Saturday, October 16, 2010

Just watched...

…an unintentional double feature of the same story: “Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief” and the newest remake of “Clash of the Titans.”

Based on a popular series of books for children, “Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief” is a film for children as well. It has a cute storyline, some very good special effects (the effect for satyrs with human upper bodies and animal legs has come a long way just since Mr. Tumnes in 2005's “The Chronicles of Narnia”), and a big-name cast featuring Sean Bean (“Lord of the Rings” trilogy) as Zeus, Kevin McKidd (HBO’s “Rome” ) as Poseidon and Uma Thurman as Medusa. It’s cute enough in a predictable way. It follows a modern day Perseus—a young man named Percy, in honor of the original Perseus, who is the son of Poseidon and a human mother—as he slays Medusa, defeats the Hydra, escapes from the Lotus Eaters and infiltrates Hades to rescue his mom.

“Clash of the Titans,” the 2010 remake of the 1981 film of the same name follows the original Perseus from Greek mythology as he slays Medusa, battles giant scorpions, and defeats the Kraken, a deadly sea monster created by Hades, God of the Underworld. The digital special effects are light years away from anything in the original film which unfortunately featured unintentionally comical stop motion puppetry—but hey, that’s what they had to work with then. This cast features Liam Neeson as Zeus, Ralph Fiennes as Hades (with a nose this time!—shout out to Voldemort!), and Sam Worthington (“Avatar”) as Perseus. It was a good time, but also predictable.

But of course it was predictable to me since I have loved Greek—and Roman myths—since I was a young child. My mother had a book—I don’t know where she got it or why, since she wasn't really interested in such things—called THE STORIES OF THE GREEKS. I started to read the adventures of the mythological figures of Greece at an early age and was captivated by them. This led me to check out more and more books about Greek mythology on our weekly visits to the library. And of course when I found out that the Romans worshipped the Greek pantheon under different names, I was fascinated, and had to read all about them as well: I spent hours learning the Greek vs. Roman names for all the deities. I even made a family tree of the Greek gods and how they were related using my crayons on that large-format scratchy manila paper kids used then. I taped it to the wall above my bed.

I still have that old copy of THE STORIES OF THE GREEKS and I get it down from the shelves of my library often to reference a particular figure or adventure. I treasure it…thanks Mom!

Recommend the films? For your eleven year old boy, yes, he will enjoy “Percy Jackson.” For you, you might enjoy “Clash of the Titans”—or you might not. See it only if it is something that attracts you. Otherwise, move on.

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