on 18 January 2006
I can remember watching this film for the first time when I was about 8 and being totally blown away by it. Even now when I watch it, it holds up really well against modern cgi because it is so fast paced. The story is based on Jason's journey to find the legendary golden fleece so after he gathers together a motley band of sailors for his ship 'The Argo' off he goes. The stop frame animation is superb and the battle with the skeletons towards the end of the film has not been surpassed. A talking figurehead on the boat, giant flying fruit bat type demons, neptune rising from the ocean are just a few of the myriad of characters from Greek mythology that star in this creation. There is a great sense of forboding in this film and even though you know he gets the fleece in the end, it does not make the journey any less entertaining. A classic, and much better than Clash of The Titans which was a later film using the same animator. They did produce a made for TV Jason & the argonoughts in the 90's which I thought would have surpassed the original from the 60's but no it was rubbish. I highly recommend this film to everyone.
on 29 June 2012
Jason And The Argonauts is probably the best known Ray Harryhausen film and features his most impressive work. To children who have grown up with CG, the effects in Jason probably look terribly unconvincing, but to anyone of a certain age, they were, at the time magical. Of all the 'Dynamation' films, Jason has to be my absolute favourite. Made the year before I was born, 1963, it is still, after 49 years, an incredible film to watch, even more so now it's available on Blu-Ray.
The quality of some Blu-Ray releases is pretty atrocious, but considering it's age, Jason looks nothing short of amazing. I have a 50" Panasonic t.v. and watching it for the very first time in HD is like seeing a completely different film. The image is relatively sharp, colors are rich and vibrant and blacks are suitably dark.
Some reviews have mentioned levels of noticeable grain, especially during effects shots, but this is simply the result of the effects process used at that time. This grain would have been visible on cinema screens at the time of the films original release.
Bernard Herrman was a key figure in several Dynamation pictures, providing scores that complemented the images on screen perfectly, so it's great to hear the wonderful score for Jason in full 5.1 audio for the first time.
Although Ray Harryhausen would go on to provide effects for several Sinbad films and the original Clash Of The Titans, it will undoubtedly be Jason And The Argonauts that he will be remembered for. The skeleton battle near the end of the film contains the best animation of his career and is beautiful to watch.
on 28 October 2007
I've loved this film since I was a kid, and the crowning glory is Harryhausen's stop-motion animation.
As a family adventure film, I'm convinced there is nothing finer. People of all ages can enjoy this film, and if they don't, they're either utterly cynical about everything and anything, or there is something wrong with them.
The title of this review naturally refers to the skeleton fight scene. If this film comes on and I'm busy, I will drop everything to watch this scene, even if I haven't had the time to see the rest of the movie. The moment the skeletons come out of the ground is unforgettable, and the animation is blended beautifully with the live action to create a scene that is as near to cinematic heaven as you can get. I've seen it re-done twice, once in Hercules (the dodgy TV series), and again in the Jason and the Argonauts mini-series. Both times CGI effects were used, and both times, despite the animators' best efforts, neither came close to the original masterpiece.
This whole film, and the skeleton scene in particular, highlights the fact that despite some of the wonders being done with CGI (and I'm not anti-CGI in the least), sometimes there's just no substitute for proper stop motion animation. (Just ask Wallace and Gromit!)
It's cheap- buy it and enjoy it!
on 16 July 2010
Don Chaffey's 1963 epic which many remember fondly as boasting some of Ray HarryHausen's best stop motion work finally arrives on blu-ray, and only one word can describe it, Glorious!
I always have mixed feelings when something as old as this recieves the blu-ray treatment. there either seems to be a tendency to overcompensate for the age and grain of the picture by employing heavy DNR that destroys the intended look, or a tendency to pretty much leave it at DVD quality. But the recent clash of the titans blu ray release was a pleasant surprise, no heavy digital tinkering, just superbly remastered, authentic, and fresh looking with a great lossless dts stereo track.
