Movie ReviewsRating: 4 of 5 yaps

Clash of the Titans

Has it really been three decades since the original “Clash of the Titans,” featuring a mangled mash-up of Greek mythology, herky-jerky stop-motion animated monsters and a really bitchin’ Harry Hamlin feathered haircut?

The new “Clash” exists mostly to remind us how much things have changed.

The monsters are now sleek computer-generated beasties, snapping and slithering in all their 3-D glory. The gumbo of Greek legends has been remixed with the addition of wood-skinned sorcerers and some new humanistic themes.

And as Perseus, the half-man half-god hero, Sam Worthington’s no-frills buzzcut signals that this is one classical dude with a lot of post-modern ‘tude.

This remake is unnecessary but unobjectionable, and generally pretty fun. Fans of the original — who, like me, regard it with warm nostalgia while chuckling at its hokier aspects — will find themselves ticking off a checklist of what’s been retained, changed or dropped.

I was disappointed that Calibos, the half-demon villain from the original, has been relegated to a walk-on role. Although there’s still a nice touch of pathos to him.

And I didn’t like the reduced byplay between the Gods of Olympus. I really enjoyed the first film’s depiction of scheming, jealous super-beings conniving against each other, with mortals and their own demigod offspring used as chess pieces.

Liam Neeson gets in a few moments of thunder as Zeus, head god and Perseus’ father. And Ralph Fiennes shines as crafty Hades, dissolving into mist and turning a human queen into an ancient hag with a touch.

But the rest of the gods are relegated to mere eye candy. Danny Huston, as Poseidon, has about two lines of dialogue. The female gods don’t even get that.

At least the earthbound women got meatier roles. Andromeda (Alexa Davalos), the princess of the god-offending city of Argos, is prepared to sacrifice herself if Hades releases the Kraken, a powerful sea titan, as revenge for their arrogance. And Io (Gemma Arterton), an ageless demigod herself, takes on the role of Perseus’ protector and companion.

Travis Beacham, Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi deliver a lean, mean script that focuses on the thrill of individual encounters without an ounce of dilly-dally in between. Perseus and a band of Argos’ best warriors are sent to find the Stygian Witches — frightful triplets sharing a single eye — to learn if the Kraken can be defeated.

Instead of being the anointed, favored son of the gods, in this version Perseus is a poor fisherman resentful of the big boys’ meddling in their workaday lives. He even refuses the gift of a magic sword from Zeus because he wants to win as a man, not a god.

(Although I couldn’t help noticing he starts accepting these supernatural advantages … but only after his cadre of comrades has been significantly reduced in headcount, and his own neck is on the line.)

Director Louis Leterrier keeps things moving along at a brisk pace that prevents the audience from dwelling on any incongruent new elements. Like Perseus’ djinn companion, who looks like a cross between the “Lord of the Rings” ents and the Tusken Raiders of “Star Wars.” Or that the Greek team also includes, for some reason, a pair of Russian hunters. I think someone took a wrong turn at the Caucasus.

One throwaway joke neatly sums up this entire movie. As Perseus and his crew are arming themselves for their journey, he reaches into a pile of equipment and pulls out a certain golden mechanical owl and asks what it is. The gruff captain (Mads Mikkelsen) tells him to leave it behind.

Younger audience members will be bewildered, but fans of the 1981 film will feel their hearts freeze: “Not that frackin’ owl!!” Fortunately, the new “Clash of the Titans” has retained enough of the stuff that made the original memorable, and left the goofier ordnance back in the nostalgia bin.

4 Yaps

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

5 Responses to “Clash of the Titans”

  1. […] The 2010 reboot of the ’80s ham classic wasn’t great filmmaking, but it at least was fun, breezy and action-filled. The quick-and-dirty sequel also boasts plenty of fights, but it gets bogged down by too much existential angst and father-son conflicts. […]

  2. […] before. Neil was watching from below cringing at his earlier self. Martin McCann (2010′s “Clash of the Titans”) stars as an eerily accurate double of […]

  3. Joe Shearer says:

    I would probably have given this a 3 rather than a 4, but I would more or less agree with Chris on this one. I think the technical problems were due to the 3D being so incredibly bad, but don’t think Chris addressed in his review (he did note that in our discussion after the movie, though).

    I have read other absolutely scathing reviews from other outlets and can’t begrudge them their criticisms, but for me this wasn’t as offensive as other remakes. The story was a mash of what originally was a mash of Greek legend (again as Chris said), so mashing it further isn’t as big a deal to me.

    I did hate the Bubo joke, though, but I thought in 2D this would have been a perfectly acceptable effectsfest mindless blockbuster-type film with requisite flaws but still a more or less decent time.

  4. greg says:

    Wow, as bad as I thought this one was, I expected you guys to crush it. The plot was a jumbled mess, the effects were awful. The scorpions, in particular, looked like the humans were fighting against a movie screen behind them rather than a live creature. The 300-style-slow-mo fight sequences were drawn out WAY too long, and the 3D was laughable. At one point, you could even see TWO images of Pegasus racing down the beach, one superimposed over the other. I walked out and thanked Joe for making this one free, because I would have been pretty unhappy had I paid for it.