Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Clash of the Titans (1981)

I only watched this because it was coming on before a few other films I was watching, and I was pleasantly surprised.

The film concerns the myth of Perseus (Harry Hamlin), illegitimate son of Zeus, when, as a baby, is attempted to be murdered by King Akrisius (angry for Zeus impregnating his daughter), and the great overlord smites Akrisius with the Kraken. There's quite a bit of other mystical names and places that are completely unimportant, because the film doesn't care about the facts, it just wants to thrill you with its campy pleasures.

Anyone looking for historical accuracy from Clash of the Titans is a fool to begin with (remember that whirring, mechanical owl from the mythology books?), because the real interest here is Ray Harryhausen's effects. I always here people talking about the "charm" of old-school, campy-looking effects (the biggest example that always comes up is King Kong), but while I think King Kong is only about the effects, and other than the fact that it's a giant primate, it's a mostly-realistic movie, and it completely flounders the film for me. This film is fantastical and light-heartedly mystical from the outset, and the effects are so wonderful and fun that disbelief can be suspended, and the film really takes on an air of a lot of fun.

Harry Hamlin does what he was asked to do and needs to do, delivery breathy soundbites, look stoic and have a giant, dimpled, chiseled chin. He gets the Heston role, and plays it wonderfully. The rest of the cast is a cavalcade of famous actors doing surprisingly solid work for such a campy little movie, including Maggie Smith, Ursula Andress and Laurence Olivier as (of course) the almighty Zeus.
Nothing worth remembering past the credits, but a lot of fun while it runs.


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