We had four films lined up on our Historically Inaccurate Movie smörgåsbord. The following reviews were aided by live tweets, snappy one-liners and heaps of sugar. This is a bit of a long read, my apologies in advance!
The first order of business was Wrath of the Titans, the sequel to the 2010 mythological disappointment Clash of the Titans. Basically, Perseus is charged with rescuing his father, Zeus, from Hades and Ares. Hades is killing his brothers to channel their divine power into resurrecting the Titan Kronos. Perseus must travel to the Underworld, aided by Andromeda, Hephaestus and some extremely stupid Greek soldiers.
Running time: 99 minutes
Director: Jonathan Liebesman
Inaccuracies vs. The Mythology
- Tartarus is seemingly in the middle of the Underworld vs. “as far below the house of Hades as the earth is below the heavens”
- The house of Hades is made of lava vs. a cold, desolate world surrounded by water (Styx and Oceanus)
- Hades, Poseidon and Zeus are estranged brothers due to Zeus forcing Hades to rule the Underworld vs. Zeus freeing his brothers from Kronos and the brothers drawing lots to determine the realm they will rule
- The gods were able to enter the Underworld vs. nothing still living shall enter the Underworld
- Chimeras had dragon wings vs. lion with the head of a goat, with a tail (possibly ending with a snake head), and breathes fire
- Andromeda was a warrior woman vs. rescued by Perseus, marries him and lives with him at Mycenae
- Perseus was married to Io and had a son named Helios (what the serious fuck?) vs. Perseus marrying Andromeda and having 7 sons and 2 daughters together, while also founding and ruling Mycenae
- Cyclopes were used as guards on Hephaestus’ private island vs. being craftsman and herders
- The origin of the Labyrinth being created by Hephaestus as a gate to the Underworld vs. the Labyrinth built by Daedalus as a prison for the Minotaur at Knossos
- Hephaestus knows the route to the Underworld vs. Hermes being the only god, other than Hades and Persephone, who know the route as he is the one who channels the dead there
- The Minotaur guarding the route to the Underworld vs. Cerberus guarding the gates of the Underworld
- Using Aspis shields for phalanx formation vs. larger, longer shields appropriate for the period
- The Spear of Trium (made of Zeus’s Lightning Bolt, Poseidon’s Trident and Hades’ weird Pitch Fork) being the only weapon that can kill Kronos vs. the gods cannot be killed; there is no such thing as “The Spear of Trium”; the word “Trium” would be Latin, not Greek; Zeus had a Thunderbolt, Poseidon had a Trident and Hades has a Helmet of Invisibility (all used to defeat the Titans)
- Ares’ weapon of choice is a mace vs. a sword, a spear, a shield or even a flaming torch (pick one)
- Four-armed Hekatonkheires vs. one hundred-armed and fifty-headed Hekatonkheires
- Roman and Norse weapons, armour and formations vs. this should not have to be explained
Aside from this film being riddled with historical and mythological inaccuracies, it was also dull. At least they decided to move away from the monochromatic colour scheme of Clash but it was still just another action movie. The CGI already looks dated and the sound balancing made it almost impossible to hear some of the dialogue. Once again, this had close to nothing to do with the actual mythological Titans. Kronos was on screen for all of 15 minutes, maybe.
My rating: 2½/5
Buy or rent Wrath of the Titans on Amazon.
The Legend of Hercules was by far the funniest of the films. Unintentionally so. We found ourselves in hysterics largely due to our inability to hear the dialogue. Unlike, Wrath of the Titans, we were unable to hear anything due to a number of very strong accents among the cast. As a result we decided to fill in our own dialogue.
As the title says, this is the alleged genesis story of the demi-god Hercules.
