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Jason And The Argonauts (2001)
Director: Nick Willing
review by Ian Shutter
Video release for the fantasy adventure broadcast on TV in two parts, at teatime over Easter bank holiday weekend 2001, Jason And The Argonauts is a laudable remake of the 1963 fantasy adventure - famed for its stop-motion effects by Ray Harryhausen.
This small screen adaptation of the ancient myths whips up a storm of heroism and striking visuals without managing to add much to the unsurprising formula, or detracting from the exalted status of the beloved original. Written very much as a rites-of-passage saga, this post-Star Wars version has a young Jason (played by the coincidentally named Jason London), just about holding his own with a starry supporting cast including Dennis Hopper - on fine form here, Natasha (Species) Henstridge, Frank Langella - surprisingly dismal compared to Hopper's emoting, Olivia (The Postman) Williams, and stalwart Derek Jacobi.
The Argonauts' quest for the Golden Fleece is, of course, only a part of nearly three hours of epic voyaging. Along the way they have encounters with harpies, seductive women, a mechanical bull, a ruthless king, and an impressive dragon. Greek gods Zeus and Hera appear, unimaginatively, as big giant heads up in the clouds while, unaccountably, it's the little subtle effects - like Eros popping up in the flames of a throne room's fireplace to shoot arrows of love at Medea (Jolene Blalock) - that are more pleasing and enjoyable than the spectacular monsters.
As you might expect from a TV mini-serial this has a predestined happy ending with soaring orchestral notes and snogs all round, both mortal and divine.
previously published online, VideoVista #26
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