• A Review Page For Those Movies You Watch At Home!

    Couch Potato Movie Reviews is, obviously, a blog that exclusively reviews movies. What makes this blog different is the fact that all of the films we are reviewing are all movies that are available on home movie rental companies such as Redbox, Netflix, Blockbuster, and your quickly disappearing neighborhood rental store. This blog is designed to take a more detailed look at those movies that either were sent straight to DVD, received a very limited release in the theaters, or were distributed through the art house or film festival circuit. We will also review those big Hollywood films, but only after they are available for home viewing.

    All the reviews are written by fans of the great art of film making rather than some newspaper reviewer or stuffy film student. We don’t know everything about film but we do know what we like, and we are more than happy to share our opinions with you. What you do with those opinions are totally up to you, although comments are welcome and encouraged.

    Each film review has a one to five star rating at the end of the critique. Here is what those star ratings mean for you couch potatoes:

    * * * * * : Five stars: go and buy this one, don’t just rent it!

    * * * * : Four stars: put this at the top of your rental list.

    * * * : Three stars: average, not bad just not great either.

    * * : Two stars: only rent if you have to see everything.

    * : One star: don’t waste your time with this.

Jason And The Argonauts

TITLE: Jason And The Argonauts

YEAR: 1963

GENRE: Fantasy

Before the advent of CGI, special effects in science fiction and fantasy films could be difficult for film makers to create. Most of the time it was easy for the viewers to see the strings on the spaceships or the zipper on the back of the rubber monster suit. When a film did capture the special effects in a quality way the movie more than likely became an instant classic, such as King Kong (1931), Metropolis, and The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951, not the Keanu Reeves debacle). Such is the case of Jason And The Argonauts, a fairly standard fantasy film if not for the amazing stop-motion special effects by the legendary Ray Harryhausen.

The story of Jason And The Argonauts comes from Greek mythology. Jason (played by Todd Armstrong) is prophesized to become the leader of Thessaly  In order to prove his worth to the throne, the gods led by Zeus (Niall MacGinnis) send Jason on an odyssey to Colchis to find the Golden Fleece. Jason assembles the greatest collection of sailors in all of Greece including the legendary Hercules (Nigel Green), and the nautical warriors head off into the unknown horizon. While on the journey the gods look down from Mount Olympus and throws obstacles of epic proportions in the way of the brave seamen. The goddess Hera (Honor Blackman) takes pity on Jason and his men and blocks attempts to destroy the men by gods who care less about the affairs of mere mortals. Will Jason and his band of rough and tumble men fulfill their mission and complete their journey?

The storyline, acting, and costuming is nothing special and is fairly stereotypical of many sword and sandal films of the time, that is until one gets to the special effects. This is where Harryhausen takes over and turns an average story into a film that should be obligatory viewing for any film student. Considering that Jason And The Argonauts is almost fifty years old, the effects hold up quite well and for their time were nothing short of spectacular. Harryhausen creates numerous wonders straight out of Greek mythology including a multi-headed hydra and a statue that comes to vivid life. The greatest effect of Jason And The Argonauts happens at the end of the film when an army of sword-swinging skeletons rises from the dead in an epic battle with the humans that are absolutely amazing to watch. The production of the film is also well done and gives Harryhausen a great platform to create the wonders that made him a Hollywood legend.

Hollywood releases a special effects extravaganza about every other week, but back in the early 60’s Jason And The Argonauts was a one of a kind. This was Harryhausen’s first film released as an “A” production and was the film that cemented his reputation as one of the groundbreaking special effects coordinators of any generation. Jason And The Argonauts is one of those films that captured the imagination of the generation of the people who were fortunate enough to watch this in those beautiful downtown theaters of days gone by. Some may consider the effects a bit hokey in these CGI days, but Jason And The Argonauts is a classic in the realm of fantasy special effects. I wish the story was more compelling or the acting more classic, but the effects are the star of Jason And The Argonauts and in this respect the film shines like the brightest star in the sky.

* * * 1/2

–Mark

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