Jason and the Argonauts (Blu-ray)
Reviewed by Uncle Creepy
Starring Todd Armstrong, Nancy Kovack, Gary Raymond, Laurence Naismith, Niall MacGinnis, Honor Blackman
Directed by Don Chaffey
Distributed by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Next to the original Clash of the Titans, 1963's Jason and the Argonauts is my second favorite film in the long line of Ray Harryhausen classics. Why? Two words, baby: skeleton warriors. And not just any skeleton warriors either; we're talking the most badass skeleton warriors ever friggin' made that upon first viewing captured my imagination and haven't let go since. Now that this gem has finally made the jump to Blu-ray high definition, I'm happy to say that said badass skeleton friggin' warriors have never looked better.
The tale has all the makings of your classic adventure film from way back when ... in order to reclaim his throne in the kingdom of Thessaly, Jason (Armstrong) must travel to the ends of the Earth to find the Golden Fleece. He picks his sailors, or Argonauts if you will, with the help of Hera, the Queen of the Gods (Blackman); and before you know it, our band of warriors are squaring off against such horrific beasts as a 100-foot bronze giant, the venomous Hydra creature, and of course the aforementioned and revered army of badass skeleton warriors.
It'd be easy to sit here and go on for hours about why this movie is indeed a classic. It's a monster-fueled slice of Americana that is sure to delight fans both young and old. Simply put, if you have the tech, this needs its place in your home video library. Let's dive into the goodies, shall we?
First off, the image. While the setpieces and human characters look nothing short of stunning, it's the effects segments of the film that end up suffering a bit. Movies like this were shot before high definition was even a thought so it's a bit rough around the edges here and there. There's a lot of very noticeable film grain and noise around some of the movie's more epic scenes, but it's never enough to distract from the good time you'll be having. A lot of the scratches and marks from previously released DVD editions have been nicely cleaned up, and in the end no matter how you slice it, this flick has never looked better.
In terms of audio you have two choices: the original mono track or a completely remastered 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack, which is really impressive given the startling amount of separation. It sounds as if this movie were made just recently and not several decades ago. Just wow.
Now on to the extras! In addition to the returning featurettes (listed below) that have adorned all of the Blu-ray Harryhausen releases, we also get two new commentary tracks and an exclusive photo gallery with some amazing storyboards. The first commentary track with Peter Jackson and visual effects artist Randall William Cook basically features the duo waxing on about seeing the film as kids and how it inspired and affected their careers today. It's warm, heartfelt, and at times pretty damned funny. The next features film historian Tony Dalton and the man himself, Ray Harryhausen. This second track is a true gift for fans. Having listened to Ray on all of his commentary tracks, I can honestly say he seems to be having the most fun here. At ninety years old it's amazing how much child-like energy he exhibits, and in the end it's all about the wonder of it all, is it not?
This is a can't miss package, folks. One made with a lot of love, and it shows. In a cinema landscape populated with all kinds of digitally created creatures and setpieces, it's nice to take a look back and witness the birth of these ideas. And did I mention those friggin' badass skeleton warriors?
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
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