Ancient, mythical times plagued by needs of a just leader and everlasting peace are at the forefront of Jason and the Argonauts. Its Greek mythology and belief in Zeus’ mighty reign is an engaging adaptation of a vast lore that has lasted centuries of history. Legendary encounters with Gods of new and old, director Don Chaffey brings the titular hero to life, and the terrifying trials he must brave to claim his rightful throne. If only it were so easy. It wouldn’t be an adventure film without a dismissal of his desire to seat himself back on the throne, having swanned around the world. Doing so would be similar to returning home from University after a prolonged absence and expecting to have any claim whatsoever on which channel the TV is flipped to. Jason learns this the hard way, putting himself through a series of challenges, rather than rolling over and sulking for a bit, admitting defeat and watching whatever vague reality television is on at the time.
While his work here provides a mixed bag of quality, Chaffey provides ample enough content throughout Jason and the Argonauts. A keen utilisation and fixture on camera angles, theological prose expanded upon with great respect and desire, Jason and the Argonauts has much to offer for those willing to engage with the tales of old. Chaffey gives remarkable exposure to the rise of special effects and stop motion animation. Some of these moments have dated poorly, but there are larger moments, such as the skeletons, that have an endearing quality to them. Enchanting scenes are few and far between, but at least Chaffey gives it his best shot.
He has issues with pacing and music cues, jarring and failing to find their footing. What should have been a miraculous adventure where the hero vanquishes all odds is, instead, a rather flat, thin product that wishes to rely on a leading man with little charm and even less knack for wordplay. Actions speak louder than words, and while Todd Armstrong may not have the best of scripts to work with, he makes up for his lacklustre leading role with enough gusto and manliness typical to the period Jason and the Argonauts wishes to present. There are underwhelming pockets, all coming together for a moderately forgettable experience, but it is one worth witnessing first-hand, even with all the pratfalls and common issues.
While the plight of Pelias (Douglas Wilmer) may bolster the titular adventurer, the inevitability of Pelias’ downfall should not be unexpected. Jason and the Argonauts is simple, but refreshingly so. It lays its cards out for the audience to understand and fixate upon, but the real action and interest is elsewhere. Drag your eyes away from the story that feels a bit too complex for writing this underwhelming, and you have instead a series of trials and mythological beings playing with the fate of life itself. A consistent enough adaptation of Grecian mythology, and one worth, at the very least, looking upon with even the most cautious of eyes.