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Star Trek – Who Mourns For Adonais? (Review)

The first Star Trek pilot, The Cage, was produced in 1964. To celebrate its fiftieth anniversary, this December we are reviewing the second season of the original Star Trek show. You can check out our first season reviews here. Check back daily for the latest review.

In many respects, Who Mourns for Adonais? is a formative episode for Star Trek as a franchise. It’s a show that really informs a lot of the franchise that would follow, even beyond the confines of the original television show. It’s an episode that represents the first clear articulation of a strand of thought that has been bubbling away through the first season of Star Trek and into the second, exploring the religious side of the Star Trek universe and mankind’s place in the cosmos.

The episode is iconic and memorable. It is packed with images that are familiar to even the most casual of fans. “Kirk confronts a Greek god in deep space!” is a catchy premise. “A giant hand grabs the Enterprise and threatens to crush the ship!” is the type of delightfully insane visual that ranks with “Captain Kirk as a Nazi!” or “space Lincoln!” when it comes to Star Trek visuals that stick with people outside the context of the show itself. Coupled with the distillation of those themes, this is a “big” episode.

"Jack, I'm flying!"

“Jack, I’m flying!”

Unfortunately, Who Mourns for Adonais? is also a deeply troubling episode. It has problems heaped upon problems. Some of those problems are inherited from the general aesthetic of the show, and are not specific to this episode. However, some of those problems are explicitly articulated here. Who Mourns for Adonais? is an episode that embodies quite a few of the very serious problems that run through the original Star Trek and haunt the franchise for quite some time.

The fact that these problems come baked into an iconic and memorable episode is disappointing.

"Oh, your gods..."

“Oh, your gods…”

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Hey Zeus, Meet Jesus: Wrath of the Titans & Judeo-Christian Archetypes…

Somewhere, an expert on Ancient Greek mythology is crying. Probably a lot of experts on Ancient Greek culture. As enjoyable as Wrath of the Titans might be in offering charming (if a little shallow) spectacle, it doesn’t necessarily offer the most faithful depiction of Ancient Greek deities. It isn’t the only film to get things drastically wrong – Disney’s Hercules comes to mind. Presenting these mythical characters and creatures for modern audiences and sensibilities, the archetypes are skewed and twisted to conform to religious associations which most audience members might find familiar. In particular, these sorts of films often adopt a decidedly Judeo-Christian view of Ancient Greek gods. However, watching Wrath of the Titans, I couldn’t help but feel that the film was not only acutely aware of that narrative shortcut, but perhaps even cleverly exploiting it – developing the character arc of these ancient gods and transitioning them into the archetypes that we know and recognise.

Oh my gods...

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Non-Review Review: Clash of the Titans

It has been a couple of years since the last proper swords-and-sandals epic. It’s hard to look past the glossy stylised design of 300 and the discussions of racial politics which surrounded it. Troy and Alexander were hardly solid examples of the genre which had been at the height of its popularity more than half a century ago. Aside from Gladiator, it’s hard to point to another big screen classical action movie that manages to do what it says on the tin. Although it’s a long way from perfect, Clash of the Titans at least delivers the intriguing visuals and impressive action that one expects from the genre. I was pleasantly surprised. 

A friendship in ruins...

 

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