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Jason And The Argonauts (TV - 2000)

review by Zach B.

 

Unrated

Studio: Artisan/Hallmark

Starring Jason London, Frank Langella, Natasha Henstridge, Angus MacFadyen and Dennis Hopper

Written by Matthew Faulk & Mark Skeet

Directed by Nick Willing

 

Retail Price: $19.99

Features: Making Of Docmentary, Cast and Crew Info, Notable and Quotable

Specs: 1.33:1 Standard, English Dolby Surround, Chapter Search

It seems TV movies and mini-series have been this huge craze for quite some time. But after the huge success of the mini-series "Merlin", NBC thought they could create even bigger and better mini-series to air during the all important sweeps period, which sets network advertising rates. NBC thought if they could keep cranking out mini-series and hype them out in advance, they'd be set. Man, did their master plan fail.

"The Legend Of The Leperchauns" garnered decent reviews, but the ratings were pretty dismal. "The 10th Kingdom" just plain bombed, and "The 60s" plus "The 70s" were torn by critics but did well in the ratings. All in all, none of these topped "Merlin" in critical reviews or ratings.

Anyhow, I guess "Jason and the Argonauts" falls in between somewhere. It did get very good reviews by critics, and performed well in the Neilsens. It did a lot better than what people expected. It was a mini-series, and debuted only a few weeks after the heavily hyped "The 70s". "Jason" wasn't hyped as much, but still did good. I feel it deserved better, but anyhow, it still did good.

Jason is the heir to Ancient Greece, however, his father is murdered by his brother, and Jason is also set to be executed. He escapes getting killed and leaves his past behind for twenty years. Twenty years later, he goes back to claim what's really his, but his nasty uncle still wants him to be killed. Jason, however, says he will get the ultimate gift to his uncle... the Golden Fleece in order to save his life. So with the Argonauts, a crazy group of sailors, Jason sets out on an incredible journey.

This mini-series is presented uncut and in full, and lasts just under three hours. Many people will compare this to the classic one decades ago. Each version has their similarities and differences, but I found it pretty neat to see the monsters come to life (and look better) in this version, due to advances with computer animation, plus with some help from Jim Henson's Creature Shop. The action is also pretty packed, and a lot of the sequences are nicely done.

This is truly one of the better TV movies/mini-series I have seen lately, and if you missed it on TV, be sure to check out the Artisan/Hallmark DVD version. It's worth your time.

 

Presented in the original way as seen on NBC in the United States, Jason and the Argonauts has an aspect ratio of 1.33:1. The video presentation is a mixed big. I did notice some slight shimmer, and the resolution did not seem up to par as it could have been. Detail is nothing spectacular, but I do admit colors are vivid and at points the characters and things on screen seemed really 3-D, I just wanted to go touch them. At times it looked like it was a high res VHS tape. It would look like that in one shot, and in the next direct cut it'd be pure digital. There is also some slight pixelation. All in all, the transfer isn't really stable. It's decent, bascially.

The sound at best is also decent. Presented in 2.0 Dolby Surround, the sound here is also nothing to really rave about. I didn't find surrounds to be used so well or a lot, and when they were used it, sounded like normal stereo to me. Dialogue is easy to hear and understand, but I feel this disc could have used a 5.1 Dolby Digital track, and I am disappointed with the surrounds.

There are a few goodies to satisfy us here. Most notable is a "Making Of" Documentary. It is an interesting watch, and basically shows the making of and what it takes to make a mini-series like Jason. Next is Cast and Crew Info, which has some bios for the cast. Rounding off the disc is "Notable and Quotable", which is a few pages of text from selected cast members and their expierences making "Jason and the Argonauts".

A very good mini-series, if you enjoyed it, pick it up. While the video is weird to say the least, the sound is plainfully average and there aren't many features, but what's included is better than nothing. If you enjoyed this to the extreme when played on TV or love Greek mythology, be sure to pick this one up.

(3.5/5, NOT included in final score)

(3.5/5)

(2.5/5)

(1.5/5)

(2.5/5, NOT an average)

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