Jason and the Argonauts (1963)

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9.0 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 10/10

Classic stop-motion animation by Ray Harryhausen

Story is very open ended and feels incomplete

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Jason and the Argonauts

Studio:  Morningside Productions

Genre(s):  Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Action/Adventure/Family

Release Date(s):  June 19, 1963

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated

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I will crush you little people!

Jason (Todd Armstrong) is on a quest that could challenge the gods.  Turning his back on Zeus’s aid, Jason assembles his own team of sailors to travel to the ends of the earth to discover a legendary golden fleece.  Jason and his crew upon the Argos must locate the land housing the Golden Fleece and will face a giant, harpies, clashing rocks, skeletons, and a serpent to find it…and Jason might have to turn to the gods to survive.

Directed by Don Chaffey, Jason and the Argonauts features visuals from renown special effects wizard Ray Harryhausen.  The sword-and-sandal film is often listed as Harryhausen’s best film and consistently is listed as one of the best fantasy films of all time.

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My favorite creatures from the movie…

I love Ray Harryhausen movies.  As a kid, mythology was my thing and Clash of the Titans (though a cheesy film) was a thing that helped turn me on to it.  Jason and the Argonauts has the same charm almost twenty years before Clash of the Titans, but the movie does have some faults.

The movie’s biggest problem is the odd, open-ended plot.  The movie starts out with Jason being sent out by Pelias (played by Douglas Wilmer) because he feared Jason would overthrow his rule…the movie ends with a cliffhanger and Zeus (played by Niall MacGinnis) saying Jason’s adventures are just beginning.  It feels like the movie was meant to have a sequel but never had one.  This negates some of the adventure, but the movie still is great.

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Really? That’s all it takes to kill the Hydra?

The movie does alter the mythology a bit.  I don’t really hold that against it since mythology is notoriously hard to bring to the screen, and myths vary from teller to teller.  It would have been virtually impossible to bring the myths to the screen as it really was (especially at the time the film was made)…things like Hercules (played by Nigel Green) and his “great friendship” with Hylas (played by John Cairney) are lightly skimmed over and myths (like Jason) rarely end happily.  The movie needed more motivation for the characters and the rewriting provides that motivation.

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The Army of Darkness has risen!!!

The story and the acting isn’t why you watch this movie however…you watch it for the great Harryhausen effects.  The movie is loaded with great monsters like his other films.  You have the metal giant Talos (who they don’t do a very good job keeping in proportion), the awesome harpies (who torture Doctor Who’s Second Doctor Patrick Troughton), the god Triton, and the deadly hydra.  Many see the crowning achievement to be Jason’s ending battle with the skeletons…I know compared to current effects it is poor, but I love the charm of the stop-motion animation.

Jason and the Argonauts is a fun (though unbalanced) movie.  The open ended nature of the story does hurt the film, but just come for the classic effects.  Fans of mythology will enjoy the adventure, and it could introduce kids to classic stories.  Jason and the Argonauts is definitely worth revisiting or seeking out if you’ve never seen it.

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Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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