Plot: What’s it about?
“Clash of the Titans” may or may not be remembered for many things. I’m sure I’m not alone when I make the comparison to Jason and the Argonauts, as it’s the only other thing I can think of that resembles it. I’ll also go out on a limb and say that modern-day Hollywood will want to remake this “classic” movie. While this (the original) isn’t that great, it’s never stopped Tinseltown before. Granted the film is now more than twenty years old and the advances in digital effects and sound have grown by leaps and bounds. And if this film could benefit from a few things, it’s special effects and better sound. But still, this does have a sort of “camp” value to it and now that Burgess Meredith and Laurence Oliver are gone; why remake it?
But I digress…and I suppose the plot of the film might be somewhat important to some people (others will buy this DVD no matter what I say). As the film opens, we find a gathering of people sending a beautiful woman and her child, Perseus (who will eventually be played by Harry Hamlin) off in a coffin to float the sea and be left for dead. This, however, doesn’t sit well with Zeus (Laurence Oliver) and as his son is one of the occupants of the coffin, he decides to destroy the men responsible and all who occupy the city (note to self…never piss off Zeus). Perseus grows up and at the will of a goddess, is cast into another part of the world and is to fight the last Titan (which Zeus also released…he was really angered). With a little help from Ammon (Burgess Meredith) and some pretty nifty trinkets courtesy of Zeus (a helmet that makes Persues invisible, a sword that cuts through marble and a really nifty shield) he’s off to fight and save the world.
And in a nutshell, that’s it. Of course, getting there is half the fun and it is a rather remarkable experience to see all of the really bad (but considered “good” then) special effects at work here. What particularly grabbed my attention was the bird at the opening scene, it was obviously on a blue screen and was half exposed during the opening credits. Maybe I’ve become so spoiled by CGI these days that it was that noticeable. Then again, maybe they just didn’t care about the bird and wanted to give all of their attention to Medusa and the other creatures that awaited our fair hero. While Clash of the Titans might not be remembered as anyone’s best movie, it does support a pretty good cast with Ursula Andress (think Bond…James Bond), Maggie Smith (think Gosford Park), Laurence Oliver (think Wuthering Heights) and Burgess Meredith (“He’ll knock ya into tomorrow, Rock”!) it could have been a lot worse. But for all it’s camp value, I’d rent it first.
Video: How does it look?
“Clash of the Titans” came to standard DVD nearly a decade ago and, well, let’s just say that the transfer left a lot to the imagination. Technology has progressed and with this title’s release on Blu-ray, we could certainly hope that it would look better than its DVD counterpart, right? Well, the good news is that yes, it does look better. The 1.85:1 VC-1 HD transfer has improved sharpness and clarity and a lot of the darker scenes that plagued the older release are now a bit cleaned up and do look much more smooth and consistent. That’s the good. Now the bad is that by comparison, it still looks like a very sub par release in terms of Blu-ray. Just because a film has “Blu-ray” on it, it doesn’t mean that it’ll be the best-looking transfer out there. So while the image is perhaps the best its ever looked it still leaves a lot to the imagination. I guess time doesn’t cure everything.
Audio: How does it sound?
In addition to the “improved” video, we also get a DTS HD Master Audio track. Now that’s a mouthful but what it really means is that it’s a 2.0 track which isn’t really that robust (read: good). In fact, it’s quite comparable to the standard DVD audio mix which sounded average at best. Granted the movie is nearly thirty years old, but films this old can still sound good. This entire soundtrack sounded weak and hollow and lacked any depth that we’ve come to expect from even the oldest of movies. Dialogue also sounded a bit thin as well. Suffice it to say that if you want to impress your friends with your audio set up, this shouldn’t be the disc you use.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Let’s face it, the only reason this title is being revisited is that the remake is coming out this spring. This would be a perfect opportunity to give this cult classic a helping of supplements, but alas we get what we had ten years ago. A “conversation” with Ray Harryhausen who was in charge of the visual effects for the movie. It’s rather interesting as he candidly discusses his love for films, how he became involved in the industry and he even gives us a listing of some of his other work. Also included is an interactive map of some of the key “monsters” that our hero encounters throughout the movie. Click on them to be taken for a look at how they were made and what role they played in the film. It’s a nice little package but true fans of the movie are likely to be a little let down. If you’re looking for a great-looking and sounding version of “Clash of the Titans” you’ll probably need to wait until the remake is released on Blu-ray as this version just doesn’t cut it in any regard.