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- Kaitheros vs Asag 'Choir of the Abyss' cover
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Salaruis Wins is a cross fictional, multiversal, satirical collab project between me and SirKaijuOfVaudeville.
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So, updating this journal on the butt end of July. Slow incremental progress on various projects so not much that I can show or are ready to show from those just yet. I did however see two major classic films for monster enthusiasts which coincidentally filled out a whole trilogy of sorts. So The Science Horror Odyssey continues with all three Titans films and the original Lost World.
Clash of the Titans 1981 - Finally getting to see this treasure was eye opening. It has some of the most iconic effects work by Harryhausen and while applying a personal spin on the myths (as Hollywood for better or worse is want to do) it doesn't tear it down into something its not either. The story is basically the retelling of Perseus's origin story, minus the part about his getting a big head and trying to fly to Olympus itself where upon his legend ends in personal tragedy (thorns...lots of them). There are a lot of film techniques scattered about this film that make it a joy to watch though the most dated looking one are the scenes in which Poseidon must 'release the kracken'. Aside from that it's quite a treat in execution and plot. In the original you get to see just what Bubo was and how much of an impact he had on the plot. To be blunt, Perseus would have failed without Bubo and there is a levity that the owl brings that I appreciated in the film. A major thing I took away from this film was how the Gods behaved and how they viewed mankind. It's fairly thought provoking to see the various gods play off each other and see that the Gods of Olympus are just as flawed as any regular person would be but also have a clarity and perspective of beings that have held creation together for thousands of years. I think the original film captures this aspect of the Greek Pantheon in an honest but fair way as while the Olympians are have personal priorities, they aren't extremely hedonistic or dogmatic about them. Reasonable Authority Figures make up the majority of the group. Even the most personal of conflicts the Gods involve themselves in carry a sensibility to them. Thetis is a good example of this as she allows Perseus's maiming of her son go unpunished because it would be just petty vengeance for a something Calibos brought on himself. Its not until she's personally insulted in her own temple that she punishes the people of Joppa with the threat of the Kracken. It might be a reflection of the times or script but the first Titans is a more positive and empathic film in which man with some help is able to face his challenges on his own to the point that it begins the heroic legacy that many other Greek heroes would follow. And Zeus (Laurence Olivier) applauds this as it means that they gods can step back and move on to other things. Just how a parent would be proud of their child finally striking out on their own. This for me created a 'lens' if you will of seeing the Titans films as various takes on the parenting experience. For the first Titans, it's an amicable passing of the torch.
Clash of the Titans 2010 - I think I covered this film before but after watching the original the perspective has changed somewhat. On the surface it's a remake of a classic film to engineer big dumb fun with crazy effects. But I've come the recognize that there is a severe character difference in the two that I think might generational. If the original Titans was a supportive if slightly overprotective parent aiding their kid grow strong enough to live on their own; the remake is an estranged and distant parent with cancer trying to reconnect with an angry, independent teenager in time to stop the house from burning down. It carries that hammy, gritty, sort of violence to it that 300 made exploitable throughout the entire film and it gives the film a character of violent, angry vagrant. Everything is dour, bleeding and dirty or about to be dour, bleeding and dirty. It just saps the humor and life out the whole grand setting and it's very stubborn about this. The memory of the previous generation represented by the cameo appearance of Bubo is met with curiosity but given a brush off with a spat of 'Leave it'. This tells the audience more than just a 'take that' or smartass ribbing of old 80's camp. It says in the span one scene that the film is not going to have light moments and that it views authority figures (represented by the Gods) as useless at best and a contemptible source of undermining at worst. Then of course there is Perseus himself who basically doing his best Kratos impression without actually being Kratos. He spends almost the entire film where hsi default mood is disgruntled, defiant, anger. The resolution isn't even that grand as you basically have Zeus agreeing to step back and let his son live his own life with fourth of the house left standing. Perhaps its a anger over the selfishness and incompetence of modern political leaders but the films ending leaves you with the idea that this generation is wants to do things their way even if it means getting utterly wrecked in the process of finding a solution.
Wrath of the Titans 2012 - I watched the sequel to the remake around the same time I saw the original Titans and the one word I can think of to sum up Wrath would be 'Apology'. Because that's largely how I saw the film in comparison to the first 2000's Titans. It makes an earnest attempt and I find that it's a more enjoyable film simply because it's not projecting raw RAEG every five minutes. Still plenty of dirt and olive oil but ironically Wrath feels like the setting has loosened up a bit and allowed itself to have more fun. Continuing with the parenting lens, Wrath is a solid decade after the teen (Perseus) left the house (Olympus) in tatters with distance given between the parent (Zeus) who's cancer is now terminal enough that he needs to share it (gods need prayer badly and Kronos is waking up). Perseus had a kid, lost his wife, is a respected member of the community and is basically enjoying being mortal. Zeus meanwhile has the very real problem of all the old magic falling apart and an ancient primordial being getting loose. The shining super armor has been removed (because like a lot of shit that stuff runs on prayers I suppose) and the gods are now down to Zeus, Poseidon, Hades and Ares. Ares is now the 'angry son guy' and serves as Perseus's foil in this film. Basically Perseus grew up matured while Ares didn't and he's butthurt about it. Hades is dour and selfish but not defacto evil and he eventually comes around in time to help our heroes stop Armageddon. Bubo, bless the tinker tottering buzzard, gets a more respectable nod as the brain banter buddy for Hephaestus. Who is basically an old crazy Tony Stark before there was Tony Stark. The film ends with every single god dead, the world saved, Perseus finally empathizing and understanding his father and ultimately mankind has to pick up the pieces on their own. It could be considered the reconciliation between the terminally ill father and the angry son now a man. I can't decide whether Kronos's depiction as giant thundering lava giant was lazy or as further commentary on how older generations fade out they become harder and harder to understand. Kronos shows no sign of being truly intelligent in human terms, just basically a living force of nature that can't be reasoned with. Either that or he has a severe case of dementia.
