life itself, and everything in it is a wonder

REVIEW:

I noticed today that there is a Ray Harryhausen documentary on Netflix streaming which I need to watch at some point. In the meantime, I was in the mood for some stop-motion this afternoon and they had recommended 7 Faces of Dr. Lao a while back, so what better time to watch it than now, right?

What is this about?

In the most remarkable role of his career, Tony Randall plays six characters in this fantasy adventure about a mysterious Chinese doctor who assumes different guises in order to teach his message of pride and self-reliance. Enigmatic circus showman Dr. Lao gives the denizens of a sleepy Western frontier town the chance to peer into a looking glass and see their foibles.

What did I like?

Oddly enough. I recently found out that Tony Randall’s career was mostly The Odd Couple and starring with Jayne Mansfield in a couple of her bigger films, such as Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? I can’t say that I’m too familiar with his work, but the few projects that I have seen him in are impressive. Here, he plays the titular character, as well as 6 others and a cameo as himself later on in the film. Dr. Lao and Merlin are his most impressive characters, followed by Apollonius, but these are the only ones that speak. Pan dances, Medusa stares, the Abominable Snowman sells popcorn, but the serpent is more of a visual spectacle than a good character. I wasn’t able to pay attention to him, though, because of some internet issues that were going on that required me to call my cable/internet provider. That point aside, Randall shines as he lets himself go and have fun playing these different characters that are far different from the straight-laced, uptight guys he normally plays.

I Dream of Jeannie. There are two classic tv shows that I will always go out of my way to watch, no matter how many time I see each episode, and they are I Love Lucy and I Dream of Jeannie. Barbara Eden is quite the looker. There was a picture floating around a few months back where she, a woman in her 80s these days, was back in her old Jeannie costume. She didn’t look half bad in it, either. She wasn’t cast in this film for her looks, though, as she gets to showcase her talent for acting, something we all forget she can actually do, and perhaps the reason she didn’t go on to become a bigger star.

Learn. It is obvious that whoever did the special effects on this watched some Ray Harryhausen flicks in their day, because the creatures have the distinct look about them, rather than just some generic stop-motion creation. These creatures not only have the menacing look to them, but also a life of their own. This is something that Harryhausen was able to do with his creations, and apparently he has passed it down to a new generation. Keep your eyes out for the final trick of the Loch Ness monster!

Use. I have to say that I wasn’t expecting to see the creatures used for the entire film. Usually, when it comes to creatures in these type of films, we get a glimpse of them during the early scenes, but don’t really see them until the final scenes. Thankfully, the filmmakers were smart enough to realize that these creatures were the focal point of this film.

What didn’t I like?

Mariann. As I was watching, I couldn’t help but notice that Barbara Eden’s character almost paralleled Mariann from The Music Man. There were some differences, but for the most part they were the same character. I’m not sure which came first, or if that was even done on purpose, but I wasn’t a fan. Leave Mariann to her own devices.

Attitudes. The book that this is based on was a tad bit more biting in terms of it satire of the society at the time. I loved it, but what is it that I didn’t like? Well, the attitudes of the people, and the fact that, whether you want to believe it or not, these same attitudes exist today. I just heard some lady on the news insisting that Santa Claus “just is” white. *SIGH* When will people open their minds to new things?

Merlin. Maybe this is because I’ve recently started watching Merlin episodes on Netflix, but the fact that he was made to be an absent-minded sorcerer. This is no different from most iterations, but the one that usually is constant with him is that he is capable of competent magic. I felt that he was holding back. No need to show off for the local yokels, but when the little boy showed, I thought for sure he would have done something special. Mayhaps I’m just overthinking, though.

If you’re in the mood for some good, clean, classic sci-fi fun with some stop motion thrown in there for good measure, then 7 Faces of Dr. Lao is the film for you. In some places, this is places in the category with the likes of Old Yeller, Bedknobs & Broomsticks, and the like. It isn’t violent, no foul language, and is quite family friendly. I say give this a chance. You never know, it could be something you enjoy!

4 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

Clash of the Titans

Posted in Action/Adventure, Classics, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 20, 2008 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

King Acrisius of Argos expresses anger towards Zeus for impregnating his daughter, Princess Danae. He then casts Danae and her infant son Perseus out to sea in a wooden chest. Unknown to everyone, a white bird who witnessed everything was really Poseidon, who informs Zeus of Acrisius’ unfaithfulness. Zeus orders Poseidon to release the Kraken to destroy Argos by flooding the entire kingdom. While Acrisius and his kingdom are left completely devastated, Danae and Perseus are safely brought to the island of Seriphos where they live a happy life and Perseus grows up to manhood.

Calibos – the spoiled son of Thetis, the goddess of the Sea – was a handsome young man destined to marry Princess Andromeda, the daughter of Queen Cassiopeia and heir to the rich city of Joppa and eventually all of Phoenicia. Zeus entrusted Calibos to care for the Wells of the Moon; Calibos instead hunted, trapped and killed everything that lived there, including Zeus’ sacred herd of flying horses, leaving only the stallion Pegasus alive. As punishment, Zeus transforms Calibos into a monster and he is shunned and forced to live as an outcast in the swamps and marshes. Thetis, furious at her son’s fate, vows that if Calibos cannot marry Andromeda, then no other man will either.

Perseus is brought by Thetis from his island home on Seriphos to Joppa. He learns of Andromeda and her plight: she cannot marry unless her suitor successfully answers a riddle, which is given to her by Calibos. Any suitor that fails to answer the riddle correctly is burned at the stake. Using a number of gifts given to him by the gods, including the winged horse Pegasus and a helmet given to him by Athena that renders its wearer invisible, he discovers the answer to the riddle. Calibos nearly captures him, but Perseus cuts off his hand with a sword (another divine gift, this one from the goddess Aphrodite).

At the next ceremony for a new suitor, Perseus enters, answers the riddle correctly and presents Calibos’s severed hand, winning Andromeda’s hand in marriage.

At the Temple to Thetis, Calibos prays to his mother Thetis to take vengeance on Perseus for cutting off his hand. Thetis tells Calibos that she cannot do that because Perseus is protected by Zeus, but she can take vengeance on Joppa.

At the wedding, held in the temple of Thetis, Queen Cassiopeia compares Andromeda’s beauty to that of Thetis herself, which angers the goddess. The statue of Thetis collapses and its head comes to life demanding Andromeda as a sacrifice to a sea monster (the Kraken, a modern addition to the myth; the Greek version had Cetus as the sea monster) in 30 days, and still a virgin; otherwise, the Kraken will destroy Joppa.

Perseus seeks a way to defeat the Kraken, the last of the Titans, who were the race of monsters that pre-dated the gods. When Zeus commands Athena to give Perseus her owl, she instead orders Hephaestus to build the mechanical owl Bubo as an aid for Perseus. Bubo leads Perseus to the Stygian Witches, three blind women who disclose that the only hope of survival in combat against the Kraken is by using the head of another monster, Medusa the Gorgon. Medusa was once a beautiful woman but, because she dared to make love with Poseidon in Aphrodite’s temple, was transformed by Aphrodite into a horrible monster. Meeting Medusa’s gaze will turn any living creature to stone, including the Kraken. She makes her home on the Isle of the Dead, which lies across the River Styx, at the very edge of the Underworld. Perseus travels there and kills her, removing her head, though he must contend with Calibos (who has replaced his lost hand with a trident-like blade) along the way – whom he finally kills with Aphrodite’s sword.

Just as Andromeda is about to be sacrificed to the Kraken, Perseus appears astride Pegasus and turns the Last Titan to stone with Medusa’s head, which is then cast into the ocean where it can do no more damage. Perseus frees Andromeda and they live happily together. The hero and heroine become constellations at the decree of Zeus, who does the same for Pegasus and Cassiopeia.

REVIEW:

Last week, I reviewed Jason and the Argonauts. Clash of the Titansis similar in scope to that film. It may even be the better film. In comparison, this has the better monsters, but Jason had the better plot.

I don’t have much criticism for this movie, other than the first hour seemed to take forever to get going and is a bit confusing in parts. Other than that, this is a very entertaining picture, especially if you love stop-motion animation and Greek mythology.

Sadly, I belive this is the last of the stop-motion pictures. That alone should be enough of a reason to watch, right?

I can’t believe they “have” to re-make this. On top of that, they want it to rated ‘R’! What is this world coming to, when a good film like this can’t be left alone. Is no one capable of independent thought anymore? Trust me, there are plenty of bad Greek mythology movies that could do with a remake. Why mess with one of the good ones?

4 out of 5 stars