I'm pleased to say that Jason and the Argonauts follows this trend, and improves upon it oustandingly. This is a truly great 1080p 1.66:1 framed transfer boasting superb levels of detail that bring this legendary picture alive like you have never seen. Yes, certain scenes are rough and grainy looking, probably most evident in olympus and certain creature shots, but this is not a transfer that attempts to digitally alter a film to the standard of recent releases with noise reduction and endless polishing. This is a transfer that has restored and remastered a classic with great authenticity to the source print, yet providing a genuine hi-def look that is really quite eye catching throughout. It's incredible to think at some points that you are watching something made in 1963! Skin tones are natural, colours are vibrant and bright, black levels are extremely impressive, and the general detail is extremely crisp and detailed, yet ALL without sacrificing the look of the film. And even though generally the effects shots tend to suffer most from the grain, they still show incredible detail compared to previous releases.
One thing to note is that because of the faithful representation of the original aspect ratio, the film places very thin vertical black bars on either side of the 1.78:1 display. However it is barely evident on most modern widescreen tvs, you really have to look for it to even see it, and this is well worth having a faithful representation of the original film.
The soundtrack is an impressive DTS HD Master 5.1 surround track, which whilst not utilising the rear surround speakers extensively, provides an immersive track. Herrman's score sounds amazing with it's basey pounding drums and rhythmic trumpets, and the general sound levels are extremely impressive. Dialog is clear and audible, even the whisperings of the gods themselves, and the sea roars and thunders the bottom end with great rumbling effect.
As if all that wasn't good enough there's also for the first time a commentary by peter jackson (a long time fan of stop motion and harryhousen's work) film historians, and the maestro himself, Ray HarryHousen which is both insightful and entertaining. There's the original skeleton fight storyboards, interviews with harryhousen by john landis (from the old dvd release) harryhousen chronicles, and harryhousen legacy featurettes.
All in all this is a fantastic release, given the treatment it so rightly deserves - unquestionably THE version to own.
on 27 September 2000
Many adults, when asked to choose their favourite films, will forego latter-day classics and opt for a film which made a lasting impression on them as a child. 'Jason And The Argonauts' was my favourite boyhood film; at the age of 9, the spectacle and fantasy which unfolded before my eyes at the Odeon, Gateshead on a dark November night enthralled like no previous film had done. I thrilled to the moment when Talos, the giant bronze statue, climbed down from his pedestal and I fought countless times in my imagination with Jason and his men against the fiendish 'Children of the Hydra's Teeth' - the living skeletons. There is more to 'Jason' than just evoking past memories of boyhood however: as an adult I can watch and enjoy the film on its own merits. I admire the unbelievable special effects work of Ray Harryhausen, a master of his craft whose influence can be seen in Star Wars and countless other fantasy and sci-film pics, and am always impressed by the work of the excellent British supporting cast. Niall McGinnis is a marvellous Zeus, far superior to the image later created by Laurence Olivier in 'Clash Of The Titans'; Nigel Green is a very British Hercules, and the much under-rated Gary Raymond radiates slyness and deceit as Acastus. The only real flaw in the movie is the somewhat wooden acting of the two lead players, but perhaps Todd Armstrong and Nancy Kovack are shown up by the excellence of the support. 'Jason' led me to seek Harryhausen's other works and I became a great admirer of the man's work; but 'Jason' stands as the best example, not only because of the effects, which are among Harryhausen's finest, but because it is a good story, told at a rattling good pace, with some fine acting from the supporting cast, good locations and above all it has the FEEL that you are in back in ancient Greece, which other films fail to capture.
on 18 February 2001
Having just acquired a DVD player I quickly set about obtaining copies of my favourite films, Argonauts being one of them. This really is a great film: superb sets & effects, decent acting, and an intelligent screenplay. Even when taking into account the age of the film and the limitations of the stop-frame animation, I was really disappointed with the quality of the "print" in several scenes. Surely a better copy could have been obtained? On a plus point the extras are good and informative but the biographies of the leads are a waste of space. In comparison, and also released by Colombia Pictures, The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad is top-quality.
on 28 July 2014
My copy of the Blu-ray was released by SONY in 2010 for the US and Canadian markets.
