Hollywood has tried to adapt Greek, Roman, and Egyptian myths for decades with great inaccuracies and generally poor reception, but that hasn’t dampened the appeal of making new movies one bit. Before Disney revives the Percy Jackson series, it’s worth taking a look at the film’s past attempts to bring classic heroes, battles, and mythical creatures to the big screen.
Not included on this list are the 2010 and 2013 adaptations of the first two books in the series, The Lightning Thiefand sea of monsterswidely panned by fans and the author, Rick Riordanand full of disappointing spoilers.
“Jason and the Argonauts” (1963)
Now a cult classic and famous for its spectacular stop-motion creatures, Jason and the Argonauts is mostly faithful to the myth surrounding the voyage of the Argo with some deviations. The story follows Jason on a quest to find the magical Golden Fleece with his crew of Argonauts, including the famous hero Hercules.
by Ray Harryhausen The stop motion work on the film, with various monsters like the famous skeletons, Talos, and a hydra, is considered his best and Jason and the Argonauts remains one of the best fantasy films of all time.
Disney’s account of one of mythology’s most famous heroes is one of many over the years. It has the perfect balance of camp, Disney humor, catchy gospel songs, and a unique twist on standard Disney romance. The story follows Hercules in his many trials against a hydra, the Nemean lion, and Hades himself under the tutelage of Chiron.
Her love, Megara, is one of Disney’s most self-contained heroines, poking fun at the damsel in distress trope and insta-love romances of Disney’s other Renaissance movies. Hercules plays fast and loses with the finer detail of mythos, but it takes itself just seriously enough to be hugely entertaining.
“Clash of the Titans” (2010)
2010s Clash of the Titans is a remake of the loose 1981 adaptation of the myth of Perseus (the same hero for whom Percy de Riordan is named). The film follows Perseus, a demigod son of Zeus, caught between Hades and the rest of Olympus with the threat of the Kraken hanging over him and the city of Argos. With Princess Andromeda’s life hanging in the balance, Perseus tracks down Medusa to use her head as a weapon to stop the Kraken.
Clash of the Titans is loud and gritty and caricatures the myths it’s based on, but for a summer blockbuster and a cast centered on by Sam Worthington Perseus doing his best, it’s still a fun action movie with lots of spectacle and stakes worthy of the gods.
“Wrath of the Titans” (2012)
Following Clash of the Titans takes place ten years after the events of the first film and follows Perseus of Worthington on another quest, this time against Kronos. The gods derive their power from human worship and devotion and when it wanes, Cronos seizes the opportunity to avenge himself for being cast into Tatar thousands of years ago.
Wrath of the Titans also does a heavy caricature of the mythos it’s based on, but it’s an equally entertaining blockbuster with much of the cast reprising their roles with Liam Neeson like Zeus and Ralph Fiennes like Hades once again.
Very loosely based on Iliadmovie stars brad pitt, Eric Bana, and Orlando Bloom during the war between Sparta and Troy. Pitt stars as Achilles, one of the best-known Greek heroes today in a fast-paced war that cuts ten years of fighting into weeks. Much more spectacle than faithful to historical events and cultural accuracy, Troy remains one of the most expensive films ever made.
Each actor brings dedicated nuance and depth to their characters where bombastic plot fails. Troy is always thrilling entertainment that presents awe-inspiring historical events on the big screen.
‘Helen of Troy’ (1956)
For a much older account of the Trojan War, Helen of Troy takes equal creative liberties with the events in the Iliad, but absolutely sells its action, stunts, and practice sets. The film follows the same story as that of 2004 Troycentered around Paris (Jacques Sernas) and Helen (Rossana Podesta) whose love affair sparks the war between Sparta and Troy.
The stripped-down plot and shallow characters do the film a disservice, but the spectacle of the cast’s massive depiction of the battle and siege of Troy with the infamous giant horse is still worth a casual watch.
300 is based on the comics of the same name about the Battle of Thermopylae between Sparta and Persia and the Stars Gerard Butler like King Leonidas of Sparta and his 300 Spartans against King Xerxes (Rodrigue Santoro) of Persia and its 300,000 men.
Very stylized, like Zack Snyder movies tend to be, the movie is an amazing spectacle and popcorn fun with awesome cinematography. Historically, the story takes liberties with Spartan and Persian culture and has been criticized as Islamophobic as it portrays each side as good versus evil.
Next: 8 must-see movies for fans of Ancient Greece