Running time: 99 minutes
Director: Renny Harlin
Inaccuracies vs. The Mythology
- Amphitryon purposefully killing the King of Tiryns vs. accidentally killing Aclmene‘s father and seeking purification
- Amphitryon’s rejection of Hercules and the murder of Alcmene vs. raising Hercules with the best tutors (many of which were gods) and having a wife that honoured him like no other
- Alcmene turning to the goddess Hera for help vs. Hera hating Zeus’ countless affairs and punishing Hercules by trying to kill him
- Iphicles’ (Hercules’ half-brother) jealousy vs. the brother who died in battle and whose own son became Hercules’ charioteer
- The killing of the Nimean Lion as a chance encounter vs. The Twelve Labours of Hercules as an amends for killing his wife (Megara) and children from a temporary madness caused by Hera
- The source of Hercules’ strength is that he is the son of Zeus vs. Hera’s being tricked into nursing the infant Hercules and her divine milk giving him his power
- Hercules being outcast by his father and sold into slavery by his brother (for gladiatorial games) vs. being raised lovingly be Amphitryon and eventually sold into slavery (not gladiatorial games) by Apollo for the murder of Iphitus at Tiryns
- Hercules’ lover Hebe betrothed to his brother vs. Hebe being Hercules’ sister and no arrangement of her marriage to Iphicles exists
- Alcmene calling Hercules Alcides to hide his true name from Amphitryon vs. his parents dropping the epithet Alcides from his name, to unsuccessfully appease Hera
- Being the origin story of a Greek hero named Hercules vs. his Greek name Herakles
- Roman and Egyptian weapons, armour and formations vs. I shouldn’t have to explain why this is incorrect
- Hercules chained in the Agora vs. this was actually Samson from the bible
- Hercules’ lightning whip vs. his usual club, bow and arrows
Everything about this movie was bad. The lack of clear dialogue, the special effects and terrible acting. The mythology was changed for no tangible betterment of the film. If we had not been half delirious from our sugar rush, I’m not sure we would have been able to finish this monstrosity. I have no idea why Hercules was made into a gladiatorial fighter, other than the filmmakers wanting to show off their 3D filming techniques. The only thing that was correct for the time period was the statues of Hera.
My rating: 1/5
Buy or rent The Legend of Hercules on Amazon.
Truly, the dark horse of the day, Gods of Egypt far surpassed our expectations and was the least offensive when it came to historical and mythological inaccuracies.
Set has essentially stolen the throne of upper and lower Egypt from Horus by killing Osiris. After years of blindness and isolation, Horus accepts the help from a mere mortal in overthrowing his uncle.
Running time: 127 minutes
Director: Alex Proyas
Inaccuracies vs. The Mythology
- Demons in the afterlife vs. that’s not really a thing in Egyptian mythology
- Hathor being seduced by darkness into her role at the usher of the dead vs. being the “mistress of the west” was a great duty revered by mortals
- Hathor being the Egyptian version of Aphrodite vs. Hathor being the goddess of female (motherly, sisterly) love and companionship (Though she was likened to Aphrodite by the Greeks, the Egyptian did not incorporate this into their beliefs)
- Hathor’s bracelet shielding her from being taken back into the Underworld vs. no such item every existed
- Thoth being sassy (though great as comic relief) vs. Thoth being very factual and precise
- Hathor’s ability to control any living creature with her eyes vs. not present in any versions of her mythology
- Isis dying with Osiris, and not once turning into a throne vs. only Osiris’s death is mythologically correct
- A largely white cast of Egyptian gods vs. this should be obvious
This was an interesting stylistic version of Egypt and its mythology. The list of inaccuracies is substantially smaller the previous movies because the filmmakers made it very clear that this is meant to be an almost alternate history. Having said that, the individual gods mythologies and their purposes were largely adhered to, except Hathor, which is the problem with her characterisation. I understand her narrative changing for purposes of the plot but it was unnecessary on the whole. James and I absolutely loved the characterisation and styling of Anubis, and that he was not depicted as an evil or negative god/deity. Similarly, the idea of the rich being granted everlasting life was a fantastic inclusion as at one point in Egyptian history this was thought to be the case. Ra and his celestial battle with Apep was stunningly represented, as well as the world disc. One of my favourite entities was the Sphinx.
It was a fun movie to watch, and it clearly had an enormous budget. The CGI was great and I especially like the gods’ “true forms”, even though everything was gold. The casting was great, as the actor are all good actors, except Elodie Yung. She was just annoying. It annoyed me that the only black actor was automatically the sassy, black character. It was cliched and tired. I would have liked to see more people of colour in this movie but that’s an issue for another day. All-in-all though, this was a fun watch, from an historical, mythological and film perspective.
My rating: 4/5
Buy or rent Gods of Egypt on Amazon.
In keeping with the Egyptian theme, we decided to round our day off with Exodus: Gods and Kings. What a complete crock of shit.
Let me also just get this bit of controversy out of the way before I start: there is no record (other than the bible) or archaeological evidence that 2 million Jews (based on the figure of 600 000 males) left Egypt during that time depicted in the bible. For this reason, I am referring to the story as mythology. It still holds important cultural and religious meaning, just as any other peoples’ mythologies do.
