CLASH OF THE TITANS—“By the Gods!“, talk about a colossal letdown; when this came out in 1981 it ranked down there with Raise The Titanic in terms of an eagerly expected, highly touted, big-budget bore. The first fifteen minutes have you thinking it might be cool, a lavish update of Argonaut-style adventure. It starts with a nifty tidal wave and follows up with some bitchy chatter among Zeus and his room-mates (Laurence Olivier, Maggie Smith, Claire Bloom and Ursula Andress).
Sadly then, the hero is introduced—Harry Hamlin is about as animate here as your average end table. Then they give him a ‘lovable’ sage, played by Burgess Meredith in his most overboard fashion. We Groan. Worst, they add a ‘cute’ mechanical owl, kind of a Bronze-Age R2D2: this little bastard is guaranteed to make you nauseous.
Directed aimlessly by Desmond Davis, the story moves like molasses, the acting is leaden, the action scenes are lame. Leonard Rosenman’s score is a far cry from the fantasy epics Bernard Herrmann created, the sets and costumes show little inspiration, there is scant sense of grandeur, exotica or eroticism to the whole shebang.
Sin of sins, the clincher, is that the stop-motion special effects of Ray Harryhausen were no longer in line with the times; there are no chills, thrills or laughs in the creatures trotted out. They just look dated and goofy, serving only to remind you of the really marvelous visions cherished from Harryhausen’s work two decades earlier in Jason And The Argonauts and Mysterious Island. A $15,000,000 sleeping aid, it nonetheless drew hopeful crowds and made it to the #11 spot of the year, grossing $41,000,000 just in North America.
With Judi Bowker, Sian Phillips, Tim Pigott-Smith, Flora Robson, Donald Houston. The film must at least be credited for giving us the line “Release the Kraken!”, which would get a much lustier airing in the better 2010 remake, courtesy of Liam Neeson’s properly bold “RE-LEASE THE KRAKEN!”