Clash of the Titans
Directed by Louis Leterrier
Starring Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Gemma Arterton
Release Date: April 2, 2010
The original Clash of the Titans is a movie I have very fond memories of from when I was a kid. I remember enjoying Medusa, Pegasus, and all the other elements of Greek and Roman mythology, and I used to eat that stuff up when I was younger. And since the original was moderately successful and Hollywood has run out of new ideas, a remake was inevitable.
I’ve got nothing against remakes in general, so I gave this the benefit of the doubt and hoped that the creators could deliver a fun action film with some fantastic beasts. Having seen the original film, I think it is unfair to compare this film to it, because if I did I would really dislike this one. The new film stays close to the original story, but then tries to add elements that end up adding nothing. So, if I look at it as a completely new franchise, does it hold up any better? Sadly, it does not, as this turns out to be just another mediocre action film that is about as faithful to Greek mythology as the Mummy films are to Egyptian mythology, and lacks the fun that made the original so enjoyable.
You may or may not be familiar with the story of Perseus (Sam Worthington), demi-god, son of Zeus (Liam Neeson), all around Greek bad-ass. In this telling of the story, Perseus is raised by a fisherman and grows up in peace until his family is killed by Hades (Ralph Fiennes). Perseus swears revenge against Hades, and is still kind of pissed off at Zeus for being a deadbeat dad, and is just angry at the world in general, until he is given a sacred quest that will allow him to exact revenge against the gods. The story stays close to the original, but also goes in different directions. Without giving too much away, there is a different romantic situation presented, a whole crew added to assist Perseus in his quest, and a bunch of other changes that fans of the original may not enjoy. If the changes had made for a more exciting or interesting film, I could understand them, but they don’t add anything that make you care about the characters any more than the original story.
And that’s the biggest problem with the film, an almost complete lack of interesting characters, or anyone that the audience can get behind. When watching this film, I never found myself rooting for Perseus to overcome the difficulties before him, I didn’t care when any of his comrades sacrificed themselves, and I just couldn’t care less what happened to these people. The movie falls flat because of stiff acting from Worthington, and just a lot of unoriginal dialogue. After seeing the film, I thought about films like Predator, or King Arthur or The 13th Warrior and saw how much better they introduce a group of fighters that the audience cares about. Those films introduced characters in a few lines and the actors brought life to the characters, while the new Clash Of The Titans tries its best to give characters something interesting to do, but they feel trite and disposable.
Another issue to bring up is the reduction of time spent with the gods. Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes are the best actors in the film, and the role of the gods has been greatly reduced in favor of focusing on Peresus’ band. In fact, Hades, Zeus, Poseidon, and Apollo may be the only gods given names, and Apollo and Poseidon have two lines between them. The creators play fast and loose with the actual mythology the story is supposedly based on, but never make them more appealing. They strip the film of one of the elements that made the original film so memorable.
Having seen some early reviews of the film, including advice from fellow Geek of Doom, Vactor, I decided to see the 2D version of the film. I can’t say which version is necessarily better, but I was perfectly fine with the 2D version. One thing that is an improvement over the original is the look of the film, particularly the sets and the Greek towns. CGI has allowed the creators to give the film a bigger scale, and they have also tried to stay more realistic about the clothing and weapons of the Greeks, so everything has a more impressive look to it. And while the CG creatures have a more modern look to them, they don’t look or interact with the actors much better than the original’s stop-motion models. The Medusa especially looks more like a cartoon than an actual mythological beast, and since that is one of the main scenes in the entire film, it ends up hurting the whole picture. If CGI is going to be used these days to create monsters, there’s no excuse for the monsters to look as bad as they do here. Sure, the Kraken ends up looking okay, but everything else is very mediocre.
And mediocre is the best way to describe this film. There’s nothing patently bad about it (outside of a few plot contrivances), but it just failed to make an impact on me in any way. There are a few good action scenes, but there aren’t any characters to hold the plot together, and the fun of the original has been replaced with a seriousness that the film never earns. What we are left with is an action movie that was done better 30 years ago. I give this one 2 severed Medusa heads out of 5. Hi ho Kraken!