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4.2 out of 5 stars134
4.2 out of 5 stars
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VINE VOICEon 28 March 2011
As a new breed of filmmakers had arrived on the scene to reinvent the fantasy genre, armed with a mix of traditional and cutting edge special effects, Ray Harryhausen was most certainly 'old school' and his final film as producer/animator looks an uneasy match between more polished looking filmmaking and - let's be honest - slightly outdated animation techniques. Viewing the film recently, it has to be said that some of the monsters in 'Clash of the Titans' are not Harryhausen's best and some animation looks oddly out of place with the rest of the film. As much as I love Harryhausen, and as much as I love 'Clash of the Titans', it was certainly time to go.

Saying that, however, 'Clash of the Titans' is a rollicking good yarn with lots of monsters in! And even though it looks a little creaky, some scenes are heart-stopping - especially the Medusa scene which has to be Harryhausen's finest moment. I forgot how atmospheric and creepy it was. I came face to face with Medusa at a Harryhausen exhibition a number of years ago and she is a wondrous and chilling creation.

The film itself is a series of fragmentary myths and legends healed onto a rather oddly structured quest movie. What should be the main bulk of the film (the search for Medusa and the race back to free Andromeda) actually transpires in the last 35 minutes of the movie. The first hour is taken up with Perseus solving the riddle to win Andromeda's hand in marriage. It's rather languid, but that's not a put down. The second half feels more rushed as a result.

The acting is, generally, fine. The Stygian Witches let the side down with lots of screeching and cackling and OTT campery. Harry Hamlin looks handsome and brings a quiet nobility to the role of Perseus, although he is never stretched as an actor. Judy Bowker - Andromeda - is flat out gorgeous and I don't care if she can act or not, frankly.

Well shot, magnificently scored by Laurence Rosenthal (the 2 disc edition of the score is available on Intrada records - check out their website) and crammed with enough magic, suspense, adventure and monsters to keep most people happy, Harryhausen's last hurrah is a fitting, timely, end to a great career.
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At the time regarded as a disappointment but now something of a minor classic whose reputation seems to have grown massively in the wake of its recent very loose remake, the original 1981 version of Clash of the Titans is far from the best of the Ray Harryhausen fantasy adventures. A lavish retelling of the Perseus and Andromeda myth with an ill-assorted all-star cast who mostly give the impression of slumming it - Laurence Olivier, Burgess Meredith, Maggie Smith, Claire Bloom, Ursula Andress, Flora Robson and a pre-L.A. Law Harry Hamlin - it drew unfavourable comparisons with Jason and the Argonauts on its original release and was overshadowed by the success of Raiders of the Lost Ark that Summer, but now its reputation seems safely assured in the memories of those who saw it often enough in their childhood to ensure its profitability.

Part of the appeal of Harryhausen's films, and the reason the special effects man is regarded as their auteur rather than their generally forgotten directors or his undervalued producer Charles H. Schneer, is their hand-crafted nature. The effects were never photo-realistic, but they created their own sense of magic even if the creatures were always in much sharper focus than the grainy live-action background shots. Despite having the biggest budget of any of his pictures - a then massive $15m that allowed Harryhausen to have assistants for the only time in his career - it has some of the weakest special effects in any Harryhausen film. The stop motion animation is still excellent, particularly Steve Archer's work on the flying horse Perseus, but the integration and compositing is often very poor, giving thick blue outlines to many of the `mythologicals' or setting them against especially grainy live action footage. As a film it's not at all bad, but as a swansong for one of the greatest special effects men of them all it does leave something to be desired.