Running time: 150 minutes
Director: Ridley Scott
Inaccuracies vs. The Mythology
- White buildings and statues in Egypt vs. Walls and statuary being colourfully painted
- Miriam and Jochebed living with Moses in the palace, as his servants vs. Moses raised by the Pharaoh’s daughter
- Moses hitting his head on a rock and then talking to a child and a burning bush vs. Moses’ tending a flock and hearing a voice call to him, finding the burning bush and speaking with the angel
- The God of Abraham represent by Malak in the form of a child beside the bush vs. an angel of the Lord appearing inside the burning bush to speak to Moses
- The cause, number and order of the plagues (no lice and no raining fire) vs. ten plagues in order caused by the Lord, who was making Pharaoh refuse to let the Israelites go
- No negotiation with Pharaoh vs. Moses asking Pharaoh to let his people go each day
- No snake vs. Aaron taking instruction from the Lord and casting his staff onto the ground in front of Pharaoh and his men, and it turning into a snake
- The Red Sea moving aside for the wayward travelers, while Moses slept vs. Moses parting the Red Sea with the help of the Lord
This was a boring movie to watch. Epic in scale and as shiny as Gods of Egypt the movie felt empty, slow and lacklustre. The changes to the biblical account of the Exodus worked against the film. In fact, Ridley Scott made it seem like the entire Exodus was the result of a Traumatic Brain Injury or severe hallucinations. I also couldn’t understand why this weird blue filter was used for the entire film. When everything wasn’t blue, it was gold. Fundamental elements of the story was changed for the film, like the absence of Aaron (Moses’ brother) in negotiations with Pharaoh and Moses’ sister and mother living in the palace with him. Further, I haven’t a clue as to why it was sub-titled “Gods and Kings”. The “Kings” I get but the “Gods” not so much. I saw one angry child, who alternated between representing the Lord and the angel Malak, while the Egyptian gods were nowhere to be seen. I will say that Isaac Andrews gave a spectacular performance. That kid is going places. Other than that, there is no real reason to watch this movie.
My rating: 2/5
Buy Exodus: Gods and Kings on Amazon.
And that was our Historically Inaccurate Movie day. Many people will argue that mythologies cannot be incorrect as they are just made up stories anyway. What many people do not realise is that to the civilisations to whom those mythologies belong, they were considered historical accounts of the foundations of their civilisation and empire (Rome – Romulus and Remus), they were biographies of, then considered, historical figures (Herakles and Achilles), they were often the basis for religious practice (The Elusinian Mysteries), and the creation stories of their time (Gaia and Oceanus – Greek, and Nun and Chaos – Egypt), meaning that they can only be altered within reason.
For more movie reviews by TropicalMary, click here.
As the three people who follow this blog may have noticed, I haven’t been around to publish a movie review since last July. It’s been sad, since I really have missed being on here as much as I once was.
Unfortunately, adult life got in the way – apparently after you finish a Masters degree you need to go out and do things like get a real job and pay rent. This can greatly distract from the amount of time that was previously dedicated to watching awful movies (which, in turn, was previously used to take up time that should have been spent doing research).
The upside to finishing major degrees, however, is that you suddenly find yourself with a lot of free time that you wouldn’t have previously thought possible – being able to read an entire novel in less than 9 months, for example. So, as time went on, the blog suffered as a new and exciting life kicked into place for me.
The problem with all of that is that I genuinely enjoy blogging; it’s just that I have found it incredibly difficult to maintain this one. It served a purpose, and now that time has come to an end and I just don’t feel like watching a never-ending-stream of terrible movies any more.
To that end, I have decided to launch a new blog: A World of Weird. This allows me a fresh start – I still plan on reviewing awful movies (the love for that particular hobby certainly hasn’t died, it’s just made friends with some new hobbies), but now I can deal with a lot of other things (music and books of the same standard as many of the movies I’ve watched, for example 😉 ).
A World of Weird is still very much a work in progress, but I hope that I can have as much fun with it as I used to have with this one. To the people I met on this Blog, I hope you’ll pop over and see the new one. If not, thanks for the great conversations and fun suggestions, and all the best for your blogs!
For those of you are interested, the 9th Annual South African Horrorfest will be kicking off tonight with a screening of Insidious 2. With so many new and wonderful additions to this year’s event, please have a look at the links below:
Official site: www.horrorfest.info
RSVP at: www.facebook.com/events/588115171248119
Book on-line: www.quicket.co.za/horrorfest
Join the group at: www.facebook.com/groups/SouthAfricanHorrorFest
Follow on Twitter: www.twitter.com/SAhorrorfest
Like the Makabra Ensemble page at www.facebook.com/MakabraEnsemble
Makabra site: www.terminatryx.com/makabra
Tropical Mary out!
