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.
WHAT IT’S ABOUT:
Everyone needs a calling in life. For some it’s a career, for others it’s helping the poor. For me and all the voices, it’s watching b-grade horror movies. When I join forces with Tropical Mary the mission is to take SyFy movies based (loosely) on classical antiquity and rip it to shreds. It began with Cyclops, a movie that hurt me badly since Roman history is my thing. It was decided that we needed to find something that would hurt Tropical Mary just as much, since Greek history is more her thing. The gods seemed to have heard our prayers and delivered Odysseus and the Isle of Mists to us.
I won’t burden you with the entire plotline, because there really isn’t all that much of it, and the main point of doing this review is the lessons we learned through watching the movie. The year is 1180 BC-ish, Troy has been defeated and Odysseus has begun his 10 year journey to return home to Ithaca. Accompanying Odysseus and his small team is the poet Homer, who is acting as the scribe and recording Odysseus’ adventures as they travel along. The story about to unfold is so horrifying that Homer decided to leave it out of his Odyssey. Odysseus and his men are about to come upon the Isle of the Mists, a dreadful place where death is in the very air. It’s inhabited by a number of foul creatures who look a bit like gargoyles done with terrible CGI. More frighteningly, though, is the goddess Persephone, wife of Hades and queen of the Underworld. The other gods of Olympus have bound her to the island for attempting to usurp the throne from Zeus, and she has a number of sneaky plans in mind to get Odysseus and his men to help her off the island and enslave all mankind.
LIFE’S LESSONS LEARNED:
- The Trojan War took place around 1200 BC. Homer lived sometime in 700 BC. To take detailed notes of events, Homer travelled back in time to witness the deeds of Odysseus.
- Despite being blind Homer can see perfectly well.
- Despite being illiterate Homer is the only man in the movie who can write.
- Despite being illiterate and blind Homer can draw incredibly detailed maps.
- Despite English not existing at the time Homer was a master at the finer points of its grammar.
- Despite living miles away and the language not having formed yet Homer was well versed in Latin.
- Despite the fact that there were no publishing houses at the time Homer had publishing rights over his works.
- Not to be outdone by the Sirens, Poseidon also likes to sing. This is how he controls the seas.
- Not to be outdone by either the Sirens or Poseidon, Persephone is also known to break into song in order to defeat evil flying monsters.
- Persephone was a healing divinity.
- Although the technology had yet to be invented the Isle of the Mists is littered with beautiful glassware.
- Although the metal had yet to be discovered the Isle of the Mists is littered with aluminium poles.
- Although the architectural form was yet to be devised the Isle of the Mists is home to a number of Corinthian columns.
- All Greeks that have been at war for 10 years are granted access to amazing dental plans.
- Although she is a goddess and married to one of the 12 most important Greek divinities Persephone is also a siren.
- Although she is a goddess of war with many manly attributes Athena loves to dress is dazzling gold dresses and wear a tin crown.
- Although the Greeks had no concept of hell and that crosses were used by the Romans the only way to defeat Persephone is with the Hellfire Cross.
- Although Rome had yet to be founded all the Greeks dressed like the Romans.
- The stylus is mightier than the sword.
- Sealy Posturepedic mattresses were one of Mycenaean Greece’s greatest inventions.
- Although they are immortal and cannot die it’s actually quite easy to murder a goddess.
BUY ODYSSEUS AND THE ISLE OF MISTS AT AMAZON.COM
WHAT IT’S ABOUT:
Roger Corman and Eric Roberts strike again! Having already subjected myself to Sharktopus, I felt the perverse need to watch another movie where this terrible twosome join forces to melt the brains of anyone who owns a TV. Thankfully, I wasn’t alone in this one: I had my good friend Tropical Mary helping me through it. As she put it, “Cyclops is a tale of two cities: Rome and un-Rome.”
Now, I know this isn’t a horror movie, but there is some logic floating around: since both myself and Tropical Mary are classicists, and in particular I have spent the past 7 years studying Roman history, to see this kind of thing happen to Rome is just bloody horrifying to me. The story is simple enough: giant cyclops is captured, taken to Rome, escapes, is recaptured and then used in gladiatorial combat because the Emperor Tiberius (Eric Roberts, who always looks so fucking smug with himself) thinks it’s a good idea. Since it really is that simple I thought, instead of running through the movie, I would just present the incredibly long list of Life’s Lessons Learned as compiled by myself and Tropical Mary. Enjoy! 🙂
LIFE’S LESSONS LEARNED:
- Just because the Americas haven’t been discovered doesn’t mean that Rome doesn’t have a thriving pineapple import business.
- Sneakers were a common Roman fashion accessory.
- Cletus and Barbara were common Roman names.
- By developing a rudimentary teleportation device Romans were able to transport modern locks and keys back in time.
- To prepare for battle many Roman soldiers donned purple tights and knee pads.
- The emperor Augustus spent a great part of his reign slaying the world’s cyclops population.
- Medusa was a witch.
- The Colosseum was brought back through time to the reign of Tiberius. This sadly made it compress in size.
- Half a boar is the traditional Roman meal at a banquet to celebrate the capture of a cyclops.
- The entire Roman Senate was comprised of 4 senators.
- A common office bestowed on victorious soldiers was the Tribune of Nothing.
- Roman amphitheatres were often decked out with Christmas trimmings.
- The ghost of Cato was known to rock up +- 60 years after he died to host the Saturnalia.
- Gift vouchers were often given to the populace that they could exchange for Prize bread.
- Rome had a sizeable Middle Eastern dancing community.
- The priestesses of Venus had nothing better to do than shag gladiators.
- Despite being a polytheistic people the phrase ‘Oh my God!’ was relatively common.
