1980's, Adventure, Burgess Meredith, Claire Bloom, Clash of the Titans, Desmond Davis, Fantasy, Harry Hamlin, Judi Bowker, Laurence Olivier, Maggie Smith, Ray Harryhausen, Ursula Andress
Taking basis from Greek mythology and past fantasy/swords and sandals, Clash of the Titans is one entertaining film. Not without flaws, but glowing with a sense of adventure that can’t be denied or not enjoyed.
In Ancient Greece, King Acrisius is angered when he discovers that his daughter Danaë had a child that was fathered by the all powerful God Zeus(Laurence Olivier). he imprisons his daughter and her son Perseus in a box and has them thrown into the sea to die . The powerful God Zeus is infuriated by this and orders the destruction of the King’s realm. Danaë and Perseus are spared and wash up on another island. Years later, Perseus( now played by Harry Hamlin) is an athletic young man who is good at horse riding and adventure. And it’s adventure that awaits him as the unpredictability of those on Mount Olympus transports him to the city of Joppa . This is done by Thetis(Maggie Smith) who is angered by the fact that Zeus has persecuted her rebellious som Calibos. Her offspring destroyed the group of legendary flying horses (leaving only the iconic Pegasus) and for his wickedness was transformed into a hideous beast. Calibos was betrothed to the beautiful Princess Andromeda(Judi Bowker) but now has fled to the swamp. Andromeda is under a curse that makes her unable to marry unless her suitor solves a magical riddle. Into this melee comes Perseus, who immediately falls in love with Andromeda. After figuring the riddle out and subduing, Perseus asks for Andromeda’s hand in marriage. In retaliation for the treatment of her now deformed son and also stinging with anger when Andromeda’s mother dares speak ill of her , Thetis decrees that Andromeda shall die at the hands of the beastly Kraken in thirty days. Realising the severity of what is happening, Perseus sets out to discover a way to save his beloved from an untimely death. Aided by some of the Gods, an elderly but comic sidekick Ammon(Burgess Meredith) , winged horse Pegasus and a golden replica of the Owl Bubo , it’s a whole new adventure for Perseus. This entails encounters with wicked, vicious two-headed dogs, the Gorgon Medusa and the legendary Kraken. It’s one hell of an adventure for Perseus as he does battle with this assortment of creatures to fulfil his destiny and save Andromeda.
Desmond Davis is on directors duties and does a commendable job of laying on the challenges for Perseus and letting it flow. Some missteps are there it has be said , but it’s definitely very watchable as a fantasy film . Events looks amazing as do the sets that transport you to Ancient Greece in all its glory. A shot of pace might have benefited the middle section that does honestly drag things out a bit. But Clash of the Titans recovers in the finale as a glorious throwback to the old school adventure movies that where popular in decades gone by. And I frankly love it for that. Clash of the Titans is an imperfect film, but the nostalgia and feeling of adventure truly sweeps me as well as the audience along. Clash of the Titans is all about the work from special effects and stop motion wizard Ray Harryhausen. This was to be his last hurrah before retirement and he doesn’t disappoint with the array of creatures he crafts for the big screen for Perseus to face . The best among these are Medusa and the Kraken . The scaly and slithering Medusa is a terrifying creation that is part of one of the finest sequences here. Suspense abounds as Perseus attempts to slay Medusa while avoiding being turned to stone by the beast. And the last part with the Kraken is high on adventure and tension as Perseus swoops into the rescue. Both creatures on display make the movie that something special. It’s Harryhausen who is running the show here and whenever his touch is felt, it’s something to behold .The pace may get leaden in areas and the story is not exactly what you’d call the most cohesive, but as sheer entertainment it scores very high points. And the rousing score is another excellent addition to this action packed movie.
Clash of the Titans isn’t exactly what you’d call an actors movie, but the cast is pretty good. Harry Hamlin is hardly the most expressive star out there, but he is nonetheless suitable and physically impressive in the part of the heroic Perseus. Judi Bowker is also hardly winning any awards but her stunning beauty makes it convincing that a man would risk life and limb for her. Burgess Meredith clearly has fun as the loyal best friend of our main hero, with a mischievous glint in his eyes. Laurence Olivier, with his Shakespearean training and sense of indomitable majesty is ideally cast as Zeus. Intimidating yet charismatic, it’s a blast seeing Olivier bring his theatrical talents to the screen in this fantasy yarn. The always excellent Maggie Smith has a ball as the vengeance seeking and silver tongued Thetis, whose meddling sets in motion a lot of events. Smith brings with her a sense of commanding power and playfulness, which she lends well to the film at hand. Sadly, Claire Bloom and Ursula Andress as goddesses are relegated to the sidelines as and don’t particularly register as a result.
So while not quite up there in the echelon of fantasy films of yesteryear, Clash of the Titans is very close and boasts an immense amount of charm and nostalgia. Plus it’s a fine showcase for the Ray Harryhausen and a great final flourish for him.