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3.6 out of 5 stars52
3.6 out of 5 stars
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As someone who teaches Classical Greek & Roman Mythology it is impossible for me to sit through something like the 2000 mini-series "Jason and the Argonauts" without constantly thinking about its fidelity to the myths of antiquity. Certainly this new version works in more members of the Argos crew than the 1963 film version with its Ray Harryhausen stop motion animation that is one of the beloved films of our youth. This time around there we have not only the mighty Hercules (Brian Thompson) aboard, but also Orpheus (Adrian Lester), Atalanta (Olga Sosnovska), Castor (Omid Djalili) and Pollux (John Sharian). We also have Jason (Jason London) and the Argo visiting the land of the Amazons and other details from the epic poem written by the third-century poet Apollonius of Rhodes, as well as the relationship between Jason and Pelias (Dennis Hopper) taken from Pindar. There is also a hint of the Medea (Jolene Blalock) that Jason will get to meet in the tragedy by Euripides. The only complaint is that unless you know the background on most of these characters you have no way of appreciating who is sailing with Jason. A prime example is when Orpheus mentions losing Eurydice but does not tell of how he almost won her back from Hades. Meanwhile, Atalanta seems to be interested in Jason (what would Artemis say?).
But while Matthew Faulk and Mark Skeet get credit for working the ancient sources into this telling of the tale, the problem is that the end result misses the magic of the Harryhausen version. The problem is twofold. First, the tenor of the story has contradictory impulses. On the one hand we have the active participation of the gods, with Hera (Olivia Williams) and Zeus (Angus MacFadyen) aiding and hindering Jason in his quest as they work out one of their frequent marital spats. But on the other hand there is an effort to make the story more realistic, in terms of the politics and relationships, which works against the idea of being the playthings of the gods. None of the actors strike heroic poses or speak in grand phrases and even Dennis Hopper is remarkable restrained in his performance. "Jason and the Argonauts" tries to reconcile these two by having the gods work behind the scenes for the most part, but then Poseidon stands up and that idea is quickly dispatched.
Second, Jason London as the title character looks too young. I know the actor was 28 when he made this mini-series but he seems like a youth. One of the problems with the story was while the greatest heroes in Greece would come to sail with Jason, a callow youth, which Apollonius solved by having Hera make them all want to go. Instead Faulk and Skeet have Jason make up have the crew with undesirables, some of whom provide comic relief, helped because of the aid of the guard who saved him from death as a youth. In other words, Jason leads the Argonauts because that is what was written in the script. Granted, this is consistent with the tone of the mini-series, but you cannot help but think that when Jason meets Medea that she is going to eat him alive (of course, she does much worse, but that is another tragedy). The end result is a production of "Jason and the Argonauts" that lacks the sense of heroic adventure that the tale personifies in classical mythology. It was okay and it should have been fantastic.
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on 18 September 2001
Having read R.Graves' great book "Hercules, my shipmate", everything around the Argonauts has to be compared with it. This video passed the test.
When I first got it, I was expecting something like the "Xena"and "Hercules" TV shows. During the first moments, I was pleasantly surprised. The costumes and background fits with what the ancient Greeks were supposed to be like, judging from urns and other relics and artifacts. The storyline goes closely to the ancient myths and the special effects are decent. Some inaccuracies are present; i.e. Hercules in Hera's service, but it's expected in similar movies.
The actors: Derek Jacobi, Dennis Hopper, Frank Langella need no introduction, there are magnificent. The actress who plays Medea is very good as well, enchanting and mysterious. However, the leading actor in Jason's role is not good. However, for those of us who consider the ancient Jason a useless stud who happened to be in the right place at the right time, he fits in perfectly. And a brilliant casting decision: Brian Tompson as Hercules. I loved every scene he was in.
Overall, it's a very entertaining film, but if you want a deeper and equally enjoyable work on the Argonauts, read R.Graves' great book "Hercules, my shipmate".
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on 30 December 2009
There will of course be the inevitable comparisons to the 1963 film, but the only similarity is that they share the same title. The acting is shocking... even Dennis Hopper, usually so convincing as the 'bad guy', fails to inject any excitement into this effort. Jason London is particularly bad, the average house brick would give a more convincing performance. And if you hoped the special effects would save it, think again... Poseidon appears here as some sort of crusty, rock covered hippy, the harpies look like demented winged monkeys and the creature that guards the golden fleece must be a throwback from 'One Million Years BC'... and that's pretty much it as far as nasties go.

Life is too short to spend three and a half hours watching this flaccid attempt at film-making stagger to it's sorry conclusion. An achingly dull and lifeless piece whose only purpose may be as an aid for insomniacs.

For goodness' sake don't waste your time, stick with the original or wait for the rumoured re-make being written by Zak Penn. Nothing could be worse than this...
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on 30 December 2009
This film moves at a snail's pace, has no sense of epic and will send you to sleep. It is way too long.

If you are coming from the 1963 version, the part featuring Talos is replaced by an inferior confrontation with Poseidon and the seven-headed Hydra is replaced by a monster lizard.

The 1963 version is much better but looks distinctly low res on a large screen. If they reshot the 1963 version in HD and modern animation they could have a 5-star product.

Bottom line - only buy this DVD if you are having trouble sleeping.
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on 18 July 2005
I think this is one of the best adaptations of Jason and the Argonauts. Jason London is a strong lead and Jolene Bialock takes your breath away as Medea, it's beautifully shot and the costumes are great. Dennis Hopper is a ridiculous evil king but very entertaining. The plot is altered considerably but still manages to convey the essence of the myth. It felt like stepping into Greek mythology !
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VINE VOICEon 24 November 2004
When I saw this latest version of the story of Jason and his search for the fabled Golden Fleece was scheduled for broadcast on the Hallmark channel I was intrigued. Not only did the movie feature not one, but two of the most beautiful women in Hollywood today - Natasha ('Species') Henstridge and Jolene ('Enterprise') Blalock, but it also promised four hours of grand entertainment.
Why then was I, about an hour into it, looking wistfully over at my DVD collection and in particular the classic Harryhausen version of the tale and contemplating what could have been.
Essentially put, this new adaptation of the Greek legend is a dud. Not only is the lead actor wholly unconvincing throughout but the action is tired, the narrative too drawn out and the pace sluggish. It does not help either that Henstridge's part (although top billed) is essentially nothing more than an extended cameo and that Blalock is unrecognizable (after watching her in a scene it was only her voice that clued me in to it being her).
Also why is it that the set design and effects looked cheaper and less convincing than they did four decades earlier?
All in all this was a huge disappointment and something Hallmark should have done better. For an example of the channel getting these made-for-television features/mini-series right check out the simply superb and very entertaining 'La Femme Musketeer.'
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on 6 April 2016
A two parter from years a go. Dennis hopper as the tyrannical king who orders Jason to find the golden fleece or his mother will be killed . ....

Frank langella is the luckless king who owns the fleece on his island

Quite a few Brit actors in it that Americans wont of known about. Good story good effects

Of course j
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on 20 February 2014
It's always the same story, take an old legend, make all the characters modern with modern characteristics ,slang, and swearing,mix it up with other legends ! here's an idea, make another film and don't soil the name of other classics !
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on 15 May 2016
Not a bad film, but I have given three stars because it could have been a lot better, in my opinion this effort is not as good as the Todd Armstrong version
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on 23 January 2014
This item was purchased as a present. After placing the order I was informed that the item had been despatched and arrived well packed before the designated delivery date. I would have no hesitation in recommending this distributer.
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