A: Uh, no. I re-watched the original, a movie I loved during my childhood, when it was regularly on TBS. I’ve never seen the remake.
Q: Oh. Uh, who was in that one?
A: Well, is you weren’t such a plebeian, you’d know that Laurence fucking Olivier played Zeus, for one. And Harry Hamlin, well known for his role in LA Law and adult diaper commercials, was Perseus. Also, we had Burgess Meredith (who you may know as the Penguin in the 1966 Batman TV series, or from a bunch of other more intellectual fare) as the poet Ammon. Hell, most of the people involved were reputable actors known for playing in high-brow fare. Also, Ursula Andress has a cameo as Aphrodite, goddess of love. And of course, this is Ray Harryhausen’s last movie as a special effects guy.
Q: Who is Ray Harryhausen?
A: Only the grandfather of all special effects monsters.
Q: Less condescending, please?
A: OK, fine. Ray Harryhausen is a stop motion animation wizard. Amongst his notable works is Mighty Joe Young (the Oscar-winning original, not the Charlize Theron remake) The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, Jason and the Argonauts, and One Million Years BC. He is actually the inspiration many directors, such as George Lucas, Tim Burton and Steven Spielberg, and most special effects artists up until very recently. He’s a legend in the industry. In fact, I don’t think that I’m exaggerating when I say anyone working in the special effects industry who was born before 1975 got into it in large part because of Ray Harryhausen.
Q: Ah. OK. So how do his creations look here?
A: Well, it is very clear that the scorpions, the two-headed wolf and others are not part of the actual scenery. It looks like a bad green/blue screen effect, but that might be because of the high resolution on my screen. I don’t remember this ever being an issue on TV. Either way, they do look fairly good, given what they were. The only issue that I have is a bit of a nitpick, specifically that they aren’t true to the source material.
Q: Oh? Do tell.
A: Well, for one, the Kraken a) was a species, not a single creature b) was an octopus, not a four armed cross between a monkey and the Creature from the Black Lagoon, c) not a Titan, and d) not even a part of Greek mythology, but of Icelandic, Greenlandic and Norse mythology. Also, Medusa was a gorgon, however, unlike the other gorgons, she was beautiful. In fact, her beauty was what caused men to turn to stone in some tellings. She was a beautiful woman with snakes for hair and maybe discouloured skin. Here, she’s a basically an uglier Nāga with a bow. And Calibos was just Caliban from Shakespeare’s The Tempest.
As for the actual story, well…look, if I listed all the ways this movie strayed from the old myths, we’d be here all day. Characters have completely different relationships(see Thetis, the archaic goddess who never associated strongly with the Olympians who, in this movie, is in Zeus’ court), some either don’t exist in Greek myths (see Calibos and the Kraken, above) and, uh, there are no actual Titans in the movie. So it’s best to look at this as a “very deliberately loose adaptation”
Q: OK, let’s cut it short. What works here?
A: Well, for one, I did enjoy the special effects, dated as they were. There’s a definite charm there. As for the actors, they were all very good at what they did, with the possible exception of Harry Hamlin, who seemed somewhat out of his depth when paired with Burgess Meredith. Aside from that, we have excellent set pieces, a great soundtrack, and beautiful cinematography.
Q: OK, what didn’t work?
A: The characters didn’t get all that well developed, especially Andromeda. Her romance with Perseus is as shallow a love interest as I’ve ever seen, and it kind of irked me, since the rest of the movie was so well done. I mean, the actress did well in with what she was given, but the sad fact is that only a handful of characters got any sort of development. However, given that it was less character driven and more story driven, this is somewhat forgivable.
Q: Alright. So, final thoughts?
A: This was Ray Harryhausen’s final movie. Was it his best? I’m not quite sure I have a favourite, but if I did, this would be in the running. This is not only a good movie, it’s an important one. I feel my 8/10 rating is just right for this movie. Go see it whenever you can.
Q: Awesome. Thanks for your time. Now, let’s get some ice cream!
A: Sure, but you’re buying.