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1981 Movie Reviews – Clash of the Titans and Raiders of the Lost Ark

by Sean P. Aune | June 12, 2021June 12, 2021 10:30 am EDT

Welcome to an exciting year-long project here at The Nerdy. 1981 was an exciting year for films giving us a lot of films that would go on to be beloved favorites and cult classics. It was also the start to a major shift in cultural and societal norms, and some of those still reverberate to this day.

We’re going to pick and choose which movies we hit, but right now the list stands at nearly three dozen.

Yes, we’re insane, but 1981 was that great of a year for film.

The articles will come out – in most cases – on the same day the films hit theaters in 1981 so that it is their true 40th anniversary. All films are also watched again for the purposes of these reviews and are not being done from memory. In some cases, it truly will be the first time we’ve seen them.

This time around it’s June 12, 1981, and we’re off to see Clash of the Titans and Raiders of the Lost Ark!

Quick side note: Since we launched this series this year, we’ve discovered that Vintage Video Podcast is doing the exact same project with two differences: First, it’s audio (naturally), and second, they are doing every major film. We’ve listened to numerous episodes and it’s fun checking off their thoughts against my own. Check them out over at Vintage Video Podcast.

1981 Movie Project - Clash of the Titans - 01

Clash of the Titans

You know those movies you remember fondly from your childhood, but when you go back to them as an adult and go, “Huh… I liked this?” Clash of the Titans is one of those.

I have absolutely nothing negative to say about Ray Harryhausen’s stop motion work as the man was an absolute genius at his craft. And I can even forgive the stilted human fights against the stop motion creatures. All of that is fine.

But the story is just really, really boring. Everything just seems too easy for Perseus (Harry Hamlin), and I get a part of that comes from the fact the Gods are helping him. But it is still just too much, “Go here, do a thing… now go here, do a thing…” There is no sense of urgency despite the ticking clock of Andromeda (Judi Bowker) being fed to the Kraken.

Part of this comes from there is really no indication of the passage of time. When we first learn of Andromeda’s fate, we’re told she will be fed to the Titan in 30 days. While we see Perseus do his quests, we see a night scene or two, but there is no indication of just how many days have passed. For all we know it has been like three. So there’s no sense of urgency to the tasks.

All in all we’re just left with a very boring film punctuated with a few interesting fights that are far more attention grabbing for Harryhausen’s work than for their actual content.

1981 Movie Project - Raiders of the Lost Ark - 01

Raiders of the Lost Ark

Where Clash of the Titans lets you down, Raiders of the Lost Ark is just as good as you remember it.

Raiders is still just this rollicking adventure that harkens back to the serials of the 1940s and 1950s, but it still works so well. Harrison Ford is doing his best Harrison Ford (Lets face it, he plays Harrison Ford in nearly every movie), but everything around him works so well. From the action set pieces to the other characters in the film, everything just gels and works so effortlessly.

It’s impossible to watch Raiders and not get caught up in it once again. Although it does help if you forget the fourth film ever happened…

This is one of those films that truly belongs on a pedestal and should still be studied for how you should construct an action film.

The 1981 movie reviews will return on June 19 with Superman II!

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Sean P. Aune

Sean Aune has been a pop culture aficionado since before there was even a term for pop culture. From the time his father brought home Amazing