270 of 292 people found the following review helpful
on May 15, 2003
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
I love "Clash of the Titans," but I'm terribly disappointed by the quality of this DVD. The "all-new digital transfer" that the manufacturer promises is quite possibly the worst transfer I've ever seen, enhancing the film's visual flaws while disguising its merits. In composite shots, live-action elements are so washed-out as to appear almost black-and-white at times, while stop-motion elements are garishly bright and crisp, looking more like cartoons than dimensional objects. This is particularly pronounced in shots of the flying Pegasus; the digital transfer so exaggerates the matte lines around the figure that it appears to be a paper cut-out plastered against the sky. Even the glorious Medusa segment suffers from these defects: what was, in the original (and on VHS), an atmospheric balance of rich darks and flickering red lights, becomes a clash of nearly impenetrable spots of shadow against grainy, pale-brown relief. I'm no authority on digital transfers, but my guess is that this one was done as quickly and cheaply as possible, the manufacturer's reasoning being (probably) that fans of Harryhausen will be so thrilled to have his films on DVD that they could care less what the films look like. Well, I was thrilled to have "Clash of the Titans" on DVD--but when the abysmal quality of the transfer interferes with the very effects that make the film great, my enthusiasm wanes considerably. I'd advise fans of Harryhausen to buy the video version, and to write angry letters to the manufacturer protesting their callous desecration of one of the master's greatest films.
66 of 71 people found the following review helpful
on July 30, 2010
Format: Blu-rayVerified Purchase
Okay, I really like this movie and have since 1981 when it was theatrically released. It's not my favorite Harryhausen fantasy but it's in my top 5.
I ordered this blu-ray from Amazon.com a week or so ago and it just arrived today. This is where I kick myself in the head for not reading other's reviews of the blu-ray first. The transfer sucks BIG TIME or, perhaps it was just the elements used to create this blu-ray that were a mixed bag! Most (not all) of the daylight scenes were excellent but the evening and night scenes were truly horrid. From the opening scenes of the soldiers on the sandy beach right up to the end titles all I could see were large chunks of dirt that wasn't removed prior to making the transfer. Way too much film grain (much more than should be for a film of this age) and artifacts throughout.. all this clearly visible in the darker and some of the daylight scenes viewed on a 65 inch HD LED TV.
It seems the studios are really getting lazy (or is it just cheap?) in releasing newer and older films in substandard transfers.
I can name on perhaps 1 hand the films I feel are really superb transfers to blu-ray. Another 25 to 30 that are good and all the rest (approx 985 in my collection) as dismal failures as far as the quality of the transfers. I invested in Blu-ray for the promised superb quality this new format offered and to be honest I feel cheated MOST of the time to the point where I'm not going to be buying blu-rays based on how much I like/love the film but more importantly how good the quality of the transfer is. It's just a slap in the face from the studios to wait for them to make one of my favorites available on blu-ray and to be let down once again by a skanky presentation.
Two other blu-rays of recent note that I have had problems with (Gladiator and Saving Private Ryan) have been recalled by the studios for faulty transfers because we consumers bombarded them with complaints. I don't expect that to happen in this case because compared to the two just mentioned, CLASH is an older film with (I'm guessing) nowhere the amount of fans.
So if you really like this film and have a TV larger than 40 inches I'd stay away from this title. However if your TV is smaller and don't expect to be buying a larger one in the next couple of years, then go ahead and buy it coz you probably won't be able to see the deficits in the transfer.
And for all of you who won't be buying this blu-ray, do check out two other Harryhausen films (The 7th Voyage of Sinbad and Jason and the Argonauts) on blu-ray coz they look really GREAT. Sony 10 / Warner 2
96 of 109 people found the following review helpful
What a shame, this is Ray's last feature film and they give the man a kick in his pants with this transfer. This has some of Ray's best creations and it's ruined with a washed out grainy print. I could not bring myself to give it a lower rating. The film deserves 5 stars for Harryhausen's incredible work, but the DVD transfer keeps me from giving it a full thumbs up.
The print is very watchable and at a bargain price of $5.00 it should not be passed up, but the film and Harryhausen deserve much better! Thankfully they are releasing this film on BluRay and on a new DVD, so I will update my review when it has been released and I have a chance to compare them.....I'll keep my fingers crossed that they do this gifted genius justice!
