Saturday, March 5, 2011

Clash of the Titans - Revisited.

The Clash is a Bash.

Being a fan of Greek mythology, I have studied the myth-proper of Perseus. I know the liberties that Clash of the Titans (2010) took in changing the story. Yet, I really enjoyed the special effects, the story, the actors and the action sequence.

Of course, I am still a fan of Clash of the Titans (1981). It takes me back to an era of stop motion photography and the simpler times of high school. I had a group of good friends, who, like me, enjoyed Dungeons and Dragons, Science Fiction and Fantasy movies and the after-movie binges at Pinball Pete’s.

When I fist saw the previews for the 2010 version, my first thought was that Perseus went from hero to bad-ass. The ’81 version had Harry Hamlin as Perseus. He had well-styled hair and his intentions noble; he wanted to save Adromeda. The movie was a family movie. It reminded me of the Sinbad movies of the seventies.

Clash 2010 was grittier. It showed Perseus as someone who was troubled, angry and out for vengeance. He was not out to save the girl; he was out to avenge the death of his family. Sam Worthington is not “as pretty” (as my wife says) as Harry was; his hair is a really short. What was amusing was the appearance of Boobo, the mechanical owl. I did not really care for the owl’s role in 1981, so when 2010 poked fun at it, I was pleased.

I enjoyed both movies. I love classic film for there is something about the beauty of sto[-motion photography for monsters because it is an art of the time period, and I like redone versions if done with good taste to the key elements and computer aided graphics are a blast. Both movies get a thumbs up from me. It’s a Clash Bash Party.

Tron Legacy


Bring on the blue light cycles and heroes. Bring on the games. Bring on Tron: Legacy.
From watching the trailer, the special effects with CGI not only hold on to the visual and story elements from the classic 1982 movie, but they also make the Tron world more real. It looks like a digital masterpiece of a science fiction adventure.

Now, I eagerly await the release to see if the movie is as good as the trailer. Whenever a sequel is made or a story is revisited, I always want to see continuity with the story and characters. Since the storyline continues 27 years later from the time of the last movie, it is promising enough continuity with Tron, the Grid, Flynn (Jeff Bridges) and a Alan (Bruce Boxleitner). I even see the laser digital device firing up as Flynn’s son sits down to find his dad.

The father/son angle caused me concern because I have seen it used many times, sometimes successfully (Star Wars, of course) and used unsuccessfully (Lost In Space, 1998).  Disney on the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) does give a promising story summary. Walt Disney Pictures says, “..father and son embark on a life-or-death journey across a cyber universe -- a universe created by Kevin himself that has become far more advanced with vehicles, weapons, landscapes and a ruthless villain who will stop at nothing to prevent their escape.” Father and son together! Two techno-geniuses going toe to toe with a hyper-dangerous world. How cool is that? And the tagline is reported to be, “The Game Has Changed.” I like the line, “Welcome to the Grid,’ myself. I am hoping for a few more good lines.

I am curious to know the villain. Dillenger was taken out, but whatever happened to MCP, the Master Control Program, which was a cross between HAL and Roman emperor hosting gladiator games. So, what twist and discovery awaits until December.

I will, of course, get out my DVD of Tron (an excellent Christmas gift from the kids coached by Heidi) and watch it.

It would be great to watch Tron in my Science Fiction and Fantasy class. This would be a great learning opportunity to watch an original story line and then see it cross over to a new generation. Unfortunately, the movie comes out after the trimester is over, so I will not be able to be able to assign a paper over it.
I’ll have to show it. And you have to rent it and see it too. It is everyone’s homework to seeTron. We will revisit Tron: Legacy on this website late December/early January. 

Even in the Grid, education is crucial to a good movie sequel.

Field of Dreams

"If you build it, he will come." 

Ray Kinsella looks about his cornfield for the source of the ghostly whisper. Angrily he stomps about challenging whoever to come out. He wants answers. Thus begins Ray's quest that takes him to Boston and Chisholm, Minnesota. In the end we learn about redemption and what heaven may be like.

Field of Dreams is a modern fantasy that shows us a man's quest once he has been contacted by Shoeless Joe Jackson from the cornfield (from beyond). These elements are prevalent in many fantasy stories, but what makes Dreams more popular to the general masses is its subtlety. Baseball players coming out of a cornfield, a place of life and growth, a symbol of American industry and vitality, makes a delicate suggestion upon reality. The farm with its large white house has grounded us, yet through Ray, played by Kevin Costner, we are easily pulled into the magic and believe. It becomes real.

