Monday, April 12, 2010

JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS (1963) -
Don Chaffey


I spent two years in my high school Latin II and III class translating the epic Greek poems The Aeneid and The Iliad. If I had my druthers, I think I would've preferred one year and The Argonautica. The original Clash owes an awful lot to Argonauts. But now that I've seen both films, with the blinders of my childhood Clash-fascination removed, I can safely say that Argonauts is the better of the two and just as much fun. Rather than a mish-mash of various myths, it sticks pretty close to its ancient source material, has a strong, urgent throughline and all the camp trappings that makes the original Clash zing.

Witness the gods mucking about with human destiny like pieces on a chess board. Witness more big-ass stop-motion monsters like the Kraken destroying things and dwarfing the split-screened actors in the form of the mighty stone statue Talos. Witness wondrous winged beasts as nifty as Pegasus (white or black) flapping before matte paintings.There's even an impressive climactic fight scene to rival Medusa's lair -- the army of nasty skeletons grown from the ground that descend on Jason wielding swords. All this, and it preceded Clash by about 20 years.

This is a fun, fun film. I must give it props. It takes a lot for a G-rated film to keep me awake at 2 in the morning on a Sunday night. Screw the Kraken. Release the Hydra!

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