I wrote earlier about some of the great Ray Harryhausen stop-motion animation movies, like Jason and the Argonauts, and mentioned Clash of the Titans briefly at the end. K picked this up recently with his dad, and came home and started watching it before I realized what it was.
Clash is the last film Harryhausen did, as stop-motion was well on its way out, and what a perfect end to his career: Clash is the Greek myth of Perseus and Andromeda, and it’s full of opportunity for Harryhausen’s wild-eyed (or –limbed, or –snake-haired, or –fanged) visions. Of course, it’s a tragic love story, and Perseus must not only solve mysterious riddles, but slay the deadly Medusa (he needs her snaky head in a bag, actually) and defeat the terrible Kraken, which threatens the kingdom and his beloved Andromeda.
A film like this embodies everything many boys (kids?) want in a movie: the drama of mythology, creatures like two-headed dogs and giant scorpions, sword fights ... survival and victory hanging on by a hair from Pegasus’s tail at every turn ... Why isn’t anyone making these kinds of movies now for kids? I know, we do have the Lord of the Rings and some other vaguely similar, quest-oriented films, but anything mythological or even based on Roman or medieval history (oh, geez, and don’t they LOVE knights?!) seems to be rated PG-13 or higher. Doesn’t Hollywood realize there is a ginormous audience out there for kids aged 9 – 12 who want the adventure, the magic and the drama, but don't need the colorful language of sailors, panting rendezvous’ with hottie dames in distress, or enough realistic gore to send them to bed trembling? Come on.
Ok, so I didn’t see the entire movie, but can tell you this: it meets the fun and excitement criteria for kids 10 and up (I don’t recommend it for younger kids), it is artistically well-done and quite nice to look at (several segments were filmed off the coasts of Spain, Italy and England), and the Harryhausen animation is not sophisticated by any means, but has its own distinct charm; K loved every minute. (Um, moms might not mind a strikingly buff and youthful Harry Hamlin – with lips to rival Angelina’s! – running around in a not much more than a loin cloth and shield. Ok, to be fair, dads might not mind the ethereal and lovely Judi Bowker as Andromeda.)
Besides the two leads, heavyweights like Laurence Olivier, Maggie Smith and Burgess Meredith are in the film as well.
Caveat: at the beginning of the film, there is a difficult scene where a mother and her infant are locked into a box, or a coffin perhaps, and cast out to sea. There is probably more gore than a parent might want, speaking of the stuff, but it seems pretty tame compared to what you see in many movies these days (hello, have you seen "Halo" or "Call of Duty" games? Yikes!), and it’s mostly monsters losing their heads. Not humans. There is also an early scene of a mother nursing, with a fairly exposed breast, and a brief backside shot of a bather, but as K put it, “it’s all kind of innocent and motherly,” and from what I read on IMDB, it’s fairly ... artistic. I highly doubt it’s unsavory, or graphic. (This is from the beginning, which I missed, and husband D put the disc back in the mail before I could take a look.)
Clash of the Titans is more fun than a barrel of three-headed monkeys, so put it on your Saturday night/rainy Sunday afternoon movie list.
Update: My point about movies of this sort not being made for kids? I just read that Incredible Hulk director Louis Leterrier will start shooting a new version of Clash of the Titans in early ’09. It will be rated R.