WHAT IT’S ABOUT:
If I’m being totally honest, after AE: Apocalypse Earth, I was feeling a little fragile. My inner sci-fi geek can take a lot, but that movie gave me a fair beating. Nevertheless, I’m not one to turn down an epic mockbuster, and Atlantic Rim was just too great an opportunity to pass up. So, with Tropical Mary, Stygian Mole, The Occult Specialist, and our new friend Ms Misery in attendance, we sat down to watch this movie. My my my my my. I don’t know anything about Pacific Rim, so this movie had to sell me with only what it had to offer. What might that be, you ask? Well, it has the usual terrible CGI, atrocious acting and cheap sets that one would expect from an Asylum production, but it also has some of the most ADD-ridden editing I’ve ever seen in a film. I know it’s sci-fi, but good God not everything can teleport that quickly! Needless to say, though, this movie is a ton of fun, although I would recommend watching it on the tail-end of a movie night so you have the benefit of mild delirium to cover up some of its not-so-great moments.
Deep at the bottom of the Atlantic ocean lurks one of mankind’s greatest threats: giant amphibious dinosaurs with backwards knees! No seriously, how these things can walk is a marvel in itself. No one knows where they’ve come from or how they’ve managed to survive down there for so long without any of us noticing, but they’re about to start wreaking all kinds of havoc. The first sign of their existence that we experience is when one of them, with no provocation and unknown intent, leaps up from the sea floor to destroy an oil rig. Apart from a quick and somewhat greasy lunch we don’t know why they are suddenly deciding to attack now, and no one back on land knows what happened to the oil rig / ate its crew, so it’s up to the military to fall back on some half-baked, untested battle plan to solve this maritime mystery.
The plan? Send 3 gigantic robots worth $500 billion down to the ocean floor to see where the hell the oil rig went and what the hell may have dragged it down there. These robots will be piloted by the best pilots the program’s remaining $15 worth of budget could find. Decked out in what appear to be wetsuits held together by pieces of coloured duct tape, White Douche, Token Black Guy (aka TYREESE!) and Generic Blonde descend to the bottom of the Atlantic to check things out. The mission is plagued with problems – the control room in the bots becomes sweltering after descending more than 3 feet into the ocean, they’re controlled using what appears to be joysticks from old arcade machines, and they tend to shut down at random (this, for some reason, also sucks all of the available oxygen out of the robot’s interior), so it’s all rather slow going. Oh yeah, and there’s that giant monster floating in the background trying to eat them.
The violence quickly escalates from this point – the monster appears on land, we’re treated to half-a-dozen shots of the monster looped and mirrored maybe 20 times, and suddenly there are dead people everywhere. Why? We’re not really sure. Now, it becomes obvious that the American Government can’t just allow these beasts to run around Manhattan, but the team’s divided. Admiral Hadley, the head of some-or-other division, throws his full support behind the robots. The opposing faction, headed up by a man with an eye-patch whose speech patterns clearly indicate that he has recently recovered from a stroke, proposes nuking the monsters (although the word, when he says it, ranges anywhere from ‘puke the monsters’ to ‘fluke the monsters’). With these two factions at war, Generic Blonde and TYREESE! being innately useless, White Douche being super douchey, and the robots themselves leaving a bit to be desired, does mankind really stand a chance against these backward-kneed behemoths? Watch and be completely whelmed by the whole experience!
LIFE’S LESSONS LEARNED:
- It is possible for oil rigs to become dislodged from their bases, float around in the ocean, and crash into Iraq.
- You should always wear self-tan to a review board meeting.
- The best mankind-protecting-robot is one that’s commanded by someone with a lot of experience in Tae Bo.
- Every secret military base should be equipped with at least 100 horns.
- The more squint the monster, the greater the threat it poses to us all.
- No matter what the emergency, a woman’s eye-shadow should always be unfaltering.
- Nothing says ‘time for a drink’ more than blowing up $500 billion worth of military equipment.
