A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 254 – Clash of the Titans (2010)

Clash of the Titans (2010) – November 9th, 2010

Every so often someone decides we desperately need to remake a classic. Sometimes it’s obviously a money thing. Sometimes it’s a well-meaning nostalgia thing. But it’s a rare thing for it to be done well. Oh, it can be done. But it wasn’t done here. They made a concerted effort, and a lot of time and money and work went into this remake of the 1981 classic. Big name actors were cast as the gods and apparently a good deal of research went into the costumes and architecture. But for all of that? The best I can say is that it was a very pretty movie and the acting was fine. As remakes go, it’s not great. As movies go, it’s a whole lot of package and very little content.

Sadly, the movie started out fairly well. For about thirty seconds. The opening narration talks about constellations and how they tell ancient stories and whatnot, and then we hear about how Zeus overthrew his father and he and his brothers, Poseidon and Hades, ascended to power. And we were super excited because that right there is not bullshit! And then, as if this movie has something to prove and decided to do so by stating up front that it cares not about mythological integrity, we launch straight into how Hades made the Kraken from his own flesh and from there into something about how the world of men is tired of the gods. This is all to set up the plot of this movie, which differs a good deal in motivation from its source. It’s all about men rising up against the gods and the gods smiting them for being idiots.

I know there was motivation given to Perseus at some point. I suspect it had something to do with Io, who is totally not turned into a cow in this movie, which bothers me a lot more than it should. But Io shows up to confuse the mythology buffs and tell Perseus that she’s been watching over him his whole life, waiting for the right time to something something overthrow the gods something destiny something something. There’s a lot of heartfelt talk in here, about great destinies and the gods and it’s all more than a little confusing. Because, see, Perseus is a demigod, which he only finds out once he’s in Argos, and so he should be all super powerful and help the folks in Argos save their city from Hades, right? Except he doesn’t like the gods because the gods killed his mortal family. But he helps them anyhow. And you’d think Zeus would be all about helping his son like in the original movie, and he is, but he also gets all pissy and rants about how Perseus doesn’t pray to him. So no one likes anyone but they’re all off to see the wizard or destroy the one ring or whatever. Whatever in this instance being getting Medusa’s head to turn the Kraken to stone so the folks in Argos don’t have to sacrifice Princess Andromeda to save the city.

And okay, hold on. Let me get something off my chest. If a god showed up in my palace and said “Sacrifice Princess Whatsherface or I’ll have my monster destroy your city,” and then I trussed up Princess Whatsherface and dangled her like a cat toy for said monster? I’d be kind of miffed if said monster DESTROYED MY CITY even a little when it showed up for its snack. The deal was a princess for no city destruction. I delivered on the princess end of the bargain! That was to keep my buildings standing and my people not crushed. If the city was going to get smashed up anyhow, I’d have just evacuated, okay? Okay.

Back to Perseus. He has ever so many adventures along the way to Oz. I mean the underworld. He faces off with Calibos, who isn’t Thetis’s son in this movie, thank goodness, but is instead Perseus’ mother’s husband, transformed by Hades into a monster so Hades can stop Perseus from defeating the Kraken. Because Hades wants to rule Olympus. Which kind of makes me wonder if the folks who reworked the plot/script for this remake were reading the Percy Jackson books at the time. Anyhow, Perseus fights super giant scorpions and then rides one, and he meets up with the Stygian Witches and they’re nice and creepy. He fights Medusa and cuts her head off, of course. But before that, the movie seems to have yet more to prove. I mean, we can’t have a movie from the 1980s mucking with mythology more than the remake, can we? And we’ve already got the Kraken. Might as well add some djinn! I honestly started wondering if we’d get an appearance from Quezalcoatl or maybe the Ki-lin? And they’d have been gorgeous, but just as ridiculously unnecessary to the movie as the djinn were.

I know I’m bagging this movie pretty hard. I found the plot to be messy and self-contradictory and there were speeches and conversations that just made me tune out completely. The whole idea of men rising up against the gods is good fodder and all, but the movie never really follows through in one direction or another. Do we want to overthrow Zeus, or not? Do we care? The movie doesn’t seem to. And really, it shouldn’t have bothered to try a high-ish concept like that. Because the point of the movie isn’t the morals of power and divinity. It’s about the action and the fight sequences and the special effects and the monsters. And the actions and fight sequences and special effects and monsters? Are fantastic.

Now, speaking personally, they can’t top Harryhausen for charm and single-handed skill. Three people on the animation crew for the original made all of that amazing work, and there’s a certain touch to it that isn’t in modern computer animated movies. But the modern movies, like this one, are fantastic all the same. Medusa? Awesome and definitely pinged my ophidiophobia. I’m absolutely in love with the sort of winged cloak thing that Hades had following him everywhere. The Stygian Witches were supremely bizarre. And the Kraken. Oh my goodness, the Kraken. Take the Watcher in the water from Fellowship of the Ring and multiply it by a gajillion and you’ve got the Kraken, and well. While I prefer Harryhausen’s animation for its personal touch, I think I like this Kraken better for sheer terror factor. This is a monster that is the stuff of nightmares.

So yes, it is a visually stunning movie. I would expect it to be, really, given the special effects standards of the day. The fights are exciting and the action is great in general. There’s some real tension built in here. I wasn’t blown away by any particular actor in the movie, but I wasn’t displeased with anyone either. But then there’s the plot. And the fact that this was supposed to be a remake of the 1981 movie. And I get the nostalgia factor. I get that remakes get made to cash in on people’s fond memories of the original. I know. But if they’d ditched the remake concept and simply started from scratch, building a new Greek mythology based action epic, perhaps it would have gone better. Or perhaps they’d have ended up with Percy Jackson, and since that only came out a few months before this did, that’s a little soon for a remake.

November 9, 2010 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. I watched this with the Rifftrax and I don’t think I’d have made it through otherwise. I know that the 1981 movie can’t be as good as it seemed to be when I was little, but this one lacked the warmth and charm of Harryhausen effects. Medusa was all slithery and snaky and perfectly realistic in this one, sure, but the Harryhausen creature I couldn’t even look at.

    Comment by A. | November 10, 2010 | Reply

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