Category Archives: sinbad

Ray Harryhausen 1920-2013

Possibly one of the greatest special effects artists who ever lied passed away today. Ray Harryhausen was a big part of my childhood, and a big part of my adulthood. He influenced so many people, and in turn, he was influenced by another genius, Willis O’Brien, whose work in stop motion animation made King Kong the classic film, and the classic character he is today. He learned at the master’s side and took that art even higher. Harryhausen was one of the greats.

I can’t even guess how many times I’ve seen Jason and the Argonauts. I seriously think a hundred times would be a conservative guess. There’s nothing by Harryhausen that I didn’t love (and that includes oddities like It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World and the Puppetoons), but Jason is probably my favorite. I remember as a kid, channel 29 had the rights to it, and I never missed it when they aired it. The film is a beautiful piece of art, from start to finish, and it fueled my early love of the Greek myths.

I love the Sinbad films, 20 Million Miles to Earth, The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, and It Came from Beneath the Sea. I watch them relentlessly when they air. Harryhausen’s involvement in Beast led to a semi-rational hatred of the Godzilla films, which he felt both ripped off and cheapened his work. His statements to that effect didn’t lessen my respect and awe for his work, but man oh man, it did hurt this Godzilla fan.

I was never really a fan of Clash of the Titans, as by then, his age, and the amount of time it took to do his Dynamation, made him begin to cut corners and it just didn’t look as good any more, to me at least. But then again, Harryhausen cutting corners was nothing new, as 1955’s It Came from Beneath the Sea featured a five-tentacled octopus.

None of that diminishes Harryhausen’s accomplishments and my love for his films. We have lost one of the living legends of Hollywood, and a master of an animation style that may never be the same again. Ray Harryhausen will be missed.

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Quickies 1-8-2011

Me and Orson Welles ~ This is essentially about Orson Welles and the Mercury Theater’s production of Julius Caesar in 1937. An aggressive young high school kid and wannabe actor gets hired into the play and unfortunately involved in a romance with an older woman on set. Much like Orson Welles’ personality in real life, his character, so much larger than life, also takes over this kid’s story. Great stuff.

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time ~ For a movie based on a limited graphics videogame from the early 1980s, this flick has a good premise, lots of potential, but little was aspired to. Some nice special effects, some interesting plot twists and frequent nice nods to the old Sinbad movies of the 1960s and 1970s, this is worth a watch if it’s on television. Good popcorn flick.

Whip It ~ Drew Barrymore’s direction of this film based on the book “Derby Girl” by Shauna Cross is very good. Great drama, great comedy, and all with a heart as well. It has the feel of a contemporary After School Special, and that’s a good thing. One of my favorite flicks of the year.

Formula 51 ~ This is mindless shoot-’em-up fun that is carried chiefly by the charisma of Samuel L. Jackson as chemist Elmo McElroy who has created a superdrug. Robert Carlyle from The Full Monty is also fun here as the Jackie Chan to Sam’s more talented Chris Tucker. Turn your mind off, put your feet up and enjoy an hour and a half of action thriller fun.

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