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Clash of the Titans(1981)
This is the original film adaption of the greek myth of Perseus. We follow his saga from his conception to his quest to save and marry Princess Andromeda. From his contentious beginnings he has had to contend with circumstances out of his control. Now as an adult he must deal with the vengeance of the sea goddess Thetis. She is at odds with his father Zeus and he is paying the price. With Zeus' divine help, he faces the insurmountable odds placed before him to find his place amongst other men and the gods!
For more about Clash of the Titans and the Clash of the Titans Blu-ray release, see Clash of the Titans Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on March 1, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Starring: Laurence Olivier, Harry Hamlin, Claire Bloom, Judi Bowker, Maggie Smith, Ursula Andress
Director: Desmond Davis
» See full cast & crew
Clash of the Titans Blu-ray Review
Release the Kraken! Or not... it doesn't make much difference.
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, March 1, 2010
I had the opportunity to tackle two fantasy favorites this week, both of which spent countless hours in my parents' rickety VCR when I was boy. The first, filmmaker Wolfgang Peterson's dark children's classic, The NeverEnding Story, has withstood the test of time, enduring the decades with gripping performances, a sharp screenplay, and a haunting coming-of-age adventure draped in shadow. Sadly, the second, director Desmond Davis and producer/visual effects creator Ray Harryhausen's Clash of the Titans, doesn't fare so well. Hobbled by listless set pieces, poor pacing, and paint-by-numbers casting, it struggles to gain momentum, fizzling long before the legendary animator's chummy Kraken lumbers on screen. While Peterson's endearing young heroes and enigmatic beasties never overshadow one another, Davis' stodgy gods and boorish humans are continually upstaged by Harryhausen's memorable stop-motion monstrosities. Whereas Peterson focuses on character and story above all else, Davis merely uses his actors to drag his audience from one creature to the next. Don't get me wrong, I still have a lot of affection for Clash of the Titans -- the bonds of nostalgia are strong -- but that doesn't mean it's a particularly good film.
Clash of the Titans weaves the oft-times cumbersome tale of Perseus (Harry Hamlin, in one of his first feature film roles), a human warrior sired by Zeus himself (Laurence Olivier). Safely raised on a remote island, the young man soon becomes a pawn in a greater game of the Greek gods; one riddled with retribution and revenge. Perseus' trials begin when the goddess Thetis (Maggie Smith), furious at Zeus for transforming her beloved son Calibos (Neil McCarthy) into a hideous satyr, transports the fledgling warrior to Joppa. While there, he befriends a philosopher and poet (Burgess Meredith), receives several enchanted gifts from the gods, and meets a beautiful woman named Andromeda (Judi Bowker), a princess once promised to Calibos. But before Perseus can win her heart and hand, Thetis interferes yet again, this time demanding Andromeda be sacrificed to one of Poseidon's most feared sea beasts, the Kraken. With just thirty days to find a way to quell Thetis' blood-lust and stop the Kraken, the son of Zeus sets out on a grand quest that leads him to the Stygian Witches (Anna Manahan, Flora Robson, and Freda Jackson), across the River Styx, to the prowling grounds of a two-headed wolf called Dioskilos and, eventually, into the lair of a deadly reptilian Gorgon named Medusa. But Perseus doesn't have to face each challenge alone. Along with a handful of faithful soldiers, he rescues Pegasus, a flying horse that was nearly killed by Calibos; receives guidance from Bubo, a mechanical owl built by Hephaestus (Pat Roach); and earns the blessing of any god willing to side with Zeus in his feud with Thetis.
Tiresome and sluggish, Clash of the Titans unfolds too slowly, peaks too early, and shrugs its way into the sunset with a rather anticlimactic endgame. Hamlin and his castmates aren't much help either, shuffling from one encounter to the next without selling the gravity of Perseus' plight or the gods' investment in the outcome. Olivier, seated on a block of white stone that complements his uninspired performance, delivers his lines with a raised eyebrow, but doesn't convey the power or fury of Zeus. Bowker, sleepwalking through the majority of her scenes, fails to elicit empathy or interest; her Andromeda is little more than a trophy, a macguffin primed for Perseus' taking. McCarthy and Smith stand out, transforming Calibos and his cruel mother into the most believable characters the film has to offer, but even their most impassioned exchanges are hampered by writer Beverley Cross' tedious dialogue. Even Hamlin, Clash's hero of heroes, hops from shot to shot with the same bewildered expression he employs when his character first arrives at Joppa. Where's the warrior's commanding presence? The unflinching determination Perseus should be known for? Where's the soul Harryhausen's jittery monsters manage to exude? I'm sure the spectacle of it all camouflaged such shortcomings in 1981, but today, some thirty years later, the film and its performances fall terribly flat, languishing in overbearing monologues, laughably telegraphed battles, and stocky stage-emotions.
