A few weeks ago, my beloved and I did a back-to-back marathon of Clash of the Titans, the remake and the original, in that order. I can safely say that the original, in all its cheesy glory, was way, WAY better.
Its pretty sad when filmmakers can't make a decent remake with all the access they have nowadays to computer graphics. This new film really should've been called "Clash of the Poorly Laid Out Plot and Underdeveloped Characters" because it was barely recognizable to the original movie.
Keep in mind I had not seen the original so I was trying to appreciate this film in its own right without getting caught in the critic quicksand of "Weelllll they didn't do this like they did in the FIRST movie...."Guess what kiddies: it was still crap.
How do I even begin to dissect this deplorable mish-mosh of Lord of the Rings meets 300 only both done shoddier? Well, let's start with Liam Neeson as Zeus. I'm sorry, but the last time I cracked "Mythology" by Edith Hamilton, Zeus was supposed to be a bad ass. Neeson plays Zeus like a sympathetic father who only wants the best for his world, and yeah, humans are flawed, but that doesn't mean we should kill the little buggers off. Plus, Greek women are just too damn hot. But he lets Hades, played by Ralph Fiennes, who I'm sorry to say is given John Travolta's hairdo from Battlefield Earth, push him around and convince him to start a war between humans and gods. Both actors do their damndest with the sad lot they are given, but when you've got a bad script and a bad plot, it's hard to rise above that no matter how good you are.
Also, the gods of greek mythology did not wander around wearing clunky, 12th century European armor that somehow sparkles of its own accord because uh, THEY'RE GODS. THEY DON'T NEED ARMOR. They wear helmets because it makes them look that much cooler, and that's about it.
Meanwhile, our hero of the hour Perseus, played by Sam Worthington (of James Cameron's Avatar fame) spends an inordinate amount of time whining about having to be half god and half man. Damn buddy, if I had the abilities of a god and my Dad was Zeus, I'd be pretty stoked about it. Also, the sword his Dad leaves for him looks way too much like a light saber for my measure.
From there, the plot gets more and more incomprehensible. There's some stone guy who helps them out but I'm not even really sure what he's doing there, and a woman named Io who follows Perseus around being somewhat supportive but why her character even exists is pretty much beyond me. We finally get to something that makes sense: Hades is going to release the Kraken, a big ugly beastie that's going to lay waste to everything and Perseus has to cut off the head of Medusa in order to turn the Kraken into stone. Medusa's character design was pretty well done. It was nice to show her as being attractive - considering the reason they claim for her existence in the film is a jealous goddess punishing her for being too beautiful.
But one character being well done does not a movie make, although if you are going to do one thing right, it might as well be Medusa. The director Louis Leterrier, whose credits include The Incredible Hulk, overloads the plot with too many characters that he doesn't have time to develop meaningfully and thus, kills them off or just lets them hang. Plus, he takes non-sensical liberties such as making Pegasus, who is classically white and pure, black. Why? To make him look cooler? We'll never know. And really, by the end, you don't really care.
Watching the original was like having the scales fall from my eyes. So THIS is what this movie is supposed to be about! Other than the plotline with Medusa and the Kraken, the movies are completely different. Yes, the special effects are pretty campy, but I'll take a decent plot that makes an ounce of sense over the previous mess I just watched. Laurence Olivier -now there's a Zeus. He's rude, pompous, and is looking out for his own, a far cry from the sniffling pushover that Neeson portrayed. Also, we actually get a look at the power of the goddesses, who are hardly given a nod in the remake. Perseus, played by Harry Hamlin, is elated to discover he has the powers of a god and proceeds to go on an awesome quest to find an awesome babe. No Hades, no war between the gods, no politics. Just a good solid adventure story that doesn't take itself too seriously. And let me tell you ladies, some of the outfits they put Perseus in don't leave much to the imagination, which is an awesome plus.
This is a classic case of a director trying to take a fun-loving, semi-campy adventure story and making it into "SRS BZNS EPIC TALE," when that's not what it is, nor what it ever will be. The presence of Bubo, a quirky mechanical owl that Athena makes in defiance of Zeus when she refuses to give up her own owl, embodies the fun-loving aspect of the film. But sorry folks, this remake is just too serious to have a character as silly as Bubo in it for more than just a mere scrap of a reference to appease the die-hard fans of the film, provided they had not left the theater already. Even though we've got giant scorpions and winged horses and a Jedi knight-type sword. Yeah.
Leterrier, just a small piece of advice for the future - if you don't want to continue to make spectacularly awful films, get over yourself.
On that note, I leave you with this charming and incredibly well-filmed snippet about what Bubo has been doing with his time since the original Clash of the Titans you can see here.
Toby sez: Clash of the Titans remake:
Vs. the Original: