Thursday, 4 February 2016

Jason and the Argonauts (2000)

In the original myth, when the Argonauts come to Lemnos and find it populated only with women, they spend two years in romantic dalliances.  Jason himself fathers twins with the queen of the island.  After swearing to her his eternal love and loyalty, he then sails off in search of the Golden Fleece ... and more royal ladies to whom he can make empty promises.

In this version, the Argonauts flee the island because the queen and her subjects plan to murder them all.  Which is just one of the times I was actively angry while watching it.  I mean sure, I get that you don't want to make your protagonist into the kind of colossal ass most mythical Greek heroes actually were, but perhaps a better option than "evil wimmins!" would have been to omit the sequence entirely.  It's not like there aren't other segments of the journey you haven't skipped.  We could have had the Talos sequence instead, for instance.  What movie isn't improved by a giant bronze automaton?

They probably skipped it because they didn't want to be shown up by this guy.

The mishandling of the Lemnos sequence is far from my only complaint with this miniseries, however.  Its selection of leading man leaves a lot to be desired.  Perhaps Jason London has qualities to recommend him other than sharing a first name with his character, but if so, this is not the script to show them.  He comes across as a weak and ineffectual person for much of the first half.  I know that "the hero growing into his responsibility" is a common arc, but it's a badly bungled one in this instance.

Also badly bungled is the skeleton warriors scene.  They were always going to struggle to measure up to the sequence from the 1963 film, but it's like they didn't even try.

My advice is to stick to the Harryhausen version.

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