****DVD/BLU RAY UPDATE****
Save your money as the new release of this film looks to be the same old transfer and the Blu Ray isn't worth the upgrade as it just brings out the wear and tear all the more. There are no new extras either. It's a shame because this film desrves to be completely restored and preserved for future generations and old school Harryhausen fans!
****END OF UPDATE****
26 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on January 30, 2003
Judging from the comments below, it seems one either loves this film or despises it. In the book "Roger Ebert's Movie Home Companion", Mr. Ebert praised the film, so I decided to give this DVD a try. I'm glad I took a chance because it turns out Mr. Ebert's opinion matches my own. If you harbor a child's spirit within you, if you like to entertain fantasies, or enjoy comic books, this film is probably for you.
Ebert says "Clash Of The Titans" is special effects wizard, Ray Harryhausen's masterwork, a tour de force, and having seen many of the master's earlier films, I tend to agree. His effects are achieved by stop-action animation, rear projection, modeling, etc.; traditional methods requiring painstaking effort and which lend themselves well to a film which deals with ancient Greek mythology. But there is much more here than just fantastic effects. Nearly everything about this film works for me. The mostly British cast infuses the film with a high tone. Harry Hamlin plays the role of Persius exactly right, and Judi Bowker is adorable as the lovely princess Andromeda. The production values are high, with wondrous sets and marvelous costuming. The location filming in the Mediterranean is beautiful and sometimes breathtaking.
The DVD video transfer is from a clean 35mm print and looks terrific in the 16:9 widescreen mode. The sumptuous London Symphony scoring sets a tasteful mood and effectively augments the story. I do have one gripe, however. The music track on this DVD has too much treble and the music is too loud, competing with the dialog. Whoever remixes these soundtracks should be instructed that the music is not supposed to upstage the acting.
Apart from the sound mix, I honestly can't find much to fault with the film. This ages-old epic of gods and men, good vs. evil, and fantastic ordeals braved in the name of love, is treated with respect, both in script and acting, while remaining fun. Titans is an enchanting movie. It evokes a certain sense of magic which films like Star Wars seem to have sacrificed in the name of urbane sophistication and high-tech realism. This DVD is a fine choice for those who like a touch of charm with their escapism; a gem to be enjoyed again and again, by young and old, for it truly celebrates the child within.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on March 20, 2010
Movie - 3.5
Similar to a lot of people, I remember seeing this (if not bits and pieces of it) on TV growing up as a kid. If not this, then probably some form of Jason and The Argonauts or The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad. Ray Harryhausen and his people did a great job trying to captivate audiences with their work, with Clash of the Titans likely being their most memorable effort. Almost 30 years later with this Blu-ray release, nostalgia must be rampant for those old enough to recall this wondrous interpretation of Greek mythology and fantastic tale of adventure, drama, and romance. I can honestly say until a few months ago when I heard of the upcoming remake, I really didn't remember much about this film. So in preparation for its arrival I decided to give this a rent to refresh my memory. Needless to say, it had been so long, I only now realized how good of a movie this is. Granted, the special effects weren't too great for its time, but I especially like the screenplay and script. Many of the actors/actresses are also British, resulting in a very thespian quality, which I think coincidentally ties in very well to "things of the past" as Mr. Harryhausen would say. Much like how you didn't see too many Greek-themed movies back then, you really don't see much thespian-type works outside of theater houses anymore either. And even after all these years, Titans '81 still manages to carry itself despite its age. The plot is revealed right from the get-go and progresses fairly well throughout, while providing just enough excitement and intrigue to keep the audience entertained. Although, I regret to say the special effects did end up hindering it a bit. Obviously, it was not big-budget like a Star Wars or Blade Runner back then, but I think it makes up for that in innocence.
Video - 3.5
Presented by Warner Bros. in 1080p at an original aspect ratio of 1.85:1, Clash '81 ranges from decent to good at best. Grain is all over the place, even in the cleanest of scenes, and accompanied by an equal amount of noise in the darker ones. Colors are a little more vibrant than the DVD, but just barely. However, detail and texture look much sharper, though can appear somewhat hazy in conjunction with the constant presence of that grain. Black levels and contrast receive a slight boost in depth as well, and shadow delineation seems a little more pronounced compared to what I saw in SD. All in all, considering this wasn't even that high of a budget, this is probably as good as the video will get without massive image manipulation having to be applied.