ATLANTIC RIM TRAILER
WHAT IT’S ABOUT:
As of late, my inner sci-fi geek has been awakened with a vengeance since I started watching Syfy’s Defiance (if you haven’t seen it, you owe it to yourself to check it out). So, in the spirit of different worlds being invaded by extraterrestrials and technicalities that require physics PhDs in order to follow the plot, I decided I’d give The Asylum’s AE: After Earth a spin. The cover looked interesting, and for me that’s always a good start. Unfortunately, that’s also where all the good things that can be said about this movie come to a grinding halt. It’s a rare example in b-movie making: I thought I’d figured out the lame ending after watching about 15 minutes, only to be fooled later on by AN EVEN LAMER ending! Also, and this is the best part for me, they took soft science to an intergalactic extreme, which I always find tremendously amusing.
Earth is being invaded! Yeah, it’s only one tiny little spaceship with a few missiles attached to it, but we’re still being invaded. Since we’re thrown right into the action at the beginning of the movie we’re not really given any indication as to how long this nano-invasion has been going on for, but suffice to say that mankind has been on the losing end of the war. Somewhere in between the aliens’ arrival and us getting our asses thoroughly kicked, the world’s governments were able to build a series of ark ships to take a portion of humankind and send it off to the relative safety of some far-gone alien world. So, it the face of absolute danger, we do what we do best: we get the hell out of dodge. The arks are fully automated and contain stasis pods made entirely out of the insides of old Game Boys, so all the survivors have to do is lay back, sleep for a couple of decades, and wake up on their new home world.
Well, that was the plan at least, until the ark ships got blown out of the air and had to make an emergency crash landing on an alien world. Now of course you know it’s an alien world because it has a ring system! Clever people over at the Asylum… Anyway, if the crash didn’t sufficiently thin out the remaining number of humans left in the galaxy, the invisible and rather trigger happy natives will certainly take care of the rest. If it weren’t for Lt. Frank Baum the Good Lord only knows what would happen to the few remaining survivors. He manages to lead them all to the relative safety of a palm bush, before asking his robotic assistant TIM to try and figure out where they are and what exactly is going on.
Thankfully the invisible guys with guns aren’t the only creatures on the planet: our Lt also managed to find a green humanoid lady who switches between a completely alien accent to a thoroughly American one in a heart beat. She explains that the invisible things keep her people, and the crash-landed humans, as test subjects in zoos to be studied. Together, the survivors decide that this planet really isn’t for them, and they need to get back to Earth. Hell, it may have been invaded by malevolent beings from outer space, but it’s still home. It will involve a very un-daring mission of cowardly men, overly Hispanic women, the green lady, a midget Ricky Gervais, and an entire race of albino humanoids to ward off this planet’s strange lifeforms and the invisible hunting things if the group ever has a chance of making it to the spare ship just over the mountain and making a beeline back to Earth.
I don’t usually give away endings, but this one was just too stupid and left me far too enraged to not point it out. So, whilst we are told that it took 5 years for them to escape Earth and make it to this planet, when the group does eventually manage to get off the surface they can’t find out where in the galaxy they are. TIM the robot explains that the evacuation plan was EVEN DUMBER than I originally thought: rather than finding a planet that would be suitable for humans to settle on before they all took off, all of the arks were just sent off in random directions with everyone hoping for the best. 10 years into the flight TIM realised that the chances of finding a suitable planet were nanoscopic (again, shouldn’t we have thought about that BEFORE we left Earth?) and decided that the best option would be to return to Earth. Even if it had been invaded, at least it was habitable. So, the Arks make the 100-year return journey to Earth, but due to a glitch in the theory of relativity the 100-year flight actually equates to 325 000 years back on Earth. When the Arks crash and the survivors woke up, the invisible thingies were the descendants of the original invaders, whilst lady-in-green and the albino people are the descendants of the humans that didn’t form part of the evacuation fleet. The Earth is now green due to a runaway greenhouse effect, and its ring system is actually the remains of the Moon after the aliens blew it up. Take that NASA! That’s how you soft science the shit out of space travel!
LIFE’S LESSONS LEARNED:
- First rule of planetary evacuations: no weapons in the stasis pods.
- Intergalactic space arks can easily be built with nothing more than a little wood and chicken wire.
- Yo mama jokes are a pan-galactic form of insult.
- If you don’t train your dragon from when it’s a baby, you’ll never teach it not to sleep on your spaceship.
- There is no intergalactic emergency so great that you can’t stop for a moment to bang one of the natives.
- There is no reason to think that English syntax differs in any meaningful way from that of innumerable alien languages.
AE: APOCALYPSE EARTH TRAILER
BUY AE: APOCALYPSE EARTH AT AMAZON.COM