A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this movie is based on a Greek myth, and though it is aimed at young audiences, it contains medium-level fantasy violence (some swordplay with blood), some scares (mostly characters like gruesome witches that share an eyeball, Medusa and her snake-hair, and a skeletal ferryman), and some nudity (mostly nonsexual and not up close, plus one covered shot of a couple in bed together). The movie features the work of legendary special effects master Ray Harryhausen, and it has a certain cult appeal because of this; it's filled with unique -- if somewhat dated -- stop-motion animation and creatures. Modern day kids may find it all a bit wooden, slow, and/or dull, but parents who saw it when it was new in the early 1980s may be thrilled to see it again.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Perseus (Harry Hamlin), the mortal son of Zeus, goes on a quest designed and directed by Zeus (Laurence Olivier). The angry goddess Thetis (Maggie Smith) tries to hinder his path. He must solve a riddle and win the hand of the beautiful Andromeda (Judi Bowker) and defeat her former betrothed Calibos, who has been turned into a monster (and who is the son of Thetis). With the help of the poet Ammon (Burgess Meredith) and a robot owl, Perseus must also catch and tame the winged horse Pegasus, overcome some giant scorpions, and behead the evil Medusa, all in an attempt to stop his new bride from being sacrificed to the giant creature known as the Kraken.
Is it any good?
Though CLASH OF THE TITANS can hardly be called a good movie, it has a certain quality -- a combination of camp and nostalgia -- that makes it appealing. Ray Harryhausen's visual effects were, and still are, the high point. His old-fashioned stop-motion animation reached a new complexity here, though some of it obviously works better than the rest. A "cute" little robot owl is all too clearly an attempt to copy Star Wars. But the Medusa sequence, especially, is a delightful high point.
And certainly the original mythology is interesting as well. But Desmond Davis' direction lies somewhere between wooden and leaden, the young cast is pretty and vacant, and the veterans, including Laurence Olivier, Maggie Smith, and Claire Bloom, look bewildered and bored. It all goes on far too long, but the underlying themes of the original story are intact and leave some food for thought, even today.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the movie's violence. Was it realistic? When it's a fantasy movie does it have less impact?
One of the gods asks, "what if courage and imagination became everyday mortal qualities? What will become of us?" And Zeus replies, "we would no longer be needed. But, for the moment, there is sufficient cowardice, sloth, and mendacity down there on Earth to last forever." What did he mean by this?
How is an ancient myth like this one relevant to today?
How much did Perseus achieve by himself, and how much did the gods help him out? Do we all have the power to choose our own actions and our own destinies?
- In theaters: June 12, 1981
- On DVD or streaming: June 1, 2004
- Cast: Harry Hamlin, Laurence Olivier, Maggie Smith
- Director: Desmond Davis
- Studio: Warner Home Video
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Run time: 118 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- Last updated: September 21, 2019
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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