I was never a big fan of the 1981 version of Clash of the Titans. Believe it or not, a painfully tired Laurence Olivier as Zeus, and mini-skirt-wearing Harry Hamlin with flowers in his hair just didn't do it for me. But the Ray Harryhausen stop-motion special effects were cool. For decades, Harryhausen was the go-to guy for all things monsters --- - Three Sinbad Voyage movies, Jason and the Argonauts and Mysterious Island to name a few. Faithfully, this Clash of the Titans includes all of Harryhausen's monsters from the original with pumped-up technology and CGI. Unfortunately, Clash tried to cash in on the Avatar-inspired 3D craze as an afterthought, adding it in later in production, and suffers for it.
The story remains mostly unchanged. Zeus (Liam Neeson) the king of the gods, seeks help from his brother Hades (Ralph Fiennes), and his son Perseus (Sam Worthington), a demi-god who leads a band of warriors on a dangerous quest to save the city of Argos, and prevent Hades from overthrowing Zeus.
Basically, this version is a combination of 300, Jason and the Argonauts, The 13th Warrior and Lord of the Rings. True to the spirit of director Louis Leterrier (The Incredible Hulk), this film relies on visual elements, creating a dark and somewhat credible fabled world. Although this is a great kids' movie, Avatar and even Van Helsing may have raised the bar too high with their non-stop action. Clash has lulls in its pace, picking up the action in the underworld, but when things get slow, the flick proves sleep-inducing.
Essentially, here's what you get: The hero from Avatar, minus the blue skin, (Perseus) goes on a tough-guy pilgrimage with his guide/guardian angel, (Gemma Arterton, assisted by a warrior (Mads Mikkelsen) who never smiles and looks like The Rock's dad. Perseus rides Pegasus, the black-winged horse, while the warriors fight slime-oozing scorpion crabs. They encounter high-tech Wizard of Oz bat-winged monkey demons, three wrinkly-faced witches who share one eye, then not wanting to turn into stone, battle and avoid eye contact with snake-haired Medusa. And if that's not enough, they have to save the princess of passion, Andromeda (Alexa Davalos), who's being sacrificed to The Kraken - the massive sea monster that everyone has been joking about since these trailers began rolling a few months ago.
The Kraken is referred to constantly throughout the film and it's a serious let down when it finally arrives. Zeus merely utters, "Release the Kraken!" and it rises from the sea, looks like it's ready to do battle with a transformer, and then gets about 30 seconds of screen time. Seriously, that's all we get after all those TV spots?
The acting is riddled with pork, every actor hamming it up to different degrees. Worthington keeps a permanent scowl etched in his brow, while Fiennes hisses a lot and looks like a cross between Huckleberry Hound and Axl Rose. Where Olivier's paycheck performance looked sad and befuddled back in 1981, Neeson is also set to disappoint with his stern portrayal of Zeus. Doused in glitter and adorned in flashing lights, he resembles a vagrant Liberace in a Vegas version of Mount Olympus.
Even with the advantage of modern-day filmmaking and CGI, this Clash of the Titans makes one yearn for the days of stop-motion genius. Even so, Clash was not a great movie in its original form and now, some 30 years later, the remake is plain bad.
Clash of the Titans
Starring Sam Worthington, Mads
Mikkelsen, Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Gemma Arterton, Alexa Davalos.
Directed by Louis Leterrier. Rated PG-13