With almost 250 films reviewed now, I’m at the point where I’d really like to wrap up this project of reviewing most of the films I watch. That being said, it seems as though there some whole genres of film that I’ve largely skipped over, so I need to fill in any important gaps. One such gap is the mini-genre of the Ray Harryhausen “special effects movie,” but once I got twenty minutes into this film, I almost gave up on the idea.
A very large percentage of this film’s contents does not sit well with the modern-day movie-viewer. If there’s ever been a film that screams, “THIS WAS WRITTEN BY HORNY MEN,” it’s this one. The story invents new and innovative ways of objectifying women, and it includes a deeply unsettling belly-dance performance by a claymation snake woman, which I hope and pray I will never have to see again. It also has a very strange way of treating the “magic slave in the lamp” character, and I’m not even going to get started on the white-washing. Even the visual effects are hard to swallow because the awkward integration of the stop-motion is so jarring at first.
Yet somehow, as the film progresses, it somehow seems to improve. Not in every respect, of course – some of its problems are effects of the time period in which the film was produced, and their near-inevitability is a factor worth considering – but in many ways. The story gets more clever, creative, and intense. The twists and turns grow more exciting, and the spectacles more believable. Maybe I just got used to its problems, but after an hour and a half of cool monsters and a catchy score, I found myself quite entertained. It’s not the kind of film I would watch often, but I can see how it appeals to so many of the great directors of fantasy.