PAL, Widescreen, Dubbed
1963 movie illustrates clearly the problem with special effects movies -
one day those effects will seem simply outdated and there will be nothing
else of interest in such a movie to make up for it.
Am I being too harsh on what is usually classified as a classic by many?
Probably not - the effects of Jason and the Argonauts, done by the
legendary Ray Harryhausen, have dated terribly.
Unfortunately the movie depends so much on Harryhausen's effects that the
rest - screenplay, acting, plot, etc. - are simply too lackluster to stand
on its own. One suspects that many of today's special effects-driven
blockbusters will probably suffer the same fate one day. Take my word for
it: the effects in Battlestar
Galactica seemed pretty impressive back then . . .
That Jason and the Argonauts is remembered today
as a Harryhausen flick will support my thesis. Harryhausen simply did the
stop-motion effects, a laborious process in which life-like models are
manipulated and shot one frame at a time. Quick, who stars in it? Who
directed it? Who wrote it? (Harryhausen also did the effects for flicks
such as Earth vs. the Flying Saucers and
Clash of the Titans.)
Not even some campy fun is to be had with Jason and the Argonauts -
after all, we have some emotive dancing by slave girls, brawny men in
skirts and sandals and so forth. Alas, it is simply too bland and lifeless for that.
The famed skeleton fight scene supplies some fun, but comes way too late
in the movie. To make things worse, the movie ends abruptly and feels
The plot? A mishmash of Greek legends
retold in true Hollywood fashion. Jason wants to avenge his father's death
by obtaining the mythical Golden Fleece (the details escape me now - I
often found my attention drifting during the movie). However, the gods
(Zeus and that lot) often interferes and there are some seemingly
invincible monsters to battle. Very similar to Clash
of the Titans but fortunately not as deadly dull as that often fondly
recalled (by people who probably haven't seen it recently) movie.
DISC: This is the Region 2 (UK & Europe) disc - judging from the
special features, it seems almost identical to the Region 1 (States &
Canada) DVD though. I say almost because the Region 1 disc doesn't have
the hour-long Ray Harryhausen Chronicles documentary included. This
documentary is directed narrated by Spock, I mean, Leonard Nimoy and is a
great intro to neophytes unfamiliar with the work of Ray Harryhausen. In
fact it is quite highly recommended and actually more fun than the movie
Also, included is an interview of
Harryhausen (who retired after Clash) by director John Landis (of
American Werewolf in London fame).
The movie is presented in its proper widescreen ratio
and doesn't look too bad for its age. The ocean settings look quite nice,
WORTH IT? If you're a fan then
recommended, but I'll wager that you haven't seen this movie for a while
in such a case. It has aged terribly and is rather dull.
RECOMMENDATION: Like I said, the documentary included on this disc
is quite fun and recommended if you want to find out just who exactly
Harryhausen was and improve on your Trivial Pursuit score in the process.