Jason and the Argonauts (2000)

Reviewer: Charity Bishop

A legendary tale of great heroics, Jason and the Argonauts is the story of one man's journey to find the legendary golden fleece that will grant its owner anything his heart desires. It is an adventure, a romance, and authentic mythology from beginning to end. After the kingdom is stormed and its ruler (Cirian Hinds) slaughtered by his evil brother Pelias (Dennis Hopper), the heir to the throne, young Jason, is taken by a temple guard far from the city. Raised among the impoverished of his nation, with his true heritage kept a secret from those who would wish to destroy him, Jason (Jason London) soon wishes to discern the truth. He returns to the homeland of his fathers and on the way gives aid to a crippled old woman, who promises him that a great journey lies before him.
 
Little does Jason know that the old woman is the goddess Hera (Olivia Williams), who toys in the fates of men for pleasure. Jason's mother has long invoked Hera's name as a guardian over her son's fate and because of her loathing for Pelias, Hera has chosen Jason to succeed him to the throne. Her emotionally distant and mischievous husband Zeus becomes jealous of Hera's love for Jason and determines to make his trials difficult. Jason is captured and taken as a prisoner to the palace, where Pelias offers him his life in exchange for the theft of the golden fleece, a mystical object he has long sought. If Jason does not return in six months' time, his mother's life will be forfeit. Determined to persevere, he gathers together an intrepid group of sailors willing to take on a great adventure, among their ranks the legendary Hercules (Brian Thompson). Together they encounter many trials and dangers, from enraging the sea god to fighting demons, following a mythical star chart, and finally the epic battle with the fleece's keeper, a dragon.
 
The fleece is in the guardianship of King Aertes (Frank Langella), whose daughter is a sorceress chosen to protect its powers. Medea (Jolene Blalock) foresees the approach of Jason and predicts it will bring their downfall. Rather than setting out to sabotage him, with a little help from Hera and the god of love, Medea will compel him to succeed. The result is a tale that is well transcribed to the screen and beautifully filmed. A story that has enraptured audiences for thousands of years is treated with decency, given strong dialogue and intriguing characters. While the gods wage war in the heavens, Jason forges forth with a gathering that become likable as time wears on. The thief who wishes to be reformed, but not quite enough to keep his hands off other people's property. The young woman who has always loved Jason but cannot seem to draw more than brotherly affection from him. Hercules, who never fails to amuse the audience by spouting off one of his legendary victories. "And, as always," he says with a less than modest shrug, "I saved the day!"
 
From evil princes to mythological creatures such as sprites, demons, dragons, and sirens, to an old blind prophet banished to endless hunger for displeasing the gods (a cameo by Derek Jacobi), the story is highly engaging and enjoyable. There are some production flaws. It's evident the filmmakers have never observed a bull ride. Their supposedly monstrous and terrifying supernatural bull appears to be hopping around the arena. Its animation is also shoddy, odd when you consider that they do a fantastic job with all the other elements, including the dragon and demons. There is some wooden acting involved, particularly on Jason's part, but I didn't mind watching it.

 

Sexual Content:

Implied sexual content. Dialogue references sex on several occasions. Hera accuses Zeus of romancing mortals and avoiding her bed. Zeus asks Medea to lie with him. She sensuously pours oil over Jason's skin; her brother says he overheard her scheming with Jason while the couple was making love like a pair of cooing pigeons. Hera remarks on Jason's body to enrage her husband.

Language:

There's one profanity and mild abuse of deity each.  

Violence:

A great deal of battle violence. It rarely becomes bloody except on two occasions, when a man is attacked by a group of soldiers and slaughtered and another spits up blood after being stabbed. Numerous people are slain by the sword. Two are eaten by a dragon. Several are attacked by demons and consumed. Others drown in the sea. A priest is dragged to the depths of a bottomless pool inhabited by a monster.

Other:

S
cenes of praying to the gods and them responding. Sometimes they come to earth to influence men. Other times they stir up angry storms and typhoons, set other "smaller" gods on the warpath, etc. Medea is a sorceress who can foresee the future. She often goes into trances. She and others perform various actions to foresee events. Of great importance in most of these is water. A priest observes future events through a scarlet cloud in a pool. Most of Jason's journey is based on an astrological star chart.