Today I watched Desmond Davis’ Clash of the Titans (1981)
I have always been fascinated by fantasy and mythology especially in the realm of film and after the release of the original Star Wars trilogy this fascination seemed to spread throughout the world of film. Clash of the Titans was one of many attempts to recapture the fervor kicked off by Star Wars, an attempt to capitalize on the craze for heroic fantasy. It is most notable for being the final major project from stop-motion pioneer and legend Ray Harryhausen.
Clash of the Titans is a retelling of the myth of Perseus and is much more accurate than most of Hollywood’s forays into Greek myth. Harry Hamlin plays our hero with an unparalleled level of blandness, which reflects on most of the cast who are not particularly well directed. Of course the dialogue does not help the actors, it is rather stilted and unrealistic which makes it hard for the performers to emote. That being said the more veteran members of the cast do manage to get some good performances out, the great Maggie Smith, Burgess Meredith, and the legendary Laurence Olivier all bring a greater sense of gravitas to the proceedings when they are on screen.
This really is Harryhausen’s movie, his stop-motion effects are utterly incredible. While many of the special effects have become somewhat dated , the artistry on display is really wonderful. Those sequences where the stop-motion is most on display are when this film gets really good. The Medusa sequence is notable for the insane detail of the snake-hair and fire-lit scenery.
If this movie did not have the incredible technical elements and design work of Harryhausen it would not be notable in anyway. But that one element serves to make this a wonderful movie to sit through, it manages to be quite entertaining despite it’s lackluster script. If old fashioned special effects are something you can appreciate, then this is one that should not be missed, but otherwise one might find it unfavourably dated. 3/5