Forgotten Gems: Clash of the Titans

Thanks for checking out my review in a new feature I like to call Forgotten Gems.

The film I want to review today is not unheard of, but many people under the age of 30 may have never seen it or maybe tripped over it as the movie of the week on PBS. Which means you still haven’t seen it.

Today, the movie I want to review is Clash of the Titans.

THE GENERAL IDEA

This 1981 film tells the tale of the Greek Gods of Olympus and the specific story of Perseus. This spans his adventures of defeating Calibos, capturing the heart of Princess Andromeda as well as facing the Kracken and the gorgon Medusa.

THE GOOD STUFF

The effects are half of the fun in watching this. The stop-motion model animation and poor green-screening almost give credit to the charm of this film. Still, the epic tale is told so cleanly.

The scenes with the Gods are always a display of their power, pure and unaccounted. The transitions of the story told from the seat of the Gods as the story unfolds to the mortal realm is inspired. Every scene is delivered like a Shakespearean play with little musical score until there is a true moment of plot that requires its punctuation.

The casting was great. When they called a man blessed for his handsome face, he was. Andromeda is considered the most beautiful of mortals, and she is a vision. You really feel the status of these heroes as they own up in appearance and presence. Even the clockwork golden owl Bubo is brought along for comic relief that doesn’t come off as childish or camp. And no greater presence in his day, Laurence Olivier as Zeus Himself!

Keep an eye out for the playwrite and side kick to Perseus played by Rocky’s coach (and the Penguin) Burgess Meredith. Also the goddess Thetis, mother of Calibos is played by Harry Potter’s Professor McGonagall, Maggie Smith (who was quite striking in her day).

THE BAD STUFF

The story may hold up to the ravages of time, but the effects don’t. I commented that these dated effects are truly weak (by today’s standards) but they once served as the swan song of Ray Harryhausen, who not long after this film retired from movie effects. Perhaps he felt he would never top himself. At the time that this came out these effects were groundbreaking. But now in the light of so many effects that make the impossible look real, the effects in Clash of the Titans might be a distraction.

Typically this is where John or Doug would write a “Out of 10″ rating, but since all of these Forgotten Gems are going to be what I would rate a 8, 9 or 10, I have made my own rating system.

TV – Make a point of watching it if you see it listed on TV.
Rent – Good enough to go out of your way to see it, but not enough to buy it.
Buy – So good. You will watch it again and again. Buy it!

So on a scale of TV, Rent or Buy I give Clash of the Titans a BUY!

A true classic that was not only an epic tale worthy of re-telling, but also an effects benchmark that makes this a worthy addition to your collection, if only for its collector’s value.

Watch it, and you will watch it again!

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21 thoughts on “Forgotten Gems: Clash of the Titans

  1. Clash of the Titans was great back in the 80’s. I always thought that this movie would be a great idea for a remake! I would keep most of the story intact, with updated effects.

    Who would star?
    Would you put Brad and Angelina in the movie as Perseus and Andromeda? Too bad that Sean Connery has retired, he would be a great Zeus…

  2. Well some of us whipper snappers might get MAD that you assume we are too young to have seen this in theaters. And I capitalized MAD because I am also old enough to know where your screen name came from. lol

    Clash of the Titans was not a throwback. In 1981 there were no movies with effects better than this. It wasn’t until 1984 with movies like Star Wars when the effects barrier was torn wide open with giant monsters like the Rancor. (which was just a puppet filmed in slow motion)

  3. Actually, I think I remember reading somewhere that this movie is an intentional throwback to those stop motion epics of yore (Jason & Argonauts, etc.). I saw this movie in the theater before you whipper snappers were born, and 1981 effects in other films were certainly more advanced (I didn’t say less crappy!) than this one. Clash was an homage …

  4. I’m sorry that I mention the effects in this movie are “crap”. I am also sorry that I offended some of my international friends, especially BT, Robert Forest, Rodney. please accept my sincere apology.

    I didn’t intend to use the word “crap” in a purely negative manner. what I meant by “crap” was the movie’s fx compared to TODAY’s movies’ fx.

    the advancement of visual fx today comes from years and years of movie fx. and most likely, some of the wizards of today’s visual fx started their love and passion upon seeing this movie as a kid.

    I agree with BT’s point. the fx today will be very much outdated in the years to come and my bet is our grandchildren might have a discussion on this issue one day. perhaps on the Transformers movie and say how lame it was. who knows right? there is a big possibility there.

    I also agree with another of his good point – the artistry and soul of the movie is what matters. the fx just spices it up to make the artistry shine and the soul of the movie to come alive.

    I know I should have used a better word to describe the fx. again, I humbly apologize to those I’ve offended here. forgive me.

    thank you, international friends.

    and before I end, let me say this – I love this movie!

