It’s Ray Harryhausen’s last hurrah, featuring one of the coolest looking monsters ever (Medusa) and about a dozen other nifty effects. Big production values, dramatic score, epic adventure. It’s a slam dunk, right?
Unfortunately, no. It’s a bit of a slog, in fact. Part of this is due to the movie’s reverential old-school attitude, as if 1960s sword-and-sandal films were the platonic ideal of film, chaste and bloated. Many of the effects look distinctly old fashioned, with obvious seams. Remember, this came out 4 years after Star Wars, a year after The Empire Strikes Back, and the same year as Raiders of the Lost Ark. This movie feels like it’s from a different, more boring, planet than those blockbusters.
The main culprit is the script, which makes two hours feel like three. The story is nothing but repetitive fetch quests, bland-zilla characters, boring-ass gods and goddesses making dull proclamations while standing stiffly still.
But those Harryhausen effects, plus some solid production values and set pieces, including some great makeup for the villain Calibos, are enough to keep your eyes on the screen. The Medusa scene in particular is a stunner, a hellish nightmare mini-thriller with great use of mirrors and uncertain spatial relationships to maximize tension.
Nearly Good (4/8)
Note: This review was originally published elsewhere. Please excuse brevity or inconsistencies in style. If you have questions or feedback, please leave a comment or contact me.