Clash of the Titans
Rated PG13/118 min.
I watched the original 1981 Clash of the Titans and its lavish remake back-to-back, and it was like comparing a 1957 Ford Fairlane to a Ford Pinto: one is clearly a classic, while the other is a total bomb.
Avatar stud-muffin Sam Worthington stars as Perseus, the son of Zeus, who leads a group of warriors on a quest to save a princess from being sacrificed to the Kraken, a mammoth sea creature. In order to defeat the Kraken, which resembles a reptilian Abe Vigoda, they must sever the head of Medusa, whose snake hair and killer stare make her a tough opponent.
The original film was a corny Greek fantasy adventure, but it was cheerful, exciting and a brilliant showcase for Ray Harryhausen’s stop-motion animation creatures, which still hold up almost three decades later. The remake, meanwhile, is joyless, takes itself way too seriously and is filled with busy but seen-it-before f/x. This movie has no personality—it’s like the most uninteresting parts of every sword-and-sandal epic have been fused together. The humans are interchangeable to the point where you won’t care, let alone notice, when someone important dies.
In the 1981 version, Sir Laurence Olivier gamely played the god Zeus with a dry-ice machine and rock concert lighting standing in for his “lair.” Here, Liam Neeson plays the role on an over-lit set with pounds of facial hair. He shares many scenes with an equally ample-bearded Ralph Fiennes, playing Hades, the god of fire. The brilliant stars of Schindler’s List are tripped up by their silly roles and come across like ZZ Top attempting Shakespearean dialogue.
Worthington is getting less and less interesting with each film and I wonder if his 15 minutes will be up once he stars in a 2-D, non-“event” movie, where he won’t be able to glower at the camera and brood his way through a role.
Whereas Medusa and her knockout set piece were terrifying in the original film, she is now just a ho-hum CGI effect. Even a cool giant scorpion battle is little more than actors getting tossed around in the dirt. Fans of the original will fondly recall Bubo, an endearing robot owl who resembles R2-D2. He makes a quickie cameo here, but the movie could have used more of him.
Even had I not seen the superior original (which, I might add, features two-headed dogs and tons of nudity and gore for a PG movie—awesome!), I still wouldn’t be impressed by this clunky remake. Like the 1998 Godzilla, with it’s over-reliance on CGI and lack of discernable plot, it proves bigger isn’t always better.
(It’s worth noting, for those planning to see this purely for the 3-D, that the enhanced visuals appear slapped-on and are barely noticeable; it’s a rip-off in any format.) – Barry Wurst, II, MauiTime