Clash of the Titans (Blu-ray Review)

Clash of the Titans (Blu-ray Review)My first brush with Greek mythology happened early on in my life, during the summer of 1981, with the theatrical release of Clash of the Titans.  Although I was a mere 7 years of age, I remember the experience fondly and all the countless hours of enjoyment the movie’s action figures gave me as I bashed them around in my Little Tikes green turtle sandbox.  Now, almost 30 years later, a new generation of fans will be able to not only experience the mythological adventure in an all-new take on the story (this April’s Clash of the Titans CGI spectacular featuring Sam Worthington and Liam Neeson), but also they will be able to re-live the original film in all its splendor with a new digitally remastered presentation on the Blu-ray format.  But before we start talking about how it looks and sounds on its new Blu-ray release, I wanted to spend a few moments reflecting on the film itself and whether or not my recent viewing was as memorable and magical as it was when I was a little tike.


Clash of the Titans is a 1981 fantasy adventure film based on the Greek mythology of Perseus.  It was released in the theaters in June of 1981 and it did considerably well at the U.S. box office grossing $41 million.  The Ray Harryhausen produced film starred Laurence Oliver, Harry Hamlin, Judi Bowker, Maggie Smith, Burgess Meredith, Neil McCarthy and more.  The stop animation special effects employed throughout the film are also credited to Ray Harryhausen. 

So how was it?  I guess that’s the question I really need to answer here isn’t it?  Well, as what is the case most of the time for me, Clash of the Titans was simply not as good as I remember it.  Sure it’s a grand epic adventure, but modern day technology and effects spoil me.  I had a similar discussion with a man at work the other day.  I made a comment about the first Star Wars film and how the little things such as the blocks around the tie fighters and Obi Wan’s lightsaber bothered me.  He immediately cried blasphemy and asked me not to place so much emphasis on the special effects, but rather upon the captivating quality of the story and its hold on audiences.  Of course he is right, but for me, it always comes back to special effects and that inevitable believability factor.  For as much as I enjoyed the Titans storyline, I could not force the suspension of my disbelief for the entire two hours of runtime.  The technology, or lack thereof, simply broke the film for me.  Oh well.  I am sure you had enough of my special effects banter.  Underneath its imperfections, there’s still a good film here that deserves proper homage.

What it all boils down to really is a gripping love story.  A gripping love story alone can carry a movie.  Look how effective Cameron was with Titanic and Avatar.  Without that central love story would we have even cared?  The same thing holds true, in my opinion, for Clash of the Titans.  The film’s 2-hour journey is a grand epic tale of how Zeus’(Laurence Oliver) son, Perseus (Harry Hamlin), risks it all to save the woman he loves, Princess Andromeda (Judi Bowker).  Isn’t that sweet?  The only difference here is instead of a sinking ship or a bunch of greedy war bent humans, Perseus must foil the Gods’ evil plans, fight a monstrous Calibos (Neil McCarthy), slay a woman/serpent who will turn you to stone just by looking into her eyes and take down one of the biggest onscreen monsters ever, the Kraken, years before Luke single-handedly brought down the Rancor in Jabba’s Palace.  So yes, you essentially have your love story here with is the bread and butter of the story.  Without it, I’m not sure what you would be left with here.

It’s kind of funny.  What’s that you ask?  Before I move on and start talking about the Blu-ray’s vitals, I do feel obligated to mention the following golden nugget.  I have been studying modern day screenwriting as of late and one of the most useful books I have been referencing has been Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat.  Not only does Act II begin right on time where our hero is introduced and thrusted into his new world, but the filmmakers also decided to strategically place cats in that scene as well.  Whether the intention of the cats were planned or not, they made a favorable impression upon me.  All right.  That’s enough small talk.  Let’s talk some Blu-ray smack! 

Clash of the Titans 


As I alluded to before in my opening paragraph, the Blu-ray’s detachable rear cover art reads, “This film has been remastered utilizing state-of-the-art digital technology, while maintaining the visual appearance of the original theatrical release.”  In other words, better get used to that grain kid.  From the moment the picture began to roll I was instantaneously transported into a world of film grain unlike anything I have ever known before.  The film’s presentation retains its original 1.85:1 theatrical aspect ratio, but despite the remastering efforts, the 1080p VC-1 encode is inconsistent throughout.  The print appears to be littered with debris during the first 10 minutes of its runtime, but it quickly cleans up and maintains a warm/neutral palette for the remainder of the feature.  In reality, this is a hard one to grade.  There’s no doubt that this is the finest Clash of the Titans has ever looked, but as I mentioned before, it’s the inconsistency that is devastating here.  Some moments the visual representation looks beautiful and I have absolutely no qualms and then it’s like I walked into a screen door’s mesh with a light shining behind it and 1,000 mosquitoes swarming in the background.  Don’t even get me started on the visual appearance of the special effects.  LOL.  I once thought the visible wires in the Face/Off Blu-ray were bad.  I’m going to remain neutral, take into consideration the average quality of the presentation and agree to disagree with a score of 3 here.

