Dream Movies: Argonautica

The Title: Jason and The Argonauts

The Plot:  Ancient Greece. A time of monsters, men, and the Gods who rule them. Pelias, ruler of Iolcus has received a dire warning from Apollo: a one-sandled man will end his reign as king. Enter Jason, everyman extraordinaire who's misplaced half of his sandals. In order to circumvent Apollo's prediction and maintain his rule, Pelias sends Jason on the wildest of the wild goose chases: He must find and retrieve the legendary Golden Fleece.

The Golden Fleece can be found in The Shrine of the Silver Monkey...
Poor Jason is a melancholy figure. Old enough to realize Greece is in the legendary Age of Heroes, but too young to have fought in the legendary Trojan War, and fatalistic enough to realize his lot in life is slightly less than ordinary. He always dreamed of adventure, of excitement, of exhilarating expeditions alongside icons, like Daedalus, Pericles, and his idol, Odysseus. Instead, he's stuck selling fish (or something menial) watching the world pass him by.

The Greeks didn't immortalize just anybody. You had to urn it.

Not privy to Pelias' true intentions, Jason sees the fleece-fueled snipe hunt as his one and only chance for glory, and the ancient Greek equivalent of a fanboy's dream come true. Using the desperate king's boundless resources, Jason enlists the help of every Greek hero not currently dead, exiled, or incapacitated by means of transmogrification (and according to Ovid, there were a lot).

Among the crew are the mighty Herakles, whose strength knows no boundary (and who resents being mistaken for his Roman cousin). The brave Orpheus, who has transcended to the underworld and back multiple times. The sprightly Atalanta, who slew the Calydonian Boar. The noble Perseus, who beheaded Medusa and tamed Pegasus. The determined Theseus, who escaped the clutches of the Minoan labyrinth. The knowledgeable Argus, who knows the oceans like the back of his calloused hands, and builder of the mighty ship Argos (whom he leases to Jason for a very, very reasonable rate.) Finally, there's Medea, the voice of reason, the grounded individual amongst a literal ship of fools... And there's 42 other sailors who will have to fight for screentime.
Kinda like Degrassi. Except on a boat.
Together, they are The Argonauts. They will brave treacheries far and wide, be they winged harpies, bronze giants, mystic clashing rocks, or in-fighting between the Olympians. For glory. For adventure. For redemption. For fleece. And for the truth behind Jason's actual place in the universe; how and why he was chosen for such a quest, and what it means for Iolcus, all of Greece, and the future of mankind.
Jason had a little boat, his fleece was gold as corn...

The Talent: Walt Disney Animation Studios

Love 'em or hate 'em, they are undisputed royalty in the world of film. They have the ability to balance comedy and drama like masters. The immersive worlds they create are signifiers of expert storytellers, animators and filmmakers alike. Plus their characters and expressions are bar-none the best in the business. Yeah, even better than Pixar. There, I said it.

The Appeal: Family movies, particularly of the animated variety, are by and large adaptations (I have no basis for this statistic, just go with me). And sometimes after we adapt, we re-adapt, and re-interpret, and re-imagine, and re-boot everything. And after that, it's time for a fresh source.

Greek mythology wasn't designed for the kiddies. They were tales of lust and betrayal and graphic violence. So I can understand why the myths of old are frequently adapted as big, loud, dumb action flicks (looking your way, Wrath of the Titans). But you know what? Snow White is the quintessential kiddie film, and The Brothers Grimm weren't g-rated themselves. Lots of fairy tales are deconstructed and bowdlerized beyond recognition. They made a freaking animated musical out of The Hunchback of Notre Dame with talking gargoyles. Everything is fair game.

This was satire. Then two years later, it actually happened!

As implied earlier in the plot section, I envision this film as an action/comedy. The story lends itself to it. Make Jason a little overly eager and a touch naive; foolhardy and childlike in ambition. He consistently puts his crew in peril, yet he never realizes just how his irresponsibility and inexperience factor into this. Medea is the mother-like figure who bails Jason out of his jams, then slowly evolves into the romantic interest (Kinda Freudian, but whatever). For the rest of the crew, the screenwriter can play off some shallow, appointed gimmick. Argus can be really old and borderline senile. Atalanta can be four feet tall, but every bit as strong as her shipmates. Hell, the boat talks in the original myth. You can't pass up an opportunity for humor like that.

Jason and the Argonauts has been adapted before, most notably the Ray Harryhausen version from the 60's, but it's long overdue for a fresh spin. The story of the Argonauts is the It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World of Ancient Greece. With so many different characters, you can interpret it from a dozen different angles, and it'll be different every time. It's an epic story (literally), so you'd be hard pressed to fit the story into a single movie.  Even the '63 version omits the ending. But after seeing so many interpretations of Hercules' journeys and The Odyssey, it's been a long time coming. Jason and the Argonauts is so chock-full of memorable characters, exciting scenes, and superb potential I'd love to see someone try.

Because what's childhood without a little trauma?


Coming Soon and Gone - Ice Age

Am I remembering correctly, or was this trailer before every movie for, like, 2 years? And then Ice Age came out. And it wasn't nearly as funny as the trailer itself.