The Blu-ray case claims that the film has been "Mastered in High Definition" which is not the same thing as being "digitally restored". Films touted as having been "mastered" or even "remastered" are simply ones that have been newly copied from an old print, the original negative or perhaps an intermediate positive. There is nothing "restored" about them.
Amazon UK is offering the Blu-ray (2010) and two DVDs - one from UCA (2005) and the other from Sony (2010).
Since I own both the Blu-ray and a DVD I'm in a position to offer an informed opinion.
The original movie was filmed in "Eastmancolor by Pathe" which is considered by some to be inferior to Technicolor. This may be part of the problem. However, film stock aside, the scenes are of variable quality. Those shot in the studio are generally better than those shot outdoors (where there was less light control). With double photography scenes, it is the background which suffers. This is particularly so when actors appear with the Harryhausen models: the models are clear but the actors are blurred. (This is not something to be improved with a transfer to Blu-ray.)
Bearing the above comments in mind, the Blu-ray has some greater color saturation but at the cost of less brightness and a certain image blandness compared to the comparative harshness of the DVD.
The opening scene (with Pelias and the augur/Hermes) takes place in daytime but the second scene - according to the dialogue - takes place at night. The DVD only (slightly) darkens the second scene: the Blu-ray darkens both scenes and so excessively that it's difficult to see what's going on.
The Blu-ray has only English audio and English subtitles. The DVD has English, French, German, Italian and Spanish audio, and 20 subtitle options.
All of the principal actors were from the British Isles - except for Todd Armstrong and Nancy Kovack. Todd Armstrong (from Missouri) was dubbed by the British actor Tim Turner and Nancy Kovack by Eva Haddon from the BBC.
Laurence Naismith - a former merchant marine seaman - was somewhat typecast to play Argus, the builder and helmsman of the Argo. He had already run a Congo river steamer aground in "Mogambo" (1953), sunk the Titanic in "A Night to Remember" (1958), and managed to "Sink the Bismarck!" (1960).
on 12 May 2014
Good transfer to Blu-Ray,this remains an absolute gem,state of the art stop/go animation by the master of the technique the legendary Ray Harryhausen featuring the mythical Gods and monsters of the Greek legends,from the Harpies to Neptune,culminating in the stunning climactic battle with the skeleton warriors. Less successful,it must be said.is the casting of a very wooden Todd Armstrong in the title role,although balanced out overall by the great British supporting cast including Honor Blackman as Hera and as her consort Zeus,the great Niall Macginnis, among the crew,Nigel Green,Laurence Naismith,Andrew Faulds, to name a few! The production values are good,as are the locations, costumes and art direction. Of course, it has dated, compared to the C.G imagery of today,but anyone who,like me,fondly remembers the cinema of the Fifties and Sixties,it stands the test of time.
Now 40 years old, this popular film makes a welcome addition to the ever growing DVD catalogue. Filmed in Italy with an astounding cast, it never fails to entertain. What I like about this disc is that it contains interviews with Ray Harryhausen who explains how his interest in dynamation came about. He has certainly left his mark on the cinema. My only reservation about this disc though is that picture quality is rather inconsistant. Some scenes show excellent detail, but others are rather grainy. Still, sound is more than acceptable and it shouldnt put off cinema enthusiasts like myself. I wish I could have given it a five, but inconsistant picture lowers its markings. A good buy though, and still enjoyable even after all these years. Look out for the rising of Neptune out of the sea in the thrilling "Clashing Rocks" sequence; the capture of the "Harpies"; and even more frightening, the 100 foot tall Talos, one of the Titans.
on 5 February 2008
This film despite it's age is absolutely captivating, I thoroughly agree with the other reviews. The animation is wonderful, I loved Ray Harreheusens style of animation, anyone who has watched this film can never forget the sight of the giant titan Talos coming to life and chasing Jason and his men, that image has stuck with me for over 25 years. I was so please that my 8 year old son, was able to enjoy this film just as I did when I was his age. It is timeless, it captures the imagination of kids 30 years ago and I am sure of kids 30 years from now. But it's appeal is that it can be enjoyed by boths kids and adults, this is Greek mythology bought to film and done extremely well. Well worth the money, you will not be disappointed.