This trio of vintage films benefits from beautiful restoration work and bountiful bonus bits
Colossal crabs, big birds and humongous honey bees are the order of the day in Mysterious Island (1961), which tells the story of a group of castaways trying to survive on an remote island full of mutant animals. Very loosely based on Jules Verne's follow-up to 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, it's a gloriously daft adventure film that gives Harryhausen plenty of opportunities to showcase his monster-making skills.
With its menagerie of mythological monsters (including the living statue Talos, the Hydra and an army of skeletons), Jason and the Argonauts must surely rank as Harryhausen's masterpiece and is just as breathtaking today as it will have been in cinemas back in 1963.
If anything, the H.G. Wells adaptation First Men in the Moon (1964) could have done with much more of Harryhausen's stop-motion magic. While the script (by Quatermass creator Nigel Kneale) has plenty of fun with it's lengthy Earth-bound opening, the movie fizzles out a bit once the action moves to the Moon and only some giant alien caterpillars really give Harryhausen the chance to cut loose with a trademark set-piece.
Picture: While Jason and the Argonauts is an exact port of the previously released Sony Pictures disc (right down to the menu layout), this is no bad thing as the 4K restoration still packs quite a punch. The same can also be said of Mysterious Island and First Men in the Moon, which have received 2K and 4K restorations respectively, and demonstrate excellent detailing, pristine blacks and robust colours.
Picture rating: 5/5
Audio: All three films offer the choice of original mono tracks (albeit lossy in the case of Jason and the Argonauts) and punchy DTS-HD MA 5.1 remixes. First Men in the Moon also offers up an additional four-channel (L/C/R/LFE) DTS-HD MA track that delivers an agreeably expansive front-end backed up by surprisingly potent bass.
Audio rating: 4.5/5
Extras: The movies are supported by a wealth of goodies including chat-tracks, new and archival interviews, image galleries, trailers, and vintage featurettes/documentaries. The set also comes packaged with a 78-page book, featuring essays and interviews.
Extras rating: 5/5
We say: Three fun fantasy flicks given deluxe treatment on Blu-ray. A must-own for Harryhausen fans.
The Wonderful Worlds of Ray Harryhausen: Volume Two – 1961-1964, Indicator, All-region BD, £43
HCC VERDICT: 4.5/5
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