More in-depth film festival coverage than any other website!
Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About 

Overall Rating

Awesome: 22.73%
Worth A Look54.55%
Average: 13.64%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 9.09%

1 review, 16 user ratings

Latest Reviews

To the Ends of the Earth by Jay Seaver

Wood Job! by Jay Seaver

News of the World by Rob Gonsalves

Promising Young Woman by Rob Gonsalves

Wonder Woman 1984 by Rob Gonsalves

Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone by Rob Gonsalves

Mank by Rob Gonsalves

Wander Darkly by Rob Gonsalves

Stand In, The by Rob Gonsalves

MLK/FBI by alejandroariera

subscribe to this feed

Jason and the Argonauts
[] Buy posters from this movie
by MP Bartley

"Everyone has a God to worship."
4 stars

I'm one of the millions worldwide who gave Peter Jackson and his Lord of the Rings trilogy unreserved praise. Staggering, monumental, jaw-dropping....sometimes it didn't seem that there were enough words to praise him with. But let's not forget his main influence. And it's not the obvious suspects like Spielberg or Lean. It's Ray Harryhausen, possibly the most gifted and influential Hollywood craftsman not to be a director.

Anyone who professes to have a love for the movies will know instantly who Harryhausen is and what films he's responsible for. 'Clash of the Titans', 'It Came From Beneath the Sea', 'Beast from 20,000 Fathoms', '1,000,000 Years BC' and many more bear his distinctive mark. If it wasn't for Harryhausen there'd be no 'Jurassic Park'. 'Terminator' or 'Lord of the Rings'. Or if they did exist, they certainly wouldn't be as superbly done as they are. He's really that influential. Put it this way you can identify a Harryhausen film instantly, but you'd be struggling to name one director of his films.

'Jason and the Argonauts' is perhaps the best showcase of his work, as it's tied to an already mythical story and he has the raw material to play with. Jason (Todd Alexander) wants to reclaim his old kingdom back from a cruel tyrant and to do so he comes under the guidance of the Goddess Medea (Honor Blackman), who entrusts him with the task of finding the golden fleece, which will give him the power to reclaim his kingdom. To do so Jason puts together a crew of the finest soldiers, athletes and sailors Greece has to offer and sets off on his quest.

It's perhaps easier to identify Harryhausen films by what they offer rather than what the plot is. The plots, particularly the Sinbad ones and this all tend to blur into one. It's in 'Jason and the Argonauts' that he does battle with the Hydra, two harpys, Talos and of course, Harryhausens defining moment, an posse of death-dealing, screeching skeletons. After watching 'Van Helsing' Stephen Sommers could do a lot worse than watching this and seeing how special effects should be done. There's no over-the-top showing here, just a genuine, loving care and attention to detail. No doubt if Sommers was directing the group of skeletons would be more than 7 (try 70) but it's this subtle touch that makes it so invigorating and makes the technical skill so dazzling. The action is painstakingly choreographed and the fact there's only 7 skeletons means the action doesn't get confusing and it's fluidly done. The sound effects alone are terrifying and 40 years on it's still an untouchable sequence. Watch the Helms Deep sequence and you'll see Harryhausen stamped right through it.

Coming just second behind it in the jaw-dropping stakes is the metal giant Talos. A nightmare of cold, ruthless blank stares and screeching, rusty metal the moment he first turns his head to look down at the Argonauts stealing his gold is still a spine-shivering moment. The harpys and the Hydra are also moments that can you easily imagine fueling the young imaginations of a Spielberg or Jackson. It's a pleasure to see the work of a true genius and a true craftsman. There's no wanking off with CGI here.

Unfortunately, for all of Harryhausens magic, he can't really elevate the tale to anything particularly special. It's a standard quest narrative of go to one location, find a clue, fight a monster, move on and repeat to the end. Apart from the sheer ingenuity of the model animation there's no surprises. And it's also clear that the models give far better performances than the cast. Alexander is a woefully wooden lead, spouting out dialogue in one, self-important tone as if he's in Shakespeare and the other Argonauts are a bland, faceless bunch. The only ones to come out with credit are Nigel Green as Hercules giving a powerful performance that grounds him in flawed humanity, and Blackman as the playfully sexy Medea. But you don't watch a Harryhausen film for the acting do you?

In the age of CGI it's all to easy to forgot about the original pioneers of trick photography and the true Godfathers of special effects, and the real legacy that they've left behind. When you watch the 'Lord of the Rings' DVD's and they're talking lovingly about the painstaking attention to detail that they gave the models, you know that they hold Harryhausen in high regard. And you know when you watch an over-the-top CGI shit fest like 'Van Helsing', that Stephen Sommers may have watched Harryhausen films but he sure as hell didn't understand them. If I had to make a list of my personal movie Gods, Harryhausen would be one of the first on the list.

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 05/21/04 23:38:51
[printer] printer-friendly format  
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Fantasia Festival For more in the 2005 Fantasia Festival series, click here.

User Comments

9/13/13 dr.lao A fun movie that holds up surprisingly well 4 stars
8/03/09 robert it was good 5 stars
6/20/09 Brad Barrett Dissapointing (except for the Skeleton Fight). Clash of the Titans was better! 3 stars
2/18/08 Pamela White wonderful trip to strange lands 5 stars
6/06/07 bug sucks ass worst fuckin movie ever it sucks massive hairy balls 1 stars
6/19/06 J.R. The special efx still hold up! All Hail Harryhausen! Lots of fun... 5 stars
1/02/06 cody a cool neato 60's flick with good performances, great myth to tell over and over 3 stars
9/04/05 Christine Hosie classic film, Harryhausen always kicks butt 5 stars
7/02/05 CGI What? Kevin Bristow sucks balls (he's gay) This movie was cool! 4 stars
6/30/05 Indrid Cold Fantastic, unforgettable images and FX. But of course it pales compared to CGI. 4 stars
9/08/04 Kevin Bristow it sucked balls 1 stars
8/17/04 Herolder Classic fantasy 4 stars
5/24/04 Peter a fun joyride; groundbreaking SFX 4 stars
1/27/04 action moive fan great ray harryhausen stop motion f/x but silly story 3 stars
6/16/03 Jason wonderfully bad 5 stars
Note: Duplicate, 'planted,' or other obviously improper comments
will be deleted at our discretion. So don't bother posting 'em. Thanks!
Your Name:
Your Comments:
Your Location: (state/province/country)
Your Rating:

Discuss this movie in our forum

  DVD: 28-Dec-2004



Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About Australia's Largest Movie Review Database.
Privacy Policy | HBS Inc. | |   

All data and site design copyright 1997-2017, HBS Entertainment, Inc.
Search for
reviews features movie title writer/director/cast