Clash Of The Titans

Clash Of The Titans

***1/2

Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Few films have ever attempted to bring mythology to the big screen with quite so much ambition as Clash Of The Titans. Filmed long before CGI, it's a technical triumph, the last film to feature the stop-motion marvels of the great Ray Harryhausen. It may look old-fashioned but it fairly thunders along and there are plenty of gripping action sequences.

The plot centres on Perseus (Harry Hamlin), a young hero whose troubled background - he's one of several illegitimate sons of the god Zeus - brings him trouble in the present as the gods continue to meddle in his fate. They're played by the likes of Laurence Olivier and Maggie Smith, so there's a parallel sense of thespian greats toying with a young actor who struggles to find his feet in this epic role (he is best known now for his TV work). But Perseus is only part of the picture, with his companions in adventure stealing much of the limelight - the winged horse Pegasus and a new character, a little clockwork owl sent as a gift by a sympathetic goddess. Whether you adore this owl or want to smash it to pieces will pretty much determine your response to the rest of the film.

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Perseus' life seems to be getting better when he meets the beautiful princess Andromeda (Judi Bowker). But Andromeda's mother has angered the goddess Thetis, who demands that she be sacrificed to the Kraken in penance. The only way our hero can save her is to defeat the fabled sea monster in single combat. Is there a weapon that can make this possible? Indeed there is. Unfortunately, it's the head of another monster, the gorgon Medusa, one glance from whom can turn a man to stone.

This may look complicated when written down, and you will get more out of it if you're familiar with the background myths, but it's simple in the telling, with plenty of energy and high drama. Stunning sets and lavish costumes plunge us into a world where Perseus' plight seems entirely logical. There's a proper sense of the uncanny in places, especially when we meet the three cannibal sisters who share a single eye, and the terrific orchestral soundtrack keeps the battles exciting even when they are not completely convincing visually.

Cynical viewers may begin this laughing at the grandiose acting and the jerkiness of some of the effects. They'll end it by rooting for Perseus and thrilling at his exploits.

Reviewed on: 02 Jan 2010
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A squabble between the gods of Mount Olympus forces the young hero Perseus to go on a desperate quest, taking on the gorgon and the kraken.
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Director: Desmond Davis

Writer: Beverley Cross

Starring: Harry Hamlin, Laurence Olivier, Claire Bloom, Maggie Smith, Ursula Andress, Judi Bowker, Jack Gwillim, Siân Phillips

Year: 1981

Runtime: 118 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US

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