Audio - 4.0
This is probably the most notable of improvements over the DVD. While the original sound master was only limited to 2 channels, this DTS-HD 2.0 track is surprisingly buoyant. Separation of dialogue, sound effects, and music are good, even immersing at some points like there was actual surround speaker usage from the sides. Although, high and low ends aren't too different from one another, leaving a little more to be desired, but it's good for what was available. Again, this is probably as good as it'll get. Just goes to make you wonder how a sound design like Clash '81 can get lossless audio when bigger name movies and TV series still aren't getting stuck with lossy.
Extras - 2.0
Clocking in at just a little over 20 minutes, we get a very brief interview with Ray Harryhausen about his overall thoughts and experiences with the making of Titan's '81. The main segment is about 12 minutes and delves a little here and there about production, writing, and his own personal opinions on the project. The rest of the extras are about 1-minute-long vignettes of Harryhausen explaining the creatures and how they were constructed/animated. Suffice it to say, the real highlight is the 5 minute preview of the 2010 remake that talks a little about the CG designs for Medusa and The Kraken. Given how outdated Titans '81's effects are, I'm actually pretty stoked for when I get to see the remake at some point.
Overall - 3.5
Clash of the Titans (1981) certainly has its roots set with a unique charm and level of nostalgia for its Greek mythology and competent storytelling. While the special effects obviously didn't stand the test of time as well as its story, the overall movie itself really isn't so bad. However, with only a decent video transfer, limited audio encode, and small amount of extras, the current SRP of $34.99 for this digibook seems a bit steep for a film that didn't even have the highest quality production of its year. If anything, watch this just for the preview of the remake. Otherwise, die-hard fans should wait for the SRP to go a lot lower for this mediocre A/V presentation.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on July 12, 2010
Preferences between the 1981 and 2010 versions appear to generally be based upon the generational differences. The majority of the younger viewers (30 and younger) swear that the 2010 version is worlds better than the 1981 version yet most of the older viewers stand by Ray Harryhausen's last production. Mind boggling? Not really.
It's not difficult to see why. The latest version is typical of current special effects-based action movies. The pacing is fast, there are loud explosive noises for everything short of a fart and dizzying graphics to distract you from concentrating on a screenplay that suffers from major discontinuities and inappropriate costumes (since when did Zeus wear armor rather than a robe?). Interestingly, another reviewer pointed out that the plot was unimportant anyway because audiences really pay to see the newer and much better special effects. Really??!!! I always thought that if you wanted to see special effects on par with the new Clash of The Titans without thinking about a plot you could just play an XBOX or PS3 game through your home theater in the comfort of your own home. In fact, I'm shocked that more people haven't noticed that the new Medusa moves and looks like an artificial game character that moves like the '82 Centipede at the old arcades.
Don't get me wrong. The movement of the new monsters are definitely smoother and more convincingly natural overall than the old stop-motion animated monsters. But the motion is still a little smoother than you'd expect from reality and when you'd expect something to vary its speed, it's usually just one speed throughout its full range of motion. Also, Medusa in the new version doesn't look realistic enough to touch. On the other hand, the new scorpions look totally realistic. Unfortunately, like the Medusa, harpies, and other creatures, the new monsters move at such a dizzying pace that the action unnecessarily loses its realism (typical of movies that use visual effects as crutches).
The old Ray Harryhausen effects are definitely primitive for current day standards for their somewhat jerky motion. But you will immediately notice that it's sufficient for the purpose of the movie, which is ultimately to tell you a story that actually makes sense even if it doesn't follow Greek mythology to a T. The 1981 Clash of The Titans will appeal to older viewers because they grew up watching movies with pacing that is not rushed for the sake of exciting them because of a lack of story logic (Why did Zeus decide to destroy Argos then give fighting tips to Perseus to save its people???)
