Clash of the Titans (1981)

“Ah, dear — the young. Why do they never listen? When will they ever learn?”

Synopsis:
Zeus (Laurence Olivier) tries to help his mortal son Perseus (Harry Hamlin) save Princess Andromeda (Judi Bowker) from the wrath of jealous Thetis (Maggie Smith).

Genres:

Response to Peary’s Review:
This overblown fantasy epic — mixing “Shakespeare [with] Greek and Norse mythology” — is, as Peary notes, both too long and ultimately disappointing. The dialogue is uniformly trite and cliched (“So little time together — so little time!” Andromeda laments to Perseus); the acting by the two young lovers (especially Hamlin) is simply awful; Bubo the brass owl (an “embarrassing creation”) is a blatant rip-off of R2D2; and Burgess Meredith — playing Perseus’ earthly mentor, Ammon — is annoying rather than wise.

With that said, however, one watches Clash of the Titans either out of a sense of childhood nostalgia (which I’m lacking — I never saw it), or for the reliably stunning stop-motion effects by Ray Harryhausen. Particularly notable are both the enormous Kraken and the battling scorpions (but as impressive as Harryhausen’s snake-haired Medusa is, my vote still goes out to Tony Randall in The 7 Faces of Dr. Lao as the best movie incarnation of this hideous creature!). Equally noteworthy are the make-up and costumes in Titans, particularly those of the three blind Stygian Witches, whose empty eye sockets are truly creepy to behold. Overall, however, this big-budget film is still a major disappointment for those who remember the magic and wonder of Harryhausen’s earlier efforts.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • An all-star cast of gods and goddesses (including Olivier, Smith, and Clare Bloom), who occasionally rise above the material they are given
    Olivier
  • Some fun special effects (naturally) by Harryhausen
    Kraken

Must See?
No. While it holds some historical interest as a former blockbuster hit, it’s no longer must-see viewing.

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One Response to “Clash of the Titans (1981)”

  1. Not a must.

    Polished, earnest – and deadly dull.

    Rather colorful overall, a somewhat funereal mood is nevertheless established (albeit appropriately) early on. Unfortunately, the mood remains in place throughout; the film never escapes or recovers.

    Sad, really: a largely top-drawer cast laboring through performances that seem sewn into strait-jackets. Not that loosening up would have helped much, I suppose; the script is way too leaden anyway.

    I often hesitate to use the word ‘dated’ since so much of film can seem that way simply because of when it was made. But, due to what can be accomplished with visual effects as each year passes, it’s somewhat disheartening to see trailblazer Harryhausen’s work looking fundamental, a fact this dreary film points up.

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