Clash of the Titans Not So Titanic

Clash of the TitansWhen I discovered late last year that one of my favorite childhood movies was going to be remade, I was jittery with excitement.  Clash of the Titans was a film I enjoyed time and again, but notice I said ‘was’.  Let me preface this; Star Wars is a movie that used, for its time, cutting-edge special effects.  Even though they are no longer the latest and greatest effects, it is a movie that can still be enjoyed today.  The original Clash of the Titans is similar in that it too used what were once modern visual effects.  But unlike Star Wars, Clash of the Titans did not withstand the test of time.  Its presentation of stop-motion animation is unacceptable by today’s standards and even so far as unwatchable for some.  This is one reason why films are redone.  Hooray for modernizing it, right?  Well, maybe…read on.

Avatar’s Sam Worthington takes on the role of Perseus, originally played Harry Hamlin in the 1981 version.  All indications point toward Worthington possibly being the next big action star.  So far he’s got Terminator Salvation, Avatar, and now 2010’s Clash of the Titans under his belt.  Unfortunately, I’m not sold on the Aussie actor yet.  The guy’s got the looks for film, but his acting talent leaves something to be desired.  For one thing, his on-again, off-again accent serves as a bit of a distraction.  It’s not horrible, but it’s enough to make me remember it occurring. 

In the role of Zeus, we find Liam Neeson picking up where the late, great Sir Laurence Olivier left off nearly thirty years ago.  Neeson does an okay job in his role as it is nothing spectacular.  I think part of the distraction was the portrayal of the gods in this film.  They were all armor-clad in their Mount Olympus scenes which were incredibly annoying to look at.  There was this over-exaggerated glare off their armor and this hazy, purposely out of focus shooting effect (for an angelic-like atmosphere?) that every second these scenes played out was another second too long. 

Whereas Poseidon played a significant role in the original, he is virtually non-existent in this updated version.  You will find a strong focus on Hades, god of the underworld, played by Ralph Fiennes (Harry Potter).  The chaos created by Hades is wickedly impressive to watch as he literally unleashes hell upon the Argosian citizens, which leads us to our next topic of the special effects.

Hades’ devilish acts look fantastic on the screen, as do some of the feared Kraken’s time in front of the camera.  The aquatic monstrosity was an accomplished update to the original.  Other critics complained that you couldn’t tell if it was supposed to be a turtle, an octopus, etc.  Who cares?!  The thing is an intimidating behemoth and is a great rendition of someone’s idea of what the Kraken should look like.  Other effects highlights include the winged steed Pegasus and the giant scorpions.  Kudos there, but with the good comes the bad.

I already mentioned the headache-inducing Mount Olympus scenes, which were not by any means the most unimpressive visuals the film had to offer.  That award goes to the CGI of Medusa.  I could not get past the fact that I was watching some very unconvincing animation when Medusa slithered into a scene.  The whole sequence she is involved in is impressively orchestrated, save for the soldiers stabbing their blades into solid marble to use as footholds.  Medusa, however, was about as impressive as going back to look at Jar Jar Binks animation…and he was created over a decade ago.  Other such flaws included some of the green screen scenes which obviously pitted an actor against a fake backdrop and a few seconds of the Kraken splashing about.  Let’s go back to talking about some positive aspects, shall we?

Director Louis Leterrier took some liberties with the story but they all blended well with the existing structure of the film.  One such example is the introduction of a new species of character.  The leader of these magically inclined desert-dwellers just so happened to be my favorite character of the film.  With its piercing sapphire gaze and arcane abilities, this intriguing mystic did more by saying little and bringing a strong presence to his scenes.  Plus, he proved to be one bad dude, holding his own against a handful of the best Argos had to offer. 

I didn’t want to play both versions of the film off of one another throughout this review, but that did prove to be a difficult task.  In all reality, anyone who has seen both will surely have the same comparative tendencies on their minds.  If I had to pick which was better of the two, I don’t think I could come to a conclusion, but I would like to point out this newer take has a great tip of the hat to its 1981 counterpart.  I feel the story was stronger in the original with slightly better acting whereas the current film has better effects and action scenes.  Still, the first half of the revised film was slow at times, though cleverly modernized here and there with its dialogue and character actions. 

You will find this Clash follows more of a rebellion-against-the-gods story as opposed to save-the-damsel bit which proved to be a strong focus in the original.  I like the liberties Leterrier took in his version of the film and he shows audiences that he knows how to deliver proficient action sequences.  This is without question worthy of a Blu-ray rental when the time comes, yet it is difficult for me to suggest a theater viewing with today’s cinema prices and the overall lack of strength that the movie displays.


Clash of the Titans Theatrical Movie Poster


7 Responses to “Clash of the Titans Not So Titanic”

  1. Brian White

    What? No love for Gemma? 🙁
    “I feel the story was stronger in the original…” Really?
    I wanted to watch ‘The Bounty Hunter’ again when I tried to review the original film on Blu-ray.

  2. Gerard Iribe

    Gregg, Ralph Fiennes was not in Enemy of the Gates, that was his brother, Joseph Fiennes. FYI.

  3. Bob Ignizio

    I’m definitely more in agreement with you than Brian on this one, Gregg. While I have a fondness for Harryhausen’s stop motion effects in the original, I’m not naive enough to expect them to work for most modern viewers. That said, I think the remake failed to blow me away with the effects the way it should have. Your comments about the Medusa scene are dead on. She looked like something out of an episode of ‘Hercules: The Legendary Journeys’ or ‘Xena’, not a multi-million dollar blockbuster. The new Kraken beats the old in terms of realism, but loses a few points for personality, pretty much evening out for me. Pegasus and Calibos were both improvements (why they didn’t just do Calibos completely as an actor in makeup in the original I still don’t know).

    But being the kind of forgiving movie viewer I am with regards to special effects (I love old Japanese monster movies, no matter how unrealistic they are), it’s all down to the story and the fun factor for me, and on those fronts this movie was a bust. I didn’t mind most of the changes made to the plot, but I felt the removal of the love story was a major misstep. Andromeda gets reduced to little more than a plot device in this remake. There’s just no heart, soul, or humanity in this remake. Just a bunch of action scenes strung together, populated by characters who have no real defining characteristics. I didn’t care about any of them, including Worthington’s Perseus. Maybe times are more cynical, and maybe I’m just old fashioned, but in a fantasy like this one I want a real hero I can root for. I never felt that for Perseus. The movie isn’t a total bust, and I’d agree with you that it’s worth a rental. For me, though, I’d much rather watch the original, flaws and all.

  4. Bob Ignizio

    Oh yeah, for Brian – Gemma was hot. Give the movie an extra 1/2 a star for that.

  5. Brian White

    Ha ha. Thank you Bob 🙂

  6. Gregg

    Yes, Gemma was indeed beauty personified. Gerard, egg on my face. Thanks for the heads-up.

  7. Brian White

    How did you throw that egg so far Gerard?