- Despite being a polytheistic people there are no temples or altars to be seen in Rome at all.
- Roman soldiers frequently went into battle with Celtic shields and helmets with crests made from a feather boa.
- Roman gladiators often wore Spartan helmets.
- Butchers never needed to be paid for their meat.
- The name ‘Flavia’ is pronounced ‘Flaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahvia’.
- The emperor’s assistant often wore a piece of lace trimming around his head.
- Despite ‘decimate’ being a Latin word the Romans had no idea how many people it involved killing.
- Romans had amazing dental plans.
- Despite being a demilitarised zone Rome often had entire legions of soldiers in it.
- Every Roman citizen owned at least one lumo outfit.
- Emperors owned wicker boxes named ‘Lot’.
- Despite the fact that emperors were never addressed as such, the phrase ‘Yes, sire’ was often used in acknowledging their orders.
- The only way for Romans to be freed from freedom was to have a cyclops kill the emperor and for gladiators to celebrate.
- The Seven Hills of Rome refers to nothing – Rome is completely flat.
I would recommend giving it a watch – it’s one of those movies where I was laughing so hard I had tears running down my face.
BUY CYCLOPS AT AMAZON.COM
Year of Release: 2011
IMDB Rating: 4.3 / 10
Level of Awful: Low
WHAT IT’S ABOUT:
In the interest of uniformity this movie has been ranked as having a ‘Low’ Level of Awful but, when compared to other Syfy gems such as Flu Birds, Sharktopus and Mega Shark VS Giant Octopus, this is a true masterpiece of cinematography. It’s one of those unfortunate movies that could have been really good but, mainly owing to a lack of budget, just wasn’t pulled together as nicely as it could have been. I wouldn’t rush out to rent it but if there comes that inevitable night when you can’t sleep and you’ve scrolled through every channel to find nothing more entertaining than Scream of the Banshee and yet another rerun of Keeping up with the Kardashians, go for the former.
We begin our journey in Ireland in the 12th century in the armoury of the local monastery. A group of Templar Knights is busy constructing and blessing a complex shield with the capability of transforming into a box. The reason for making the box? Banshee hunting. Now the banshee is a little creature from Irish folklore, usually associated with specific families, that scream when a member of their particular family is about to die. While they usually appear as a revolting old hag they generally can transform into any form of their choosing. Whilst a banshee certainly isn’t something you’d want to run into in a dark alley they aren’t generally seen as being malicious creatures. Since we’ve just been thrown into a Syfy b-movie, however, the banshee here is a mistress from hell that Nemesis herself would flee from in terror. While she is riding on horseback through the Irish countryside she is intercepted by the Knights. She manages to scream two of them into submission but is defeated by the third when he uses the shield / box on her, decapitating her and rendering her scream useless through some amazing 12th century sound proofing capabilities included in the box’s construction.
Flash forward to the present day where we find Prof. Isla Whelan and postgrad students Otto and Janie working in the local university’s ancient history / archaeology classrooms. With a major demonstration coming up the team is behind schedule and frantically trying to restore all the artifacts that are haphazardly lying around the floor. When Isla’s daughter Shayla shows up she is also put to work in the bowels of the building trying to find an inventory item that is listed on a map contained in the glove of a piece of armour that was sent to them. After breaking down the rotten wall and finding the room on the map the team finds only a single item: the box containing the banshee head. Since 12th century Irish legislation didn’t state that packaging should include the calorie count and ingredients in the product the group is completely unaware that they are busy handling a banshee head. The fact that the box vibrates and gives off muffled breathing and screaming sounds won’t deter them either and, with the use of the glove, manage to open the box, revealing the banshee’s rather gruesome face and teeth. Not long after the box is opened the head opens its mouth, screams, disappears, reappears with a body and begins its campus-wide reign of terror.
Now the banshee is a tricky creature to deal with because, while she is FUCKING UGLY, she is bound by a rather irritating little law that allows her to use her scream to scare her prey but she can’t actually kill them unless they scream back at her. Finding this out, of course, is a process of trial and error and some people get it right while others just don’t. The advantage that she does have is that as soon as someone has heard her scream (either live and unplugged or in a recorded format) she is allowed to stalk them until they eventually cave in. For Isla, Otto and Janie the problem that dawns on them is the question of who the hell will believe that they are being hunted by a creature from the depths of Irish folklore that they released from a box that had been lying in storage for a decade or so? Thankfully there’s one person who might be able to help: Broderick Duncan, a self-proclaimed Templar Knight who lost his job and mind while investigating the box and trying to figure out how to open it. Unfortunately Duncan has his own agenda and wants to learn how to control the banshee and use her as a weapon against all those who called him a mad man. Now it falls to Isla to save her grad students and daughter not only from the banshee but also from the deranged Duncan dressed in his tatty pyjamas and armed with a loaded shotgun.
Not the best movie I’ve ever seen and definitely not the worst but it has given me a little hope that Syfy might yet turn out a half-decent movie in the near future. Of course, like life on earth, Scream of the Banshee might just be the lone blue marble in an ever-expanding universe of horrible CGI and ‘VS’ creature flicks.
LIFE’S LESSONS LEARNED:
- 1954 was a good year for fossilised rats.
- Ancient historical artifacts should be stored under a leaking pipe.
- You can still hear perfectly well when your eardrums explode.
- Mother-daughter issues become particularly prominent when an ancient box full of evil Irish banshee head is brought into the picture.
- Banshees are talented illusionists.
- Banshees are a useful tactic to use when you are trying to get a girl into your bed.
- When hunting for a banshee a shotgun is all you need to get the information you need out of someone.
SCREAM OF THE BANSHEE TRAILER