Thursday 10 November 2011

TOP 10 Epic Historical Action Movies

November sees the release of IMMORTALS – a pulse-pounding epic re-imagining of classic Greek myths, from the producers of 300. New Superman Henry Cavill stars as legendary hero Theasus, battling alongside an all-star cast that includes Frieda Pinto and Mickey Rourke. It’s the latest in a stream of recent action flicks based on past – whether the setting be ancient Greece (Troy), the Crusades (Kingdom of Heaven), or fictional locales like Middle Earth or the Hyborean Age, it seems hack and slash’em ups are all the rage in Hollywood. Let’s look ever ten of the best:

This fantasized account of the Battle of Thermopylae caused a stir in 2006 with its violent visual imagery replicating the Frank Miller’s graphic novel original. Gerard Butler starred as King Leonidas who leads his troop of 300 Spartan warriors into a hopeless battle against Xerxes’ mighty army of Persians.

The adaption of Homer’s Epic starred Brad Pitt as Achilles in a ten year battle against Eric Banner’s Hector. Diane Kruger played Helen, ‘the face who launched a thousand ships’ by running off with Trojan pretty-boy Paris (Orlando Bloom.) The battle comes to a head with the famous Greek ruse of the wooden horse. Total production costs were an epic $175,000,000, making it one of the most expensive of its time.

Kingdom of Heaven
Balian of Ibelin, a French blacksmith, travels to Jerusalem to do battle in the Crusade, in Ridley Scott’s blockbuster. Orlando Bloom played the lead role – this is the second of three films in this list in which he stars. Clearly he looks good in armour. Reportedly the 60 foot siege towers used in the film were built using 12th century technology.

Clash of the Titans (2010 and 1981)
Loosely based on the myth of Perseus (played by Sam Worthington and Harry Hamlin respectively) in his quest against the gods of the underworld. In the first adaption the fantasy creatures were created with stop motion animation, the later version used CGI. The jury is out as to which is better.

Conan the Barbarian (2011 and 1982)
Set in the Hyborian Age and based on Robert E. Howard's sword and sorcery adventures, an orphaned warrior goes on a quest to avenge the murder of his parents and his tribe coming against fantastical foes and terrible monsters along his way. Arnold Schwarzenegger played the original Conan and was set to return to the role until he became Governor of California. The role was reprieved by Gmae of Thrones star Jason Momoa in the recent remake, narrated by epic voice Morgan Freeman.

Lord of the Rings
Blockbuster adaption of J.R.R. Tolkien’s trilogy. Peter Jackson undertook one of the biggest and most ambitious film projects ever. All three films were made with the backdrop of New Zealand as Tolkien’s Middle Earth. The hobbit Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood) and his Fellowship set out to destroy the One Ring to ensure the defeat of its maker, the Dark Lord Sauron. It was awarded with 17 out of 30 Academy Awards it was nominated for. There are over 3000 special effect shots in the films.

Britain in A.D. 117, the sole Roman survivor of a Pict raid (Michael Fassbender) marches with the legendary Ninth Legion to take revenge in bloody slash ‘em up battle. The true fate of the Legion has recently been disputed by historians but most believe they were annihilated. Fassbender leads a cracking cast including Dominic West, Noel Clarke and Bond Girl Olga Kurylenko.

Solomon Kane
Another fictional Robert E. Howard character. One of Elizabeth I’s mercenaries in Africa meets the Devil’s Reaper and renounces bloodshed. He is forced to return to violence when a Puritan girl is slaughtered by the Sorcerer Malachi’s men. The movie was highly acclaimed for its bleak atmosphere and James Purefoy’s performance in the titular role. Its tagline was ‘Fight evil…with evil.’

The quintuple Oscar-winning epic tells the story of Maximus, a Roman General whose family is murdered and who is sold as gladiator when the corrupt son of the Emperor decides to take his father’s throne. Russell Crowe in lead role delivered quotable lines in abundance (‘what we do in life echoes in eternity’, ‘My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix Legions, loyal servant to the true emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife. And I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next.’ etc).

This 3D fantasy adventure film features the great Mickey Rourke as the diabolical King Hyperion, on the quest for to unleash the evil Titans to take revenge on the Olympian Gods. It’s down to Theseus (Henry Cavill) to protect his people with the help of a beautiful priestess (Frida Pinto) and the slave Stavros (Stephen Dorff.) Both beautiful and brutal, it’s rather intriguingly described by director Tarsem Singh as a ‘hardcore action film in the style of a Renaissance painting.’ We’ll have to agree with that one!

IMMORTALS is in UK cinemas November 11, 2011

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