On the subject of picture detail. It's true that the original '81 lacks the detailed punch of most newer movies but to make the most of this movie (or any other), you cannot rely on the default factory settings of whatever display you are using. If you properly adjust the picture controls of your TV to its proper settings using a calibration DVD or Blu Ray disc, you'll get a decent quality picture from the Blu Ray version as well as the regular DVD version. This also means turn off your anti-motion blur circuit if you have an LCD or LED backlit LCD to avoid watching movies with a home video look, make sure your contrast and black levels are set correctly. If you've done all this, then you're good to go. If you're using a plasma set, then you don't even need to worry about color, tint, and black level shifts when you sit away from a seat at a dead center position.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on March 14, 2010
Format: Blu-rayVerified Purchase
I really love this film. For that reason I am so dissappointed with this blu ray edition. Great packaging, I love the digibook format, plenty of photos and information (some of them mislead, according to IMDB Harry Hamlin never was on Dragonslayer) but great anyway. But the important stuff, the film itself it's a little (so little) improvement over the grainy, blurry and fuzzy dvd edition. Better color and contrast and that's all.
This film deserves a full restoration, frame by frame. I've just seen the much older Hitchcock's masterpiece North by Northwest (also by Warner) and the matte paintings, picture composites and image tricks looked absolutely crisp and pristine. The Harryhausen fans also want this treatment.
The sneak peak of the remake looks quite good in general. I'm looking forward to watch it on the big screen. But I must say that not a million digital effects would improve the masterful craftmenship of the great Ray Harryhausen. And I also think that Sam Worthington doesn't have the charisma, stature, muscle and skin tone to play a Perseus like Harry Hamlin was. A perfect specimen of a men and a very good actor. Luckily, Liam Neeson looks quite amazing as the new Zeus. Not so much the new Kraken, I'm afraid.
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Format: VHS Tape
CLASH OF THE TITANS is not a film to watch if you want to learn about Greek mythology. The movie (though closer to those tales than Disney's HERCULES) is filled with a hodge-podge of all kinds of Greek myths tied together with a bit of Nordic legend as well. However, this is a film that was made for fun. The cast looks like the had fun making the movie, Ray Harryhausen had to have a ton of fun with all the effects, and the movie is fun to watch.
The plot is too convoluted to go into detail. However, the basics are this. Perseus is a son of Zeus, though he doesn't know it. Hera, Thetis, and most of the other gods on Olympus don't care for Zeus' favor of this son and are prepared to do everything they can to stop him from "fulfilling his destiny" in marrying the beautiful Princess Andromeda and becoming King of Joppa, including releasing the last Titan, Kraken, who is caged beneath the sea in Poseidon's realm. Andromeda's people and her life are threatened and Perseus must go on a grand quest and a journey of self discovery.
The film has an impressive cast including Laurence Olivier, Maggie Smith, and Burgess Meredith. Also, a great deal has been made over the special effects. Sure the effects are cheesy by today's standards. However, when the movie was made stop motion animation was still a standard (STAR WARS only came out a few years before TITANS was released). Not only that, but Ray Harryhausen was the master of monster creation and this movie was his swan song.
A fun and imaginative film that is really entertaining to watch especially on a rainy day.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on July 13, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
This is one of the few movies I watched as a child that stayed with me into adulthood. In my opinion, if a movie can bring about a feeling of great imagination, interesting plot twists, AND teach you about the history of a culture's basis then you have a movie of great proportions. To me Clash of the Titans brought about all of this. Mythology and Greece have always been a large facination for me, and to see many of the Greek myths fleshed out on the big screen was a true piece of magic. Movie buffs will be pleased to see many Hollywood actors in this gem as well. From Laurence Olivier and Harry Hamlin, to Maggie Smith and Burgess Meredith. Considering the time in which the movie was made, the special effects were outstanding as well. Even the imaginary characters of Medusa, Cerberus, Pegasus, Calibos, and the Crikon stand out and bring quite a bit of humanism to a very fictional film. I highly recommend this film to anyone with imagination and lots of heart.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on May 24, 2012
Sweeping, romantic and decidedly old-fashioned, the great Ray Harryhausen's cinematic swan song, CLASH OF THE TITANS remains a film that ought to enchant both fans and younger viewers unfamiliar with its magical sense of derring-do.
