Thursday, February 22, 2007

Jason and the Argonauts

Jason and the Argonauts; Adventure/ Fantasy, USA/ Italy, 1963; D: Don Chaffey, S: Todd Armstrong, Nancy Kovack, Gary Raymond, Laurence Naismith, Niall MacGinnis, Jack Gwillim

In Greek mythology Pelias managed to conquer Thessaly, but according to an old legend some young man will some day throw him from the throne. That young man is Jason. When Pelias finds that out, he sends him on a deadly mission to find the Golden Fleece. Jason follows his order and assembles a sailing crew of the finest men in Greece, including Hercules. They are under the protection of Hera, queen of the gods. Their voyage is replete with battles against harpies, a giant bronze Talos, a hydra, and an skeleton army. in the end, Jason finds the Fleece and falls in love with Medea.

Although the famous pioneer of special effects and stop motion animation Ray Harryhausen once said that "Jason and the Argonauts" is the best film he ever worked on, it's still just another example of an routine and amateur fantasy spectacle. Wooden characters and wooden direction from Don Chaffey are too obvious flaws, but a slight doze of charm has been provided by Harryhausen's special effects that brought the mythical creatures to life (Hydra, harpies, a giant bronze Talos and a little overrated, but still interesting army of skeletons that later became his trademark), although the story was more based on characters and less on monsters than the other films he worked on. Not even the plot with the evil Pelias was resolved in the (open) ending, making the film only a solid, campy but nostalgic guilty pleasure.


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