Thursday, January 22, 2015

Clash of the Titans (1981)

I was pretty happy with my blog progress for last year, so I will do my best to keep up at least a few movie blogs a month going forward. Right now the plan is to post two random movie blogs a month, along with feeding my wrestling addiction of a random wrestling DVD blog. Even though I averaged around four entries a month last year, I still have quite a backlog left to keep me going for some time. I have a few special series of movies I want to try and get to throughout the year so we will see how it goes. After taking a couple weeks off after wrapping up my 2014 series of blogs with my entry for Star Trek: Into Darkness, let us kick off 2015 with reviewing a 34 year old classic I never saw until this morning.

A few Christmas’s ago my brother gifted me the film on DVD I am covering today, the 1981 original version of Clash of the Titans (trailer). I recall him saying I think I would like it, I also recall this catching me off guard since remember seeing the 2010 remake recently and thinking it was all right, but nothing spectacular. I am guessing he misconstrued me speaking highly of that film, and presumed I must see the original. I am glad I did though, because this film was surprisingly entertaining all these years later.

I am surprised by how much I already forgot that transpired in the remake just five years ago, but as I watched the original Clash of the Titans, bits and pieces came back to me. In the 1981 original, Harry Hamlin stars as Perseus, whose city is destroyed by the wrathful Greek gods, but Zeus (Laurence Oliver), makes sure to save him from exile by seeking him rescue on a remote island. When Perseus reaches adulthood, Zeus wants him to wed him the dazzling Andromeda (Judi Bowker), but only after he conquers a series of insurmountable tasks presented by Zeus’s rival gods.

Right off the bat the impression that I got from the original Clash of the Titans was that this must have been a technical showpiece for 1981 standards. The gods initial attack of Perseus’s homeland looks silly and outdated by today’s standards, but I could have seen it wowing theatrical crowds back in its heyday with huge gushes of water slamming into and tearing down ancient pillars, statues and structures. The many mythological beasts Perseus squares off against throughout the film also must have been a remarkable on screen feat for its day. Of course they look like crudely animated puppets by today’s standards, but again I can only respect what they were able to pull off back then. Speaking of puppets, I do recall unfortunately getting an embarrassing chuckle out of the remake crudely poking fun in a not-so-respectful nod to this first film.

Obviously outdated special effects aside, I rather enjoyed most of the original Clash of the Titans. Probably even a bit more than the remake, this one seems more focused on the narrative, while still trying to wow us with effects when the remake from what I can remember focused on more style over substance. Seeing Perseus overcome each challenge before him got only more and more engrossing for me, and there were even a handful of spots where the clever use of special effects in certain spots stands the test of time. Only drawbacks were sometimes the story could have picked up in a couple spots and felt a little too leisurely paced in certain scenes, and there were a couple moments where I was yelling at Perseus towards the end to just finish off the final foe, the Kraken once and for all while he took his sweet time vanquishing the legendary beast.

There is not too many extra features on this DVD release I have for Clash of the Titans. There is an interactive map of the mythological beasts Perseus faces that jumps to a scene where they are encountered in the film. The only other extra on this DVD is a 12 minute interview with producer Ray Harryhausen who does provide some interesting insight on what it was like filming the movie and getting the locations just right and getting the most out of special effects back then. If you do not mind seeing some outdated special effects, and thought the recent remake was even just all right like I did, then you owe it yourself to see the 1981 original Clash of the Titans, because even with its older coat of paint, it still is easily the superior film.

Other Random Backlog Movie Blogs

12 Angry Men (1957)
21 Jump Street
Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
Bounty Hunters
Captain America: The First Avenger
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Clash of the Titans (1981)
Field of Dreams
Fight Club
The Fighter
For Love of the Game
Good Will Hunting
Hercules: Reborn
Marine 3: Homefront
Marine 4: Moving Target
Rocky I-VI
Running Films Part 1
Running Films Part 2
ScoobyDoo Wrestlemania Mystery
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Source Code
Star Trek I-XII
Veronica Mars
The Wrestler (2008)

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