Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Clash of the Titans (1981) Review:

Every culture has their own legendary stories or epics. The most common of cultures that writers and filmmakers look at are from early Roman and Greek mythology. There's something about the ancestry of man at that time, in that location, of which intrigues peoples. It could be as complex as the pagan beliefs and laws or as simple as the way clothing was worn. The reasoning behind the gravitation towards this culture is less clear than the subject at hand itself (which is quite honestly weird). Nevertheless, there have been adaptations to the screen before this one based on this topic, but this particular adventure film is different for a number of reasons. It's still not perfect but is hard not to like.

Harry Hamlin & Judi Bowker
Viewers will be introduced to Perseus (Harry Hamlin), an abandoned boy who is saved by Zeus, king of the gods. Apparently, Perseus is also the son of Zeus, which  kind of puts the story of Hercules into question. As Perseus grows up, Zeus informs him of his journey that'll make him great and forever make him a staple in history. The weird thing is, Perseus just accepts this. Obviously, the belief of signs and omens were highly regarded back then, but not even a hint of doubt comes into his mind. You know this could all be a trick Perseus? Besides, before being told about his possible future, Perseus lives the life of luxury as it was. What if he was lazy and decided that he didn't feel a need to take on this opportunity that the Gods presented to him? Then what?

There are also several other little things that clearly were not verified in the screenplay that Beverly Cross wrote. Cross was also behind the more popular Jason and the Argonauts (1963). This is not to say that all of the writing doesn't make sense, it just contains strange truths that aren't confirmed until after the claim is made. The story does however have good pacing and keeps the spirit of adventure and discovery high. Surprisingly there are also a couple of parallels that can be drawn to Disney's Hercules (1997). Some being that Hercules and Perseus fight giant creatures, ride a flying horse named Pegasus, were the son of Zeus and most visible are the three blind witches that look into an all seeing eye (and they sound like them from Hercules (1997) too!). Did Disney take inspiration from this movie? The cast is another element to make note of - some went on to be known for other roles or were already known, while others disappeared completely.

The completely vanished group belongs to the main stars, Harry Hamlin and his love interest played by Judi Bowker. These two do contain a filmography history but didn't bother go on to anything big even though this movie performed well. But the section of cast that did flourish or was already well known were Maggie Smith (who plays in the Harry Potter series), Ursula Andress (she didn't move on far but was known for her 007 roles) and Burgess Meredith (from the Rocky series). However, these are not the only stars on the screen. One of the key highlights to the film is effects master Ray Harryhausen's creature stop-motion animation. Of course by today's standards it seems out of date but that's because of the limited technology at the time.

In fact, there's a good portion of the film that still looks rather decent as old as it is. The most memorable scene of the film would be the battle of Perseus Vs Medusa. My favorite was Bubo the mechanical Owl. As Mr. Harryhausen's last film, it shows he went all out in effort to impress. Harryhausen also was the guy behind the effects in Jason and the Argonauts (1963). Timothy Gee, although doesn't have a big resume for films, effectively edited the film so that it cuts between live-action and stop-motion without losing the illusion. Finally, I was surprised in Laurence Rosenthal's score. For a composer who spent most of his time doing TV music, is not half bad. It had a theme to Perseus and it sounded very heroic. It wasn't memorable but it did match the mood of the film easily. Watch more for nostalgic reasons if nothing else.

It lacks clarity for certain truths and its main character seems to have no humanity for he just follows what the Gods say. But as a whole, the special effects, although now considered old, are still great to watch, it has a decent cast and it’s a steady moving adventure.

Points Earned --> 7:10

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