80s Fantasy Movie Review: “Clash of the Titans”

Cheesefest or Epic?

This poster: Cheesefest or Epic? The jury’s out in my opinion.

I have embarked on a quest to watch a number of 80s Fantasy flicks and share my findings with you, dear readers. Next up is “Clash of the Titans” (1981). This is another one I’d never seen before, so how does it hold up as a first viewing after 34 years?

“Clash of the Titans” surprised me by not being terrible. I’ll admit it, I underestimated it. I was dubious. Some early 80s movie about Greek mythology with a suitably strange cover? When the film started with a rather poorly overlaid shot of a bird that jiggled awkwardly around the screen as the credits rolled, my trepidation increased.

But then the story got rolling. Zeus is portrayed as a manipulative and frankly creepy patriarch deity (oh right, basically what he was believed to be in real life!) with a penchant for sleeping around and playing favorites. The struggle between the will and manipulation of the gods and the lives of the mortals and demigods that are thrown into the mix is a pretty interesting substory throughout the movie. It’s never explored as deeply as it perhaps could have been, but this isn’t a movie about philosophy now, is it? The theme was portrayed well enough simply by following the plot. I liked it.

The plot continues to be interesting throughout, as we follow Perseus through a pretty epic quest to claim a kingdom and break a curse upon his betrothed. The story never really seems to lag, which is a major plus, but it also draws you in as a viewer to keep watching. Bubo, the clockwork owl, is a pretty neat character as well.

Did I mention Maggie Smith was in this? And it’s over 30 years ago! I barely recognized her. Scratch that, I didn’t recognize her, but my wife did and we were delighted to see her. But she’s not the only one who did a good job acting; frankly, for a movie that could easily have gone way over the deep end into being a cheesy laughing stock, the acting across the board was pretty solid. I never felt the urge to laugh at the actors, even when some of the lines could have seemed absurd (though Poseidon’s “underwater” scenes are pretty silly). Good job, cast!

There were a few downsides to the movie. Characters sometimes seemed to have little-to-no motivation for various actions, many of the special effects don’t hold up very well at all, random nudity is distracting and unnecessary, and some moments of the plot are just a bit too convenient. Also, although it’s called “Clash of the Titans,” the “clash” is really just using Medusa’s head to defeat the Kraken. I kind of wish there had been some epic titan vs. titan battle of huge beasties, but alas.

Overall, “Clash of the Titans” was a pretty epic plot that was entertaining to watch.

The Good

+Interesting story
+Cool interweaving of Greek myth into the plot
+A clockwork owl, Bubo
+Shows how the Greek Pantheon was messed up 
+Well-acted despite some pretty silly moments

The Bad

-Special Effects don’t hold up well
-Random and unnecessary nudity
-Insufficient motivation for some of the main characters
-Multiple literal and figurative deus ex machina moments
-Left me wanting titan vs. titan battle

The Verdict

My Score: B+ “Although some aspects don’t hold up after almost 35 years, it is a pretty epic adventure with some fun story moments.”


“Clash of the Titans” was surprisingly good. Not any kind of all-time great, but a decent plot with some surprising reflective moments and decent acting sold it well. I’d watch it again.


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Time to Watch some 80s Fantasy Flicks– I describe my quest to watch a bunch of 80s fantasy movies. This post also features links to all the reviews done so far.

A Ranking of 1980s Fantasy that would please Crom Himself– The original list of movies that made me embark on this quest.