We join in Ray's quest. We sit dutifully next to Ray and Terrance Mann on the first baseline of the night game at Fenway. We feel despair when Doc Graham denies his chance to play again, and we are revitalized when the rookie Graham resurfaces on a ribbon of highway. Ah, then Terrance Mann (James Earl Jones) enchants us with his tribute to baseball. It is the "one constant" as America changes and grows. Baseball is a symbol "of all that is good." He tells us that we need our heroes and to hold on to our dreams. "People will come, Ray."

And in the twilight of an Iowa sun, the question "Is this heaven?" is answered quietly when he looks at the porch of the farmhouse where his wife and daughter sit on a swing.

If you have not seen this film, go rent it, sit back lazily with an ice tea and witness the enchantment. If you are fan, "go the distance" and visit the movie again. Oh, and after, go have a catch.

Clash of the Titans - The Assignment

If you came from my website, you may have noticed the picture that is a part of the link to this blog site. It is of Andromeda as she faced the sea monster that she was being sacrificed to. It is moments before Perseus, as he was passing by, swooped in and saved her. The image is of the artwork of Boris Vallejo. He did a lot of fantasy art for many book covers during the eighties and nineties. His work is colorful, sensual and incredible.

I like the image for another reason. I love the story of Perseus. And I enjoy the two Hollywood adaptations of the myth: Clash of the Titans. Both the 1981 version and the 2010 version, although they take liberties with the myth-proper, are entertaining cinema for the time they were created. They are fun, mythical romps of adventure, humor and heroism. 

If you want to take a look at the myth-proper in an understandable presentation instead of actual Greek. Go to and select "Heroes." There you can find Perseus and his link to his story. It is an easy to read, animated capsulation of the myth. And, of course, you can rent Clash of the Titans. You can choose either version or both. I won't require you to write an essay, but you can come back and post your thoughts here in this blog. 

Being a bonafide science fiction and fantasy fan and teacher (I love my job), I get to enlighten today's youth in the enjoyment of classic literature, classic films that predate CGI and modern advances in film and story telling. I try to keep the class fun yet thought provoking like you would when you are sitting around a campfire or hanging out with friends just talking about things. Some discussions may poke fun, and some may get as heated as the arguments of the boys on the Big Bang Theory. 

The written responses may have needed some more attention to grammar and punctuation, but they also told me that the students get some of what I am saying and maybe have gained some insight into my love and fascination with the genres. If they don't, they will just think I am weird, and I am okay with that too.

Why Firefly?

Pirate, cowboy and war hero; and that is just the captain of the ship on the television show named Firefly. Its run was short lived. It only has seventeen episodes, but creator Joss Whedon made a beautiful show about a former soldier just trying to make a living on the Outer Rim.

Captain Malcolm Reynolds has a crew made up of diverse characters that are also renegades, fugitives and searchers in their own right. Two contrasting crew members are Zoe, the beautiful and deadly fellow soldier that fought alongside Malcolm against the Alliance, and Wash, the peaceful, comic relief husband to Zoe. These three are quick with action and dialog. But there's more. The cast is rounded out by a “long as I get paid” mercenary named Jayne, a wayward priest, a reputable “companion and a naive yet handy mechanic. All are in search of something more. Then add in the two fugitives running from the Alliance: Simon and River.
Whedon's sci-fi creation (you might know him from "Buffy" and "Angel") is quick and serious, dynamic with action and dabbled with humor. The stories delve into the eternal quest for knowledge, independence and serenity with a quirky sauciness of rouges and renegades.

I missed the show when it was on Friday nights. It had the wrong time slot for the audience that would love it. My wife bought it when it came out on DVD. I watched it with her and fell in love with Firefly.

It does things the other science fiction shows never seem to try. No sound in space. There is not a mission or purpose; they are survivors. And look for the aliens...they are not there. The classic science fiction author of Heinlien explored that notion. Also, the culture that created may smack of a western, but listen to how the characters use foul language. The implied evolution from "the Earth that was" is intriguing; especially in the case of Inara, the companion.

And the dialog is phenomenal. The show steps out of the box for any genre. Not only do the characters swear in Chinese, they having a unique dialect. When things are good, they are “shiney.” Universe is shortened to “verse”, as in, “best ship in the verse.” As Malcolm fights a monstrous henchman, Zoe stops the others from stepping in saying, “Captain needs to do this for himself.” Malcolm, battered and fighting for his life, says, “No, I don’t!” The gang says “oh” and shoots the bad guy full of holes.

The show is truly entertaining. It is also thought provoking and dynamic. I use this show in my science fiction class and show students how it steps away from all the other science fiction shows. It is unique. And leave the class with, “That’s why, Firefly.”

"Everything I Need to Know in the 'Verse I Learned on Firefly"

Or at least, "in SciFi class." And if no SciFi class, then here. Good literature, television, and film can teach us. They can gi...