Clash of the Titans


Here’s where I am baffled.  Warner Bros. spent all this time and money remastering the video, but why is the audio track still only 2.0?  This is the Blu-ray format right?  I did not put a VHS-ported DVD into my player by accident did I?  The DTS-HD Master Audio sounds all right, but never better than that.  If Rocky can have a 5.1 surround track, then why can’t Titans?  Was this title simply rushed onto the Blu-ray format to coincide with the 2010 remake?  I have an inkling that it was.  However, I do know one thing for sure.  I am not happy with only a 2.0 stereo track.  The track just sounded flat throughout.  I never strained to hear the words, but nevertheless I was disappointed when there were so many moments and occasions during the film where a simple rear speaker sound effect would have made a world of difference.  Instead, I never felt like I was a part of this movie.  It did little to encompass me and therefore, I never felt truly engaged in this Blu-ray feature.  It’s suppose to be a grand epic adventure right?  So where’s the thumping bass, the roar of the Kraken and the arrows flying by my head?  They are non-existent here and that’s a shame.

Clash of the Titans

Special Features 

Clash of the Titans arrives on Blu-ray specially packaged in a Warner digi-book case with a stylized embossed front cover and a stuck-on paper sleeve on the back (see all the photos below).  Inside the digi-book case are pages of production stills, character bios and 10 pages of images from the new Clash of Titans remake.  Speaking of the remake, $7.50 worth of movie cash can also be found inside.  It can be used to see the 2010 remake during the calendar dates 4/9/10 – 5/2/10.  Does it smell fishy in here?  It makes me wonder if not for this new remake would we even be seeing this film right now on the Blu-ray format?  It all reeks of in-your-face advertising to me and it’s rather quite brilliant!

Clash of the Titans Front Blu-ray Cover (Sealed) Clash of the Titans Blu-ray Back Cover Art (Sealed) Inside the Clash of the Titans Blu-ray Digi-Book

In addition to the non-disc features I listed above, the Blu-ray only has two extras, unless you count the 5-minute 2010 Clash of the Titans HD trailer and behind the scenes footage that starts playing immediately upon the disc’s insertion into your player.  The first extra is titled A Conversation with Ray Harryhausen and for the next 12 minutes we get to hear about his film career and how he became involved with the Titans project.  The second extra is appropriately called the Myths and Monsters Gallery and is presented as 7 quick featurettes where Ray talks specifically about the creatures in the film. 

If it not for the HD bonus footage of the 2010 remake and the movie, then this section would have obviously received a much lower score.  For this reason alone, I settled on a score of 2.  I think it’s justified.  Don’t you?

Clash of the Titans

Final Thoughts 

Well it’s always a tough call when a childhood favorite doesn’t seem to cut it any more 30 years later.  What do you do?  How do you rate it?  I tried my best to be fair with all my comments above.  Despite my love for the film’s story, I felt it only fair to discuss the Blu-ray’s many shortcomings.  So let’s be honest here if we can.  If you are a huge fan of the movie and are able to dismiss the film’s less than stellar 1981 special effects and the 2.0 sound, then by all means make this a day 1 purchase for yourself and dispense the misery of not owning it anymore on the Hi-Def format of choice.  However, if you are like me and not all right with any of the Blu-ray’s shortcomings as mentioned above, then I strongly recommend a rental before plunging in headfirst on a blind buy.  Either way, enjoy yourself and indulge the Greek Gods in glorious High-Definition.  You can always look on the bright side too.  There’s a new film coming in April that looks like it may conquer all the Blu-ray woes discussed here.  Here’s raising my glass to that!


 Pre-order Clash of the Titans on Blu-ray today!



Clash of the Titans Blu-ray Cover Art 



3 Responses to “Clash of the Titans (Blu-ray Review)”

  1. Gerard

    Great review Brian. Save the Cat is an awesome book. I own a copy, btw. lol

    I was at a club a couple of years ago and they played this on the big projection screen.

    I will add this flick to my collective (of films) when the price comes way down. It’s not even a priority at the moment.

    I am looking forward to the remake, though.

  2. Brian White

    Me too! This is one of the first remakes in a long time that I am excited for!

  3. Bob Ignizio

    I’m with your friend from work, especially when it comes to older films. I actually like Harryhausen’s effects, even if they aren’t as convincing now as they once were. There’s a certain intangible reality to his creations that I find lacking in all but the best CGI. Plus I just admire the artistry and effort that goes into his work.

    I’ve been revisiting some of Harryhausen’s other films recently, and where most of them fall short for me isn’t so much the effects as it is the human stories and the pacing. I haven’t watched ‘Clash’ in some years, but I plan on doing so before the remake comes out. I’m hoping the slightly better than usual cast helps this one hold up a little better.

    As for the technical aspects of the Blu Ray itself, I think it was probably a deliberate choice not to clean up the picture too much rather than a rush job. Hi Def can be very unforgiving to special effects that looked just fine on movie screens decades ago.

    I think the choice to only include a 2.0 mix was deliberate as well, as that’s the case on all the Harryhausen ‘Signature Collection’ DVDs and Blu Rays. I think Harryhausen is just very protective of his creations, and wants them to be seen the way they were intended, modern sensibilities be damned. Personally I have no problem with a disc including both the original soundtrack and a 5.1 mix for those who prefer it, but I do feel that making a 5.1 track out of stereo sound elements never really sounds right. Sort of like when people try to take old mono record albums and turn them into stereo versions.