Review of Clash of the Titans: Old vs New
I saw the new remake of Clash of the Titans with my buddy Dr Mike last week. After watching it I got jazzed to watch the original 1981 version, so I queued it up on Netflix streaming and watched it this past weekend. Here is a review and comparison of the two movies.
Clash of the Titans (1981) – I loved this movie when I was a kid. I also hadn’t watched it since I was a kid, so, as happens very often, it’s entirely possible that my 7 year old self didn’t know what the hell he was talking about so I decided to watch this classic again. How does it stand up? Not bad. I was surprised how much of the movie I actually remembered. Like in the new remake, the Gods are played by awesome and well respected actors; Sir Lawrence Olivier, Ursula Andress and Maggie Smith. There’s also an awesome role played by Burgess Meredith, and Julie Bowker, who plays Andromeda, is gorgeous. So the casting, so far was great. Except for Harry Hamlin. I’ve never been a huge fan of him, and this movie did nothing to change that perception, but the movie worked despite me not really even liking the actor (I didn’t mind Perseus as a character). And I love the Harryhausen stop motion effects. Medusa, Calibos and the Kraken just rule in this movie. I don’t know what it is, but the stop motion just works for me in a throwback/vintage way. And the whole “hero’s journey” that is setup for Perseus to save Andromeda really works as a story. There were some slow parts yes, but on the whole the movie rocks. Calibos, the giant scorpions, the battle with Medusa, Bubo, the Stygian Witches. It all just worked. I really enjoyed it. This is one movie that really could have aged and been terrible on a modern viewing, but it is fun, the effects are great and the story is interesting.
Clash of the Titans (2010) – Okay, now let’s talk about the remake. On paper, this looks to be very similar experience for me. Lots of mythology and the Gods are played by awesome and well-respected actors. Alexa Davalos as Andromeda is gorgeous and, again, I’m not a big fan of the actor playing Perseus. However, I didn’t like Hamlin in the original either, and it worked, so it shouldn’t be a big deal. First, the good things in the movie. EVERYTHING with the Gods. Liam Neeson as Zeus and Ralph Fiennes as Hades work on every conceivable level. They came with their game faces on and everything with them and the entire design of Olympus just works…period. I’m a little confused that they cast the great Danny Huston as Poseidon and he only gets one line. ONE LINE!? Anyway, all of the action scenes and effects are exciting and visually spectacular. The Kraken looks awesome as do the Stygian Witches, giant scorpions, Medusa and Calibos. Actually, Jason Flemyng as Calibos is FANTASTIC. He’s not used enough and is dispatched way too easily. But when he’s there, he’s bad ass. The set design for this movie is ridiculous. They really went nuts with the environments.
Now, the bad. Two things ruin this movie; Sam Worthington and the script. Sam Worthington, as an actor, is boring. He brings nothing to the table. I have trouble understanding why he’s the current “it” actor. Marcus Wright = Jake Sully = Perseus. The movies he’s been in have worked despite the fact that he’s in them, not because he’s in them. Perseus comes off as a pissed off, petulant child. He’s a Demi-God, fathered by Zeus, raised by a fisherman. When the fisherman is killed by Hades, Perseus gets pissed at the Gods and vows to kill them all (makes sense). So, he defeats Medusa and the Kraken because he’s mad at Daddy and not because he’s fallen in love with Andromeda and wants to save her. It’s not really clear why Andromeda is even in this movie because there’s really no need for her. The whole movie is more an angry revenge movie and not a save the damsel/hero’s journey. Throughout the movie Perseus continues to act like a petulant child, refusing gifts from the Gods like a bad ass sword and Pegesus the flying horse, and whining about doing this as “just a man” (which is later pointed out to him by Draco, that he is not “just a man”). Then Perseus goes on to use the gifts he so theatrically refused to defeat Calibos, Medusa and The Kraken. So much for doing it as “just a man”.
So, as a special effects movie, this rules. I will definitely watch it again when it comes out on Blu-Ray for the spectacular action scenes, but I’m not going to buy it because the character of Perseus is immensely irritating and the story is tonally, just wrong. Devin over at CHUD did an article on how much this movie changed in the editing process. Entire subplots were cut and elements of the script were completely changed. And like 30 – 45 minutes of scenes with the Gods were cut out. CUT OUT! WTF?! This movie had a ton of potential, and don’t get me wrong, it’s a fun movie, but it could have been so much better.
Another thing to mention about the remake. This movie has been super hyped as a 3-D spectacle. I should probably tell you now, this was a last minute decision by the studio. The director filmed and designed this movie to be 2-D. After the success of Avatar, the studios had the movie processed in 3-D after the fact and because of this, the 3-D transfer is a load of poop. The film wasn’t color corrected to compensate for the darker glasses, a lot of the scenes are super fast paced which wrecks havoc on the 3-D processing software. Save yourself the premium 3-D prices and see this movie 2-D. Trust me. From what I understand, Clash of the Titans 3-D is so bad it may kill off any goodwill Avatar brought back to the 3-D format.
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