Warner Bros. Pictures/Legendary Pictures
Directed by Louis Letettier
Produced by Richard D. Zanuck
Screenplay by Travis Beacham and Phil Hay
Based on the 1981 motion picture “Clash of The Titans” Directed by Desmond Davis and Written by Beverley Cross
When it was confirmed that a remake of the classic 1981 “Clash of The Titans” would be happening, fans of that movie sent up offerings to the Gods of Film that the movie would not suck. The overwhelming consensus seemed to be that the movie would try to copy the magic of Ray Harryhausen’s stop motion visual effects through CGI. I admit myself I had misgivings. I’ll be the first to admit that 1981’s “Clash of The Titans” isn’t Mr. Harryhausen’s best work. It was his last film and he knew that his time was over due to a small film called “Star Wars” that had ushered in a new style of special effects techniques that could be done faster and cheaper. He went out in style, though and while his “Clash of The Titans” isn’t his best movie, it is a helluva lot of fun to watch and one of my all-time favorite movies.
The strength of this version of CLASH OF THE TITANS doesn’t come from it trying to be exactly like the previous movie. We get three signature scenes of the 1981 version: The Medusa stalking Perseus and his men in the ruins of an ancient temple. Perseus stealing the magic eye of The Stygian Witches and forcing them to tell him how to kill The Kraken. And Perseus facing off against The Kraken. We even get to hear Liam Neeson intone those immortal words; “Release The Kraken!” But this CLASH OF THE TITANS goes into a different direction due to the tweaking of the motivations of the main characters. And there are a couple of nice nods to Mr. Harryhausen’s work. Hades commands a squadron of harpies that look a lot like the harpies from “Jason and The Argonauts.” Bubo the mechanical owl has a cameo. The giant scorpions reminded me of the giant scorpions in the original, naturally. But they also reminded me of the giant animals from “The Mysterious Island”
In this one, Perseus (Sam Worthington) doesn’t find out he’s the son of Zeus (Liam Neeson) until he’s up to his eyeballs in his quest to find a way to destroy The Kraken. He’s told of his immortal origins by Io (Gemma Arterton) while he’s being held prisoner in the city of Argos. Perseus has just seen his adopted family killed by Hades (Ralph Fiennes) Brought to the city of Argos, he is witness to another bloody rampage by Hades who informs King Cepheus (Vincent Regan) that he will unleash The Kraken in ten days unless Princess Andromeda (Alexa Davalos) is given up as a sacrifice. All of this is part of a long game by Hades to influence humans so that they will stop worshipping the gods and start to fear them. Zeus and the other gods grow weaker as a result while Hades grows stronger as his power is nourished by fear and hatred. Hades has been resentful of Zeus for eons ever since Zeus tricked him into becoming Lord of The Underworld and he figures it’s time he got the chance to live among the clouds and walk around in sparkly armor like the rest of the gods.
Upon learning that Perseus is a demigod, King Cepheus asks him to lead his personal guard to find a way to save his daughter. Perseus agrees. Not because he’s in love with Andromeda as in the original. He’s hellbent on revenging his murdered family and spitting in the collective eye of the gods while he does it.
Unlike the original, we get to know the soldiers that accompany Perseus on his quest, especially their leader, Draco (Mads Mikkelsen) who trains Perseus to fight and challenges him to embrace his dual heritage as man and god for the betterment of all and not reject it out of childish spite. It’s a good relationship between the two. And the characterization of the soldiers makes them a mythological version of “The Dirty Dozen” and not just a nameless bunch of red shirts.
And I like how in this version, Perseus actually has to work for his victories. He’s given an enchanted sword and the use of the winged horse Pegasus but he prefers not to use either one until he realizes that unless he makes peace with himself he will never save Andromeda.
It sounds like there’s a little more psychological and philosophical depth here than in the original and there is. But it doesn’t get in the way of the action and there is enough to satisfy. This is another movie that people love to bash because of the CGI but I’m not one of them. The stalking scene with The Medusa here doesn’t live up to the original, I’ll admit. It’s nowhere near as creepy as the original which still gives me goose bumps when I watch it. But it’s effective in doing its job in bringing a mythological world and it’s creatures to life.
So should you see 2010’s CLASH OF THE TITANS? If you didn’t see it in theaters because you listened to those who told you how lousy the CGI effects were and how wooden the acting is and that the story stunk, I’m here to tell you that it’s nowhere near that bad. I’m not going to lie and tell you it’s a masterpiece. But I am going to tell you that’s it’s a movie worth your time if you’re looking for solid entertainment. It’s not the Ray Harryhausen version and it’s not supposed to be. It’s its own movie and it earns that on its own strengths. Enjoy.