It has that post-Star Wars problem of the obligatory robot sidekick, in this case a whirring mechanical owl that looks and sounds like something Oliver Postgate created for The Clangers, and despite having a fine cinematographer in Bond movie regular Ted Moore, the film has that flat, diffused and somewhat pallid look so many late-70s and early-80s films suffer from. While never as lethargic as Sam Wanamaker's pallid direction on Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger, Desmond Davis' direction is for the most part perfunctory and uninspired, only springing to life in the atmospheric scene in Medusa's lair or the grand finale, but it does have a strong script (despite screenwriter Beverley Cross' wife Maggie Smith's comments dismissing it as a bit of rubbish) and the design of the film is often pleasingly inspired by both the Fairbanks and Korda versions of The Thief of Bagdad - the shots of Perseus riding Pegasus across the skyline of Joppa could come right off the poster of the silent version. It's a look that may have made it a little anachronistic on first release but now gives it an old world movie charm that makes it look a lot less dated than many of its contemporaries. And at its best it does recapture a sense of wonder that makes it repaying a return visit: it's not one of the all-time great fantasies despite the material, but it is an enjoyable one.

The DVD release has an acceptable but unspectacular transfer that the poor BluRay release completely fails to improve on, with only an interview with Harryhausen as extra.
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on 22 March 2010
Seeing this a long time after the event, I was initially struck by how dated it seemed. Having said this, Ray Harryhausen's stop-motion creatures still look great, the Medusa especially, and despite the overly groomed and extravagantly coiffured look that is showcased by the cast, Harry Hamlin, Maggie Smith, Laurence Olivier and co do a good job with a fairly poor script. Once things get going the story zips along, and for its age it actually stands up very well.
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on 3 May 2006
I hate it when people moan on how out of date this brillant film is, how the moan on about how bad the visuals are, but with out this film and many other of Ray's film effects we would not have the likes of Peter Jacksons "King Kong" today.

Look at the films good points, good story, brillant actors, fanatastic monsters.

This film is a classic and should be respected as one.

Show it your children and let then marvel in a hey day of exellent films made to keep you on the edge of your seat as a child.

One of my all time greats and a treasured memory too.
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on 19 May 2015
By answering a seemingly impossible riddle, Perseus, the son of Zeus, wins the hand of the Princess Andromeda in marriage.

Trouble appears in the shape of Calibos, the princess's former love, and his mother, the Goddess Thetis.

In order that the dreaded Kraken not be released, Andromeda has to be sacrificed and Perseus searches for the Medusa; her head is the only thing that can stop the Kraken...

Greek mythology is a thing of wonderment, anyone can tell you a story about a part beast, part human being with powers that would kill a mortal man until the cows come home, and it wouldn't be boring, all you need is a good moral, set up, and a good wholesome hero.

Which this film has in droves. Admittedly, the first act is a little bit on the boring side, with Laurence Olivier loving every minute playing the God of Gods and barking orders to everyone while sitting in front of some nice strobe lighting.

When the second act starts, thats when the film picks up and we get to see what we all wanted to see, stop-motion monsters!! We do get a sub-plot featuring Burgess Meredith as a sort of ancient Greek Micky, giving advice to Hamlin, but we are more interested in his quest to feat the Kraken.

It runs at an okay pace, but it's just too campy to be boring in any way. So we follow Hamlin on his adventure, along with Pegasus and a robotic owl that is in no way based on R2-D2.

the set pieces are great, and the Medusa scene is still as eerie and tense as i can remember it to be. Although it's not a classic movie, it's still fun and scary in places, but predictably some of the effects look a little dated now, but they still work in some scenes.

