I had three instant choices off the top of my head for this list: Jason and the Argonauts (1963), Clash of the Titans (1981), and 300 (2006). I obviously had some resistance from the other writers with my picks since they are the favorite among many fans of Greek mythology films. I also didn’t realize until later into my research that not many epic Greek fantasy films like this where made, and these three seem to be not only favorites, but the best as well.
Jason and the Argonauts was the very first film I watched that had the top-notch special effects created by stop-motion pioneer, Ray Harryhausen. Originally, this is what really drew me to the film itself, and not so much the story. I guess I’m a technical guy who’s attracted by craftsmanship first, and then I judge whether or not the story is good. With that said, I’m not easily attracted nowadays by CGI, which is why I think the Clash of the Titans remake sucks compared to the original. I am, however, more or less attracted by well-made, low-budget films that have heart in the making.
Now, Ray Harryhausen’s previous films had been generally shown as part of double features in “B” theaters, but Jason and the Argonauts managed to hit “A” theaters in the U.S. with the help of Columbia Pictures. If you are new to Ray Harryhausen’s work, Jason and the Argonauts is an excellent starting point, which he also considered his best work to-date as stated in a Columbia TriStar home video back in 1998.
This film is stop-motion at its most fun. You get to witness Jason defend against the indomitable Talos, who has been ranked one of the best film monster of all time, second to King Kong. Embrace a frenetic battle against the children of Hydra (the army of skeletons), that shouldn’t be be missed, and Jason’s one on one fight with the seven-headed Hydra is another technical marvel.
Aside from all the special effects, the story itself will undoubtedly draw you in just like it did me, if you like fantasy. Watch Jason, the mythical Greek hero go on his quest for the Golden Fleece with his men (the Argonauts), and the help of the Queen of the Gods, Hera, in this classic benchmark of filmmaking.
And we finally get to that video game mentioned in the intro…