Tuesday, January 22, 2002


Hollywood should leave portrayals of the Greek or Roman Gods to animators; I have yet to see a really good live-action movie about or featuring the gods. This probably comes closest. I remember seeing this on TV when I was 8 or 9 and playing along with the on-screen adventures--I set up my chessboard and had various chess pieces playing the parts of Jason and Zeus and Hera, etc., while I was watching the film. The Mt. Olympus sequences were the most fun for me then, but now I more fully appreciate the Ray Harryhausen animated effects. Actually, if the acting were a couple notches better, this might be a fantasy classic.

The story of Jason and his band of men sailing around the world in search of the Golden Fleece, which will allow Jason to take his rightful place as ruler of Thessaly, is basically just an excuse for a series of adventures, most of which involve the gods, or monsters, or both, and always the wonderful stop-motion FX work of Harryhausen. The darting Harpies and the gigantic statue that comes to life are memorable, but the very best part is the battle with the skeleton army. This sequence is so well done that the makers of the recent remake of The Mummy seem to have modeled a scene in that movie directly from the skeleton fight. The locations, sets, and costumes are fine, but the acting leaves much to be desired. Todd Armstrong as Jason looks the part, but comes off as a bland and ineffective hero; Nancy Kovack barely registers at all as Medea. Worst of all is Hercules, played by barrel-chested Nigel Green, looking dumpy and tired rather than strong and brave. The dubbing is atrocious, which is especially odd given that the actors all appear to be speaking English to begin with. Almost every scene is dubbed, giving the whole movie that feeling you get when you're at the drive-in and the sound is coming in your window rather than from the screen.

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