A good old fashioned adventure movie.
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on 23 March 2014
I originally owned this title when it was released on VideoDisc prior to CGI taking hold, where it stood up reasonably well against the films of the time. However, despite the story still being entertaining in its innocence the effects cannot stand up to scrutiny and are positively poor on some occasions. This is not helped by the digital enhancement of the film which in some scenes benefit hugely and yet in others only emphasise the grain and shortcomings of the effects ie. glaring matte lines, inconsistent black densities and woeful match-moving.
It is still a credit to Ray Harryhausen though and his stop motion creatures as he was only too aware by this time of what was about to sweep the film industry. If all the original film elements could be pulled together and remastered along with true surround sound then it would make for a more engaging experience, but of course what could not be done would be to replace Harryhausen's work with CGI, as although it would be more realistic, it would miss the point entirely.
The audio on this disc is DTS-HD MA 2.0 for the English track with Dolby Digital for other languages. Puzzlingly, bitstreaming audio of the main feature only is not possible. This may be your player's default setting so you may have to adjust the DTS audio setting to output PCM as you will probably hear nothing and think you have a faulty disc.
Superbly underrated score from Laurence Rosenthal conducting the London Symphony Orchestra and a stellar cast warrants a film worthy of full restoration but I fear this is as close as we'll get in the quality stakes.
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on 20 March 2011
What a pity that such a visually interesting film has been let down by such a poor transfer. The picture is bright... but h-o-r-r-i-b-l-y grainy. Some of the shots with the sky in the background are crawling with interference and look ghastly. Buy the DVD instead.
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on 30 April 2010
After seeing the remake which was mildly interesting but soulless compared to this original, I would compel anyone to buy this. Ray Harryhausen - Olivier - Maggie Smith - countless other legends... it's such a compelling film and harryhausen is truly the master that Jackman wonders at. These guys knew how to tell a story. the new remake is a pale comparison. This is the stuff of my childhood - I challenge you to introduce your kids to this one too!

When the remake surpasses the original it's a worthy film. this piece proves that on a low budget with limited funds you really can create magic that will last for decades to come.

Mr Harryhausen, you were and still are THE MAN!!
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Re-released in DVD to coincide with the cinematic release of the special effects and 3D laden remake, Clash of the Titans was the last film from the God of all special effects masters, Ray Harryhausen.

Full of charm and magical special effects, it tells the story of Perseus and his quest to save the beautiful Andromeda from the Kraken and the wrath of the Gods. Along the way he must overcome the Witches of Stygia, the hideously deformed Calibos and the Gorgon Medusa. Aided by gifts from his doting father (Zeus, played by a hammier than usual Laurence Olivier) such as the Pegasus, a clockwork owl and helmet of invisibility, Perseus lurches from one adventure to another in his attempt to save his beloved.

There are several well known names appearing in this film, but the real star of the show is Ray Harryhausen's special effects. Though they now look a little quaint and outdated compared t modern computer effects, I still find them full of charm and imbued with a depth and life that is always missing from CGI's. And you have to admire the craftsmanship, imagination and sheer hard work that went into creating them.

Presented in 1.85:1 aspect ratio with a stereo soundtrack, the picture quality is OK, and the sound fairly clear. There is an interview with Harryhausen as an extra, which is very interesting. As good a release as you will find for this entertaining family classic.
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on 14 June 2014
A modern classic retelling of the Greek myth that tells the tail of the return of the Son of Zues, king of the Gods, Perseus, and the hero's great journey to save the life of his wife and true love Andromeda from death at the hands of the great Titan known as the Kraken.

A wonderfully cast and spun tail from my childhood that features quite a few of England's best performers, excellent costumes, locations and the spectacular special effects are brought to life by the FX Titan of stop motion animation work that is Ray Harryhausen. As with all great movies the music sets the scene and we are given yet another classic opening theme tune that will stay with you for ever.

Just about every scene is packed with famous faces, Maggie Smith, Laurence Olivier, Pat Roach and Burgess Meredith as a wise old sage that is to Perseus and Obi-Wan Kenobi is to Luke Skywalker.

The true stars though of this movie are the creature creations by Harryhausen. He brings winged horse Pegusus, the Titan that is the Kraken, Medusa and many other beings to life with his wisdom and knowledge decades before modern CGI was even thought of.

I recently saw the new version of this old tail and I will say this, it is not a patch on this one. So give the new one a miss and get this one instead.

Truly still an excellent film after all this time. Enjoy!
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