Sony Pictures’ new Blu-ray release of the Ray Harryhausen spectacular JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS is a joy to behold. The film has never come close to looking this good in any previous home release. Colors are vibrant yet never pushed and flesh tones appear natural. From first frame to last, JASON wows with its imagery and the clarity of this Blu-ray release will surprise and delight those who have only seen it in old TV prints or sub-par video releases. It is, truly, a different movie on Blu-ray.
An influential film for many filmmakers including Peter Jackson who adds his voice to one of the Blu-ray’s two commentary tracks, JASON is widely considered by many to be Harryhausen’s masterwork. Directed by Don Chaffey (who went on to direct ONE MILLION YEARS B.C. as well as a host of Disney films and more TV series episodes than you can shake a stick at) JASON was also produced by long-time Harryhausen partner Charles H. Schneer.
Coming just three films after the other popular Harryhausen favorite, THE 7TH VOYAGE OF SINBAD (see my review HERE), JASON shows not only an improved sense of storytelling all around, but the effects have made a giant leap forward showcasing Harryhausen’s ever-increasing inventiveness and imagination. Todd Armstrong as Jason is wonderful, strong and vulnerable all at the same time, and Nancy Kovack as Medea is sumptuous and otherworldly. And the moment when Talos turns his head is still one of the greatest moments in cinema history, and the army of fighting skeletons sprouting from the earth will send chills of delight up your spine!
JASON is presented on Blu-ray in the 1.66:1 aspect ratio. This is a compromise between the 1.85:1 theatrical release ratio and Harryhausen’s desire to NOT make films in any of the widescreen formats. The film fits comfortably in this framing and never looks as if it were meant for any other. Sony has transferred JASON using the MPEG-4 AVC Video codec at a bitrate of 27.92 mbps.
The audio is also superior to any previous release and is, surprisingly for the age of the film, quite aggressive. Bernard Hermann’s score envelopes in its lossless DTS-HD Master Audio presentation and ambient surrounds, such as the creaking of the Argo and the surrounding sea, are vivid and breathtaking.
• Commentary with Ray Harryhausen and film historian Tim Dalton
• Commentary with Peter Jackson and visuals effects artists William Randall Cook
• Original Skeleton Fight Storyboards
• The Harryhausen Legacy (25:32)
• The Harryhausen Chronicles narrated by Leonard Nimoy (57:58)
• Landis interviews Harryhausen (11:53)
And for those L.A.-based readers, don’t miss the Ray Harryhausen exhibit over at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences running now through August 22nd. Many of the original creature models from JASON can be seen on display there.