Clash of the Titans

Clash of the Titans is the latest in my series of “old movie/new to DVD” reviews. As I say in many of my reviews, if you haven’t seen Clash of the Titans already then close down this wonderful invention called the Internet, get in your car, drive to Blockbuster, rent this movie and send me the bill. Hell, it might be quicker to just start flipping channels on cable right now, it’s seems to be showing on some channel in cable land almost all the time these days.

Clash of the Titans is also a movie that falls under the “seemed like a great flick when I was eight, doesn’t seem so good these days” movies. Sure it’s a classic — there’s a two headed dog, giant scorpions, the Kraken, and Bubo the Owl for the gods’ sakes! Ok, scratch Bubo the Owl, that thing was just annoying. I’m just saying that at the age of 8, the Clash of the Titans had some sort of magical aura around it which seems to have faded a bit over the past 21 years. 21 years ago? Jesus, I’m old.

For those of you who grew up in a cave, Clash of the Titans tells the story of Perseus, starting with him being banished from a town as a baby to his becoming a young adult. Through a twist of fate, Perseus ends up on a quest to save the lovely (aren’t they all lovely? No one saves the ugly maidens, it seems) Princess Andromeda. Along the way, kills a two-headed dog, giant scorpion, the Kraken, but unfortunately not Bubo the Owl. Where are the gods now???

If nothing else, people should watch Clash of the Titans because it really is the last of the greats, so to speak. Ray Harryhausen, who fell in love with movie special effects after working with Willis O’Brien on animating the original King Kong, made a name for himself by stepping out on his own and providing the stop motion effects in such films as The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms and the original Mighty Joe Young. Harryhausen honed his skills on films like The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, The 3 Worlds of Gulliver, Jason and the Argonauts, One Million Years BC, The Golden Voyage of Sinbad and Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger. If you’ve seen skeletons fighting with swords anytime in the past fifty years, either Harryhausen did it, or someone copied his work (see: Spy Kids, Army of Darkness, and many more).

Clash of the Titans was Harryhausen’s last film. It’s hard to believe that Tron came out one year later than Clash of the Titans, and Return of the Jedi is only two years newer. Harryhausen’s stop motion techniques were replaced at first with ILM’s “go-motion” techniques, and eventually by computers. That’s one of the reasons that makes Clash of the Titans so special – just like the Kraken, it’s the death of a dynasty.

As I said earlier, as an eight year old this movie was THE shit! I think out in my garage I still have my Pegasus horse, my Kraken, and maybe even a Calibos figure. Twenty-one years later, I see why my parents did not think that this movie was “the shit”. First of all, it’s almost exactly two hours long … WAY too long for an adventure of this sort. Second of all, the effects are pretty bad. I’m not sure if they seemed bad “back then” or not, but they seem bad now, I can tell you that. Third of all, especially for a kid’s movie, it takes WAY too long for anything exciting to happen. My son, who’s nine months old, loves watching cartoons and movies. I couldn’t find anything in Clash to keep his attention, and especially not during the beginning. It’s over 30 minutes before anything remotely interesting happens. Too much backstory for a kid’s tale for me.

The recently released Clash of the Titans DVD contains four extras for viewers to chew on. The Cast and Crew Biographies and the Theatrical Trailer and throw-a-ways. That leaves you with an interview with Ray Harryhausen, and the Map of Myths and Monsters section.

The Harryhausen interview is short, that’s about all I can say. Maybe ten, twelve minutes tops. I found myself wanting to know a lot more about him and a lot less about Clash of the Titans when it was over. The other extra, a Map of Myths and Monsters, has a picture of each special “character” from the movie. When you click on each one, it shows you a short clip from the movie, and then a brief interview with Harryhausen, explaining how he animated the character. It’s interesting, but again seems too “on the surface” — there’s not a lot of deep info to be found here.

Clash of the Titans is one of those movies everybody just ends up owning. You might as well buy it now instead of later. With a MSRP of $14.99 and cheaper prices when on sale, this is a classic that deserves to sit on your shelf, collecting dust or not.

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