Updated Clash of the Titans is at least fun to look at
Nostalgia not being what it used to be, the original Clash of the Titans (1981) doesn’t hold up that well. Even back in the day, it was a fading echo of an outdated style of storytelling. Sure, there’s some wonderful Ray Harryhausen effects, but it was easily the weakest of the stop-motion maestro’s efforts.
And remove the eight minutes of effects, and what’s left was pretty much 110 minutes of a chore to sit through. As a hero, Harry Hamlin was straight out of the dishrag stable of vanilla heroes, and even the pros like Laurence Olivier and Burgess Meredith chewed the scenery shamelessly to retrieve a paycheck from the sawdust. And that gawdawful R2D2 wannabe clockwork owl was a sad effort to keep up with the post-Star Wars times.
But now that I’m done pissing all over the fond childhood memories of a lot of folk born after 1975 (in what was probably their first introduction to Greek mythology), the question at hand is: With the remake, has Hollywood spent millions and millions of dollars to do the same thing?
Short answer? No. It’s instantly forgettable entertainment that does some crawling on its own, but it gets the job done.
What we have here is set on the eve of humans getting off their god trip before finding another round of worship. The Greek gods aren’t all that happy about that. Without humans’ worship to feed them, they’re losing their power to toy with their creations.
Zeus seems particularly perplexed at the situation, so he allows his brother Hades to pop up from the underworld and start laying down some cosmic mayhem on mankind. After the king and queen of Argos diss the gods, Hades gives the residents of Argos a 10-day deadline to sacrifice their princess Andromeda to his enormous sea beastie, the Kraken. Why 10 days? Damned if I know. But still, with swords and sandals against lightning bolts and whipping tentacles, the situation seems a little unfair. That is, until Zeus’ half-human bastard son Perseus (Sam Worthington) steps in to start kicking some mythological ass. He grabs a posse of archetypes and sets out to get some answers. And it’s trudge, trudge, trudge across the landscapes picking up clues and weapons before saddling up his flying steed and winging back to Argus to kick some tentacle and save the princess.
So it’s pretty much what the original was, with a little more spit and polish. It takes more than a few liberties with classic mythology, but on the other hand, it’s a movie, not a classroom. And as a movie, it’s a life-support system for the CGI effects. As such, it’s not all that astounding, but it fills the running time a lot more than its sire. And it does pay out some Kraken eye candy. The creature design delivers with a cross between Godzilla and Cthulhu, and the Medusa set piece plays out a lot more satisfactorily, as it pays a lot more attention to the pathos of Medusa (her back story being that as a teenager being raped on the steps of Athena’s temple, her pleas for help were rewarded with being turned into a hideous snake woman, the sight of her aspy-do immediately turning men to stone). Although I was wondering why a snake-woman whose mere visage turns men to stone would need a sports bra.
Overall, the remake is not great, but adequate. Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes make for an incongruous reunion (from Schindler’s List) to do some scenery chewing of their own (while decked out in some seriously ’70s tinfoil armor). The humor falls flat (even the obligatory kick in the clockwork nuts to the aforementioned owl falls flat), but the focus isn’t on the narrative, it’s on the spectacle. On that count, Clash of the Titans is a matinee-worthy popcorner.