  5. Got to agree with how awesome the Gods were in this movie. Laurence Olivier. They got Laurence freakin’ Olivier to play Zeus. Almost as cool as getting Orson Welles to play Unicron.

    I was lucky enough to see this on the big screen a few years back, loved it as a child, love it just as much as an adult.

  6. The effects are likely the only thing that this next generation will find as a flaw to this film. I think it adds to the charm and magic of the story (as I stated above)

    The effects were beyond cutting edge for their time. Compare these to some earlier stop motion stuff and you can see it is damned near perfect. However in a day and age where many effects are so photoreal and perfect that they don’t even look like effects some people will be put off by the distraction.

    But mark my words, the effects were incredible for their time and still hold up today. I have seen some movies where the effects are just sad and knowing they could do THIS in 1981 makes me wonder why.

  7. Wow. I believe that Azizan was the only one who said that the fx were “crap”. The rest of us, including Rodney said that they are brilliant or didn’t make our thoughts about the fx totally apparent. So maybe you just need to settle a little.

  8. This is an uphill battle, but I can’t just let it go. You people are nuts to say “the effects are crap.” Those scenes are some of the best stop motion animation ever done. I can’t imagine how anybody could love movies and still write those scenes off as “crap.”

    Sure, if your standard is that it must look as photorealistic as possible by modern technology then they are “crap.” But if you view movies as an artform or even just as a craft then of course you can appreciate amazing work even after new technology has been invented. Are the effects in the original King Kong “crap” too? How about Star Wars? Won’t Gollum seem like “crap” in 20 years too if you’re just going by technology and not artistry or soul?

    Today’s most expensive effects movie still don’t look real and cause people to complain about CGI. Almost none of them have even a small percentage of the personality, beauty and obvious skill put into these amazing scenes.

    I don’t mind a remake because it would be very hard to have a worse star and more boring story than the original, but the effects make it a risky venture. Without groundbreaking WETA-level effects it will seem pretty worthless. A CGI medusa may or may not look more real, but I will be very surprised if it looks cooler. And when you watch that scene you can’t help but wonder how the hell they kept track of which direction to move each snake each time they advanced a frame. With CGI you know they just had a program to do it.

  9. wow, great post. i can’t wait to see more of these posts, and see what other gems you might dig up from the desert to give to the international freinds.

  10. wow….I saw this movie back when I was in primary school and begged my dad to buy the video. I didn’t get the video though :(

    but while I was doing my degree, I was fortunate enough to see the movie’s disc on sale. having no money at that time, I borrowed from my friends and man…it was worth it!

    I watched it again and again. sure the effects are crap but who cares? I love that movie! makes me a kid again every time I see it. and now, I’m passing the torch to my 14 year old cousin – who also loves that movie upon seeing it the first time.

    anyways, thank you for your review of this old “classic”. Zeus rules!

  11. I had this on DVD for quite some time, and while I don’t think it ever aired on PBS , when I was a pre-teen in the 80’s, I was really into Greek mythology and storytelling, so this was always a fun film for me. (Although I loved Dragonslayer better, which was released in the same year)

    The best part of the film was Medusa, hands down.

    And yes, the film is a prime canidate for a remake. I’d prefer a redo of Sinbad and The Eye Of The Tiger but I’m game for this. It doesn’t even have to be an exact remake; we are dealing with Greek mythology here.

  12. I love the part in Clash where he’s climbing the cliff and the bridge with the cars are in the background. Haha.

    Great movie, we watched it in school for drama actually, when learning about Greek theater. At least I think that’s when we watched it.

  13. hahah lettier is a hack to…peter jackso was really the last derictor to woo the fan boi drowd….good lick hulk 2* sucked IMO…simple case of feelings…when i left iron man i called all my friends…when i left hulk i said meh a little better then the crappy first….least the first ended its last cool scene in a cool city san francisco…l.too bad location doesnt make it good……..just common in the days of mass media

  14. As you suggest Jackson to do it has a lot to do with the current trend in films. When a movie of such grandeur is considered (Lord of the Rings etc) it is important to find a balance of great effects and good storytelling.

    Yes, they could get a hack making this nothing but eyecandy, but hopefully they wont. Considering Leterrier is attached to the remake gives me hope. He lacks a long list of experience, but he is climbing the ladder. With any luck he will give proper balance to the films (he is also rumoured to be on Man of Steel as well)

  15. what I mean about forsaking story by the way is in the wrong hands I could imagin say roland emmerichs version or jan de bonts

    we need a film maker not a footage gatherer

  16. how do you feel about the mooted remake rodney?? like you this is one of my favorite films of all time. Fucking medusa scared the shit out of me when I was young…..

    If they do a remake I can imagine them forsaking story for effects if you know what I mean.

    I would love to see peter jackson do it myself….

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