Movie Review: Clash of the Titans

Remakes are interesting. There is always the debate: do we need a remake? Will anything be improved if a remake is done? How would the remake pay homage to the original film?

Clash of the Titans, the original 1981 film, was a significant mile marker in my gathering of movie knowledge through the years. I remember it was the first film that I begged my dad to go see. That was hard in 1981 since one, I was 10 years old and two, we were on vacation in Singapore of all places. Having not lived overseas for very long, my dad thought it’s just a movie and well it will be like going to any theatre in North America. We were wrong. It was on the wrong side of Singapore down by the docks and for all Singapore’s beautiful glory this was a place most tourists don’t see after dark. It was still daylight when we bought our tickets and entered the theatre to see the movie. The challenge came after we saw the movie, trying to find a taxi at that time of night in that part of town was not a good idea. It was a little dicey but I am so glad my dad took me and I retain such a vivid memory.

I was amazed at all the dazzling fantasy effects by Ray Harryhausen especially his Medusa. I also remember buying my Perseus and Pegasus action figures days later.

Original Perseus (Harry Hamlin)

Clash of the Titans wasn’t by any means a classic by any standard. It was a pure telling of the Greek hero Perseus and how he must bring down the god-slayer The Kraken before it destroys his home city. Atop his winged horse, Perseus flies against the mighty beast with head of the Gorgon Medusa and as we say the rest was history.

The original detailed Perseus’s birth, his training to become a hero, his acceptance of his Godly gifts, taming his wild winged horse, the love he felt for his princess, the temper tantrums of the Gods, dazzling creatures and a squeaking, beeping owl. It was the perfect movie for a boy my age back then.

In the remake, Perseus has no wise man to train him to be a hero (“he’s a demi god”). A wild winged horse is tamed by touching the horse’s nose and a pretty girl winking. Perseus doesn’t love his princess and well Calibos is wasted because the love triangle between the princess, Perseus and Calibos doesn’t exist. The Calibos angle is bastardized and made me shake my head in the new version. That is a lot of the core story that is ripped out.

So you are left with this question: why the hell would Perseus save Argos? In the original it was because he wanted to save his hometown and the woman he loved. The 2010 answer is because he wants to avenge his daddy. Oh, I am not even going to get into which daddy. (There are three!) And yes because it is his duty as a demi-god.

The 2010 version just makes everything a hell of lot more complicated and it doesn’t need to be.

To be frankly honest, I liked the remake for what it was until after Perseus walks out of the cave with Medusa’s head. That whole last 15 minutes made me cringe. It was an awful ending and as I said without the proper motivation for Perseus it felt rushed, cold and inconclusive.

I liked Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson and Mads Mikkelson. They are super solid in this film.

I usually adore Alexa Davalos but here she’s useless because like I said the proper motivation of her character has been vanquished.

Don’t get me started on how overrated Gemma Arterton is. God (pardon the pun), I hope I start to like her with Prince of Persia next month.

Ralph Fiennes is a shadow of his former self here. He sounds like he’s a cat trying to cough up a hairball when he talks. I screamed with delight when I saw Elizabeth McGovern, where has that woman been?

Louis Leterrier knows how to make movies. This film looks beautiful and the monsters are state of the art (the Kraken for me was the weakest). I liked how Leterrier gave us such a difference between Olympus and Earth (hope Kenneth Branagh took notes for Thor). Leterrier’s direction here is really good but I fault the script for the film’s problems and internal logic.

The 2010 version is bold, brash, bloody, dazzling and in some ways very disappointing. The best way to describe both films is that the old one was Coke Classic and this is one is New Coke. Or the original 1931 King Kong vs. Peter Jackson’s King Kong. Needless over-hyped remakes.

What is strange about is it almost 30 minutes shorter than the original. I guess you can be thankful for some small miracles.

3.5 out of 5

So Says the Soothsayer

PS: I am only going to say one thing about the 3D. It’s not Avatar, people!

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