But Clash of the Titans hasn't made it this far on the backs of its actors. No, its real magic -- the real reason Davis' epic has survived long enough to warrant the big-budget Hollywood makeover coming to theaters next month -- is Harryhausen's brilliant creations. What child of the '80s didn't marvel at the sheer enormity and destructive power of his Kraken? The tenacity with which his Dioskilos lunged at its prey? The frightening speed of his blood-born scorpions? The devilish strikes of his tail-whipping Calibos? The majesty of his Pegasus? What six-year-old didn't adore Bubo? Didn't tremble when Medusa slithered on screen for the first time? Didn't hold their breath when she drew her bow? Even in the CG-laden 21st century, Harryhausen's efforts are impressive. The Gorgon battle alone makes Clash of the Titans worth owning; more than Davis' most engrossing scene, it's one of the most complex, intense, and effective stop-motion sequences ever committed to film. Bubo, Calibos, Dioskilos, the giant vulture, Pegasus, the scorpions... even the seemingly dim-witted Kraken all have palpable personality, and consistently steal the show from their living, breathing castmates. While I doubt anyone, save nostalgic diehards or students of film history, will sink into Perseus' quest or fall in love with Davis' clumsy saga, I fear the day is coming when an entire generation will forget artists like Harryhausen and his indelible creature creations. Whatever flaws it might have, however dated it might be, Clash of the Titans represents the culmination of a legend's career, and should be treated as such.
Clash of the Titans Blu-ray, Video Quality
Let me be very, very clear from the outset: Clash of the Titans has never been an attractive film, nor will it ever be. Grain attacks and retreats ad nauseum, poorly lit scenes abound at every turn, and Harryhausen's stop-motion sequences are often mired by murky blacks and blurry live-action footage. As such, Warner's 1080p/VC-1 transfer will strike many casual viewers -- those finicky masses who despise grain, embrace noise reduction, and can't stand a filmic presentation -- as an absolute mess. However, to the studio's credit, texture-sapping DNR, irresponsible artificial sharpening, and other pesky techniques have been left by the wayside, paving the way for a fairly faithful (but somewhat flawed) high definition debut. Colors, though weak on occasion, are bold and beautiful, bathing Medusa's lair in sultry hues and topping Joppa's countryside with lovely blue skies. Skintones, black levels, and vibrancy are at the mercy of the original print, but any subsequent criticism should be aimed at the extent of the film's restoration rather than the transfer itself. Likewise, detail is all over the place, ranging from exceptional to mediocre, but again, the clarity of each shot traces back to Davis' original photography, not a faulty encode. Unfortunately, that doesn't mean everything is as it should be. Scene-specific contrast could use some tweaking, eagle-eyed viewers will notice faint compression artifacts hiding amongst the film's stormy skies and shadowy ruins, and lingering print damage and minor telecine wobble are ongoing (albeit manageable) distractions. Even so, Clash of the Titans has never looked better and, barring a complete overhaul and pricier resurrection, doesn't leave too much room for improvement.
Clash of the Titans Blu-ray, Audio Quality
As faithful reproductions go, Warner's DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 stereo mix adds quite a bit of value to the Blu-ray edition of Clash of the Titans. Though chained to the inherent limitations of an aging source and two-dimensional soundscape, the track's technical quality is nevertheless apparent. Dialogue is clean and intelligible in all but a few scenes (mainly those involving Perseus' moonlit fight with Calibos, and his battle with the scorpions); reliable prioritization prevents the vast majority of sound effects, ambient or otherwise, from slipping through the cracks; and wind noise and original recording mishaps seem to be the only prevailing issues to speak of. Obviously, low-end tones lack the familiar oomph of the LFE channel, and the experience is only as immersive as the film itself, but the mix shouldn't be written off. Warner could have easily tossed a standard Dolby Digital track on the disc and called it a day. A stereo mix may not excite every modern filmfan, but its lossless presentation, bland as it may be at times, should satisfy audiophiles and purists alike.
Clash of the Titans Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Aside from a quick sneak peek at Louis Leterrier's upcoming remake of the film, the Blu-ray edition of Clash of the Titans includes just two features: a decent but all-too-short "Conversation with Ray Harryhausen (SD, 12 minutes), and a brief seven-part special effects overview (SD, 10 minutes) in which Harryhausen discusses the creation of the Kraken, Medusa, Calibos, Pegasus, Bubo, Dioskilos, and the Scorpions.
Clash of the Titans Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
If it weren't for Ray Harryhausen's astonishing stop-motion monsters, Clash of the Titans would have probably been lost in the sands of cinematic time. Medusa and her villainous cohorts may fall by Perseus' sword, but each one handily bests Hamlin and his glass-eyed castmates. That being said, Warner's Blu-ray release revives the aging film, granting it a solid technical transfer and an above average DTS-HD Master Audio stereo mix. A deeper collection of special features would have certainly been appreciated, especially if they focused on Harryhausen's craft and creations, but the studio's AV presentation helps alleviate most of the disappointment. Far from perfect, both the film and disc should still appease the Titans fanbase, at least until its flashy, CG-spewing remake arrives in theaters.
Clash of the Titans: Other Editions
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Clash of the Titans Blu-ray, News and Updates
• 1981 Clash of the Titans Gets Non-Digibook Blu-ray - May 6, 2010
Warner Home Video has announced that, from May 25, the mythological fantasy/adventure film Clash of the Titans (released in March in a Digibook edition) will be available on a Blu-ray edition with a standard BD case. Release details are unchanged (except for the ...
• Clash of the Titans, Neverending Story Announced on Blu-ray - November 30, 2009
Warner Home Video has announced two fantasy titles from the 1980s for release on Blu-ray on March 2, 2010: 'Clash of the Titans' and 'The Neverending Story'. 'Clash of the Titans' will be presented in a Digibook case, whereas 'The Neverending Story' will come in ...
• Rumor: Clash of the Titans Blu-ray in 2010 - September 17, 2009
Spanish site Planeta HD is reporting that Warner Home Video is remastering the 1981 movie 'Clash of the Titans', based on the mythological story of Perseus, for its release on Blu-ray to tie in with the remake directed by Louis Leterrier, which is expected to open ...
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