“Clash of the Titans” Titanically Sinks

Hollywood has been awash with remakes over the last decade, confirming the overwhelming lack of originality and creativity in the industry.  Most of the remakes have been unnecessary, due either to the original not being good in the first place, or due to the original being a classic which a remake would ruin.  But occasionally a film comes along begging for a remake – such was the case with “Clash of the Titans.”  Originally released in 1981 and featuring big names like Laurence Olivier and Maggie Smith, and starring a young, hunky Harry Hamlin as Perseus, it was a fun Greek mythology story, with perhaps some of the worst special effects imaginable.  It’s not like 1981 was so long ago – the effects in “Star Wars,” released 4 years prior, had far more advanced effects than the original “Titans” did.  Full of stop-motion animation and claymation effects, the original film is laughable despite the good story.  So when I heard a remake was in the works, I was excited to see how the digital and CG effects could breathe new life into the film.  And on that front, the film succeeded.  But while the film stays close to the original storyline, the film feels rushed; it completely obliterates any of the “epic” quality that Greek myths inherently possess, throwing all its weight behind the action and effects, resulting in nothing more than a disappointing, boring action movie.

Sam Worthington stars in the remake as Perseus, born to a human woman but fathered by Zeus (Liam Neeson).  Mankind has begun to revolt against the gods, angry that they toil and suffer for them and get no reward.  Zeus’ brother Hades (Ralph Fiennes), god of the Underworld, convinces Zeus that the only way to get humans to start praying to Mount Olympus again is to drive fear and terror into their hearts, specifically by releasing the Kraken, and undersea gargantuan monster capable of destroying entire cities in minutes.  Perseus had watched Hades murder his family, and bent on revenge, he learns that the Stygian Witches know how to defeat the Kraken – cut the head off Medusa and turn the Kraken to stone with her gaze.  The film follows the journey of Perseus and soldiers from Argos, the Kraken’s next target, as he tries to accomplish this task.  Along the way he battles giant scorpions, befriends a tribe of ancient peoples, and eventually battles Medusa and the Kraken, flying on his winged horse Pegasus.

There is one acknowledgment of the original film, which was tactfully done.  The original featured a robotic owl creature of sorts that aided Perseus on his journey – it made no sense whatsoever in the original film.  In the remake, as Perseus and the soldiers are arming themselves for their travels, he picks up the owl and asks what it is.  “Nothing,” says one of the soldiers, and Perseus tosses it aside. 

This film could have been great.  If they had bothered to create any kind of character depth; if they had written dialogue that discussed the relationship between gods and man; if they had allowed Perseus’ journey to stretch out longer, to create a sense of suspense and exasperation; if they had taken any hints from the Lord of the Rings trilogy, this film would have been great.  The battle scenes are well-done – but they are short, and we don’t care if anyone dies or not.  There’s no feeling of relief when Perseus finally saves Argos; no tension, no build-up, nothing.  Oh, here he comes…oh, the Kraken is dead. Zeus is happy.  The end.  Yes, Perseus has his revenge, but by the time it happens we just don’t care. 

So it seems the two films have switched places – the first was a great, epic tale with horrendous special effects, and the new film is a short, bland story with great special effects.  My recommendation – don’t bother seeing either film.

Final Grade for Clash of the Titans:  C-


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