Released in a busy summer packed with more technologically advanced fantasies like "Raiders of the Lost Ark" and "Superman II," Harryhausen, producer Charles H. Schneer and director Desmond Davis' "Titans" nevertheless held its own at the box-office, becoming a favorite among genre aficionados and particularly younger viewers. As I can attest, having been not quite 7 when the movie was released, "Clash of the Titans" was a film I watched endlessly growing up; even though I was raised on "Star Wars," I never found the stop-motion special effects outdated or anything less than "special," even if the picture, ultimately, marked the end of an era for its style of genre storytelling.
It's not always easy to go back to one of your childhood favorites, as once in a while you can come away disappointed, but I can honestly say "Clash of the Titans" more than holds its own when compared to today's more serious and technologically advanced -- but far less fun -- blockbusters. This was a film clearly aimed at family audiences, managing to satisfy the young and young at heart, as they say, with its fairy-tale aspects and thrilling set-pieces, which again, hold up quite well.
Part of the reason why the film remains enchanting is in the conviction of its story and filmmaking. Beverly Cross' tale of the heroic Perseus (Harry Hamlin), fighting to save a princess (the quite fetching Judi Bowker) from the likes of the vile Calibos, the terrifying Medusa and giant Kraken -- all the while being the pawn in a chess game amongst the Gods, including father Zeus (Laurence Olivier) - enables Harryhausen to craft a succession of brilliantly realized creatures, as well as engage the audience in an entertaining and episodic quest through Greek mythology. While much has been made over the years about the picture's so-called "plastic" performances, the assembled cast was certainly atypical for one of Harryhausen's productions. From Olivier to Maggie Smith, Claire Bloom, Ursula Andress and Sian Phillips, the performances are serious and mannered but suit the material splendidly, while Burgess Meredith's sage presence equally aids in the adventure, the veteran actor essaying a playwright who thinks Perseus' quest might make for an exciting story. Hamlin and Bowker, meanwhile, are also just fine, particularly when you match them up with the completely cardboard leads of Saturday matinee adventures from years gone by.
It also helps that Laurence Rosenthal's score is so utterly gorgeous that it seems to age like a fine wine. Lyrical, heartfelt and stirring, Rosenthal's music carries the entire picture, culminating in a finale every bit as delectable now as it was then. Rosenthal might have been the third man in following the likes of John Barry (whose name adorns the credits of the one-sheet poster still in the Blu-Ray's Digibook packaging) and John Williams, but it's hard to imagine any other score working as effectively as Rosenthal's now-classic outing does.
Warner's Blu-Ray release of CLASH has been maligned by a lot of viewers, but it's not entirely as bad as you might've heard. After a disappointing DVD release several years ago -- marked by a horribly compressed, tinny-sounding stereo soundtrack -- Warner has made amends with a satisfying high-definition mastering that's only hindered by variances inherent in its source material.
Viewers unfamiliar with the movie may likely be surprised at how varied its elements appear, but as most fans of the picture will attest, there are limits with what you can do with remastering "Clash of the Titans" given the amount of optical effects (blue screen, matte paintings, etc.) it contains. There are times when it's jarring to go from a basically pristine shot to one that's riddled with grain -- but it's typically because there's a process shot or some kind of optical effect involved.
That said, "Clash" exhibits a distinctly film-like appearance, complete with varying degrees of grain. It would've been easy for Warner to go the "digital noise reduction" route here and try to smooth over the movie's rough edges by applying lots of DNR, but thankfully they've avoided that temptation and produced as clear and vibrant an HD rendering as "Clash of the Titans" allows. Colors are strong and there are details present that none of the movie's prior, uneven video releases rendered. Viewers might feel disappointed still, yet they have to understand that films shot with so many optical effects from decades past are simply never going to look as pristine and flawless as they'd like.
On the audio side, the DTS Master Audio presentation isn't overpowering -- offering a simple 2.0 stereo mix -- while the supplemental package is a disappointment, leaving off the trailer, and including just a 12-minute videotaped interview with Harryhausen from the initial DVD release as well as a few extra snippets with the F/X pioneer. (The Digibook package also includes a mini-photo booklet of the "Titans" remake plus a discount movie voucher for the remake -- but not valid until a week after the film's opening day!).
That said, this is nevertheless as exciting and satisfying an edition of "Clash of the Titans" as one could expect to see on Blu-Ray.