Ultimately I think the Titans films are an exploration of generational divides, freedom vs security, relationships parents have with their children and the legacy those parents leave behind to the succeeding generation. All hidden behind a campy, 'hambitious' and gritty exterior modeled after Greek Myth which to be fair has a lot of those themes woven into them. The first Titans stands very well on its own but for the remake I think its best viewed alongside it's sequel for a complete package and resolution. The sequel actually reintroduces elements from the original Titans into the remake while still keeping it's generational perspective. I still have to wonder if ancient Mediterranean countries knew what soap was as a lot of modern representations of them are always just CAKED in dirt and oil. It might be evolving into a trope in and of itself. Or already is one that I simply don't know about yet.
Aside from the Titans trilogy I also had the joy of watching the first take on The Lost World.
The Lost World 1925 - This would be the second film I have watched from that era where dialogue was delivered via text cards. However, The Lost World is more of a visual experience than Phantom of the Opera was and so a lot more is left to being inferred from the actor's gestures and visual cues. Following the plot of one of Arthur Conan Doyle's novels, the film follows a young Ed Malone (Lloyd Hughes), a browbeaten young journalist who literally stumbles into the expedition of Prof. Challenger (Wallace Beery) who believes there is a prehistoric time capsule of a place hidden up on an Amazonian plateau. Challenger while ridiculed for his 'insane' theories has the incentive of going of going in the first place thanks to a journal brought back from a lost expedition lead by the father of Paula White who has asked Challenger to help her find her father. Along for the ride are Sir John Roxton a sportsman who helps Ed get in when Challenger otherwise throws out the press. Also in attendance is Professor Summerlee who serves as Challenger's professional foil. Among other side characters are Challenger's butler Austin, a monkey named Jocko and a servant named...Zambo. I should probably mention that this is the first film I've seen with black face. That roughly describes Zambo's entire role which is used for comedy. Once the expedition actually gets underway, the crew follows the previous expeditions footsteps until they reach the plateau. Gaining entry via a fallen tree, the crew succeeds in stepping into the plateau. A development that seems to only infuriate the local wildlife such as an Ape-Man who developed a avid hatred for Ed and the infamous Brontosaurus who tosses the tree down the cliff and then continues to go about it's business. Among the other antagonists is the Allosaurus whose entire purpose in life seems to be killing every other living thing on the plateau. Seriously, this thing is a bonafide asshole. It brings down one dinosaur, only to lunge after another no more than a few seconds later. It picks a fight with the Brontosaurus, a fight it only survives by virtue of a nearby cliff. This is one of those hilariously awesome stop motion fight scenes where the Brontosaurus GOES FOR THE THROAT and would have probably taken down his attacker where it not for unstable footing. The Brontosaurus becomes trapped in a mud bank for the rest of the adventure. The Allosaurus meanwhile continues to terrorize the plateau. 'Shenanigans' ensue the develop the characters (of note are the increasing tally of every time Challenger makes Summerlee look like a huge incompetent nerd). The fate of Paula's father is discovered around the time Ed grows as a person and admits his feelings for Paula. Resulting in the series of events I can only conclude as the most gentlemanly of wing-man assists and general Bro-dom I've ever seen on film. Sir Roxton is a true man of caliber. The adventure concludes with the volcano erupting, the Allosaurus STILL ATTACKING THINGS even while shit is going down, fire everywhere, and the crew manages to hide in the caves to wait it out. The Plateau survives the dinosaurs go back to doing what they do. You discover that there is an entire pack of Allosaurus living on the plateau and that they are having cooked dinosaur for once. The crew escapes via a line made of sewn up hammocks but not after having to shoot the vengeance seeking Ape-man. The Brontosaurus is carted off to London but before it can be put on display, it escapes and proceeds to terrorize the city in a confused rage before going over the Tower Bridge's weight limit and collapsing the bridge. Challenger is aghast at what his efforts to prove his theories have cost, Ed finds out his fiancee is a fickle floozy who was just running him around in circles and thus is able to commit fully to Paula and vice-versa. Sir Roxton makes the most emotionally bro sacrifice I've seen in some time. And the Brontosaurus proceeds to swim back to where it came from, giving zero fucks about everything.
The film is said to be not entirely complete which is a shame because I'm sure some things could have been better explained or detailed on like why Zambo's arm is a in a sling the entire time he's on screen (one could consider the boulder fall onto the camp the reason for this but we don't see anything to connect the two visually). It was an enjoyable and somewhat illuminating film that has now made it into the list of classic films I've watched.