Clash of the Titans (1981)

Clash of the Titans (1981)

Starring Harry Hamlin, Judi Bowker, Burgess Meredith, Laurence Olivier, Maggie Smith, Claire Bloom, Ursula Andress, Pat Roach, Jack Gwillim, Neil McCarthy, Susan Fleetwood

Directed by Desmond Davis

Expectations: Moderate, but I LOVE Harryhausen stop-motion.

As I’ve said in reviews past, going back to watch old-school special FX extravaganzas is something of a double-edged sword. You really have to throw yourself into the mindset of the times and consider the film within its place in time. If you hold it up to current standards the whole thing will usually fall apart and you’ll be left picking up the broken pieces of the film you spent the last two hours picking apart. So as a 1981 FX-filled adventure, Clash of the Titans soars and delights, but like the current wave of 80s and 90s nostalgia, Clash of the Titans seems to rise directly out of a nostalgia for the 60s and the glory days of stop-motion monsters with films such as Jason and the Argonauts or The Golden Voyage of Sinbad.

All of those classic films share one defining element behind the scenes, the work of stop-motion master Ray Harryhausen. Clash of the Titans is his swan song, and it contains some of his best work. The Pegasus moves with a realistic quality that makes you question its nature, the Medusa slithers and stalks her prey with glorious fluid motion, the deformed Calibos fights hand-to-hand with Perseus in perfect sync and integration with the live action footage. I could go on, but if you are a fan of stop-motion and you haven’t seen this one, it’s a must.

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Mini-Review: The King’s Speech (2010)

The King’s Speech (2010)

Starring Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter, Guy Pearce, Michael Gambon, Timothy Spall, Jennifer Ehle, Derek Jacobi, Anthony Andrews, Eve Best, Freya Wilson, Ramona Marquez, Claire Bloom, Tim Downie

Directed by Tom Hooper

Expectations: Low. I have no interest.

When a film that you have no interest in seeing wins Best Picture, what’s a film blogger to do? I probably should have just moved along, but my obsessive nature wouldn’t stop nagging me to see it, so I decided to check it out. I’ve seen most of the other big movies of last year, I might as well see the “best” one. The King’s Speech is a perfect example of why one should never blindly accept what the Academy deems the Best Picture, because while it is pretty good, it’s just so not for me.

The King’s Speech tells the tale of how the Duke of York tries to overcome his speech problem amidst the Royal drama surrounding the death of his father and the rise of World War II. Most of the film is comprised of Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush shooting lots of dialogue back and forth (what did you expect from a film titled The King’s Speech, explosions?), with Firth doing his best to stay within his shell and Rush doing his best to coax out Firth’s inner demons. The acting is excellent from everyone involved and Tom Hooper shoots the film interestingly for such a boring story, so that adds an extra layer of enjoyment for someone like myself. The set design and art direction is second to none as well, with rich colorful sets that pop off the screen beautifully. I wouldn’t necessarily call it realistic, but that’s beside the point because it looks great. The music, on the other hand, is some of the most boring and generic orchestral film music I’ve heard in a while… and, of course, it received an Oscar nomination. Great by association, I guess, but I thought it was rubbish.

Lots of people have mentioned that this film is quite funny, or even a laugh-out-loud film. It didn’t hit in that way for me at all, instead I found it caught between being too serious to truly be funny and too light-hearted to be truly serious. This isn’t a bad thing, but it is important to realize before people’s recommendations get you going in expecting a laugh riot. Overall, The King’s Speech is a good film, but not one that I would ever really go nuts over. It’s skillfully crafted and very well put together, but it’s fairly boring, predictable and the dramatic climax lacked the punch it should have had.

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