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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » The Colossus of Rhodes (Blu-ray)
The Colossus of Rhodes (Blu-ray)
Warner Archives // Unrated // June 26, 2018 // Region A
List Price: $21.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Ian Jane | posted June 13, 2018 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

Interesting more for what it foreshadows in terms of where Sergio Leone's career would go than for anything else, The Colossus Of Rhodes marks the masterful director's first full-fledged directorial credit (though he'd done The Last Days Of Pompeii two years prior, he was not credited for it). It's far from his best film, in fact compared to the westerns he's known for and the excellent Once Upon A Time In America it's rather unremarkable, but it is an interesting picture that offers up enough spectacle and visual flair that fans of the director will certainly want to check it out for themselves.

Set in the year 208 B.C., King Serse Of Rhodes (Roberto Carmadiel) is excited about the massive new bronze statue that has just been built and which the film is named after. Unfortunately, Serse might not be such a decent enough guy, what he doesn't realize is that Peliocles (Georges Marchel) and some of his pals are stirring up trouble and hoping to overthrow him. When a Greek warrior named Dario (Rory Calhoun) shows up on the scene, Peliocles and his crew try their hardest to recruit him for their cause.

While Peliocles and friends are plotting their rebellion, Serse is making alliances with the neighboring kingdom of Phoenicia in hopes that he'll be able to sway their military to rob from the Greek ships that pass by, offering them safe hiding in Rhodes for a share of the loot. What Serse doesn't know is that the Phoencians he considers his allies have got political aspirations of their own.

The Colossus Of Rhodes looks great. It's very well directed, the set design is impressive and the cinematography (courtesy of Antonio L. Ballesteros who also worked on The Last Days Of Pompeii) is excellent. Leone obviously put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into this picture and it's as cinematic as you'd expect from the man who gave us The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly. Unfortunately, the film has one fatal flaw, and that's in the casting of Rory Calhoun as the lead. Compare him to Steve Reeves or even Richard Harrison, both of whom are familiar to fans of peblum or Italian sword and sandal films, and Calhoun comes up as uncharismatic and out of place. He lacks the machismo of some of his fellow leading men and as such he doesn't carry the film all that well.

That being said, the film is definitely worth a look just for the visuals alone. In typical Leone fashion the film is cut fairly rhythmically and the score from Angelo Francesco Ballesteros (who had also worked with Leone on Pompeii) suits the film and the story very well. For an early effort the film is very well made even if at times the story lags a bit and the central star of the picture is too goofy for his own good. Thankfully there is enough spectacle here to keep things interesting, if never truly gripping. There's some great practical effects work on display throughout the movie and both the costume and the set design aspects of the production are really strong. Once the city starts to crumble, there's some genuinely cool cinematic mayhem to take in and it's this aspect of the production, rather than the acting or the character development, that makes The Colossus Of Rhodes worth seeing.

The Blu-ray

Video:

The Colossus Of Rhodes debuts on Blu-ray from Warner Archive in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed in the film's original aspect ratio of 2.35.1 widescreen. This is quite a nice upgrade over the older DVD release (which looked fine for its time but by modern standards is a bit flat). Colors are nicely reproduced and there are good black levels. The transfer shows a natural amount of film grain and is a bit gritty in spots, but is free of any major print damage, just the odd white speck here and there. Skin tones look nice and natural and detail, depth and texture get pretty significant boosts when compared to the movie's standard definition presentation. All in all, this is a nice, film-like presentation that offers up a visually impressive film in very nice shape.

Sound:

The DTS-HD Mono track on the disc is also fine. Optional subtitles are provided in English only. Again, we get a decent upgrade from the DVD. There's a bit more power and depth to the sound effects, particularly during the action and disaster set pieces, and the score has a little more strength to it than we've heard before. Dialogue is clean and clear and the levels are balanced properly. There are no audible issues with any hiss or distortion to note.

Extras:

The main extra feature on this disc is a commentary track with Sergio Leone biographer Christopher Frayling, the author of Something To Do With Death. Frayling provides a very scholarly lecture on The Colossus Of Rhodes. Anyone who has heard a Frayling commentary before knows that the man is a complete wizz when it comes to explaining and exploring the work of Sergio Leone and his talk here is no exception. Like some of his other commentary tracks, however, it's definitely a bit on the dry side. But he knows his stuff and has a lot to say about the origins of the picture, who did what behind the camera, how it compares and connects to Leone's other pictures, the sets and set design, and plenty more.

A theatrical trailer, menus and chapter selection are also provided.

Final Thoughts:

The Colossus Of Rhodes is far from Leone's masterpiece but it has its moments. It's more interesting as a sign of things to come but if you enjoy vintage Italian sword and sandal pictures this one is visually impressive even if Calhoun is miscast. The Blu-ray release from Warner Archive carries over the commentary and trailer for the DVD release and gives the picture and audio quality a very nice upgrade. Recommended for Leone completists.

Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.

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