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Review: Clash of the Titans

Or, more accurately, “Clash of Clashes of the Titans”

By Skimble

The Kraken from "Clash of the Titans" in 1981

The 1981 Kraken

In the red corner we have “Clash of the Titans” from 1981,  the original film with stop-motion animated special effects by the master of the art, Ray Harryhausen. With a storyline sticking moderately closely to at least one classical version of the story of Perseus, the film is fondly remembered for its take on Greek mythology even if it is a bit cheesy in places.

In the blue corner we have “Clash of the Titans” from 2010, allegedly a remake of the film in the red corner.

A picture of the Kraken from the 2010 "Clash of the  Titans"

The 2010 Kraken

However, it  pretty much dispenses with any sense of continuity not only with the film but with the classic myths on which it was based.

It is likely to be remembered for its kick-ass special effects where the various monsters are concerned and also for its shoddy attempt to rush 3D on to a film that was made in 2D, resulting in an unsatisfying 3D performance.

So how does the 2010 film compare with its inspiration (aside from the brief synopsis you’ve just read)? Will you like the 2010 remake even if you haven’t seen the original?

The Good

I was looking forward to this film for months expecting it to be an amazing remake of the original “Clash of the Titans” but with awesome special effects. When I found out that it would also be in 3D I embarrassed myself with fanboyish squeals of excitement.

The special effects did not disappoint; this is just as well as it’s more than can be said for the rest of the film. The giant scorpions were suitably, well, giant; Medusa was a hissing, serpentine horror (though I quibble with the art direction that made her face look normal except when she was turning people to stone); Pegasus looked like a real horse with wings who could actually fly (although I have to say that suspension of disbelief is harder when the animal looks so realistic and so damn heavy); the Kraken was a vision of tentacular awesomeness.

In comparison to the 1981 version the graphics are much superior. That is not an indictment of the original, which did very well with the tools available (I love Ray Harryhausen as much as the next geek), but a comment on the fact that technology has advanced and visual editors now have an embarrassment of riches with which to play when compared to their predecessors.

The only major disappointment with the graphics was the 3D. This film could have been an Avatar-like spectacle in 3D but instead for the majority of the film the depth was unexciting; in places the film didn’t seem 3D at all. Essentially this was a cheap attempt to cash in by getting on the 3D bandwagon even though the film was not photographed, designed or visualised as being released in 3D.

I also felt that the makers took the decision to throw out much of the original film’s plot in order to make the action sequences longer, leading to…

The Bad

The 2010 remake takes the original film’s story and incarcerates it without trial in a shadowy facility that does not officially exist. It then proceeds to waterboard it, violate it with a rubber hose, sit it on a chair with the seat cut out and hit it repeatedly in the testicles, and drive bamboo splinters under its nails. Finally, it takes it out behind the chemical sheds and shoots it before burying it in a pit of quicklime and peeing on it.

I appreciate that the original film took some liberties with the original myth, but that’s just a consequence of myth evolution. Stories are retold and embellished, that’s perfectly fine. I mean there are even a few different classical versions of the myth.

The new film doesn’t embellish, it ravages. They tossed out all but the barest essentials of the original story to make more room for action sequences. They added a new ‘mentor’ character and messed around with the very core of the original myth; the love story of Perseus and Andromeda.

They also removed a majority of the politics between the gods of Olympus. Rather than portraying all of the gods as having their own agendas and a habit of toying with mortals just because they can (In the original myth Zeus descended on Perseus’s mother as a shower of gold and impregnated her, for no particular reason other than she was locked up in a room and forbidden to have kids due to a prophecy, blah blah blah) they made most of the gods wusses who stood around doing nothing in particular and gave all the action to Hades and Poseidon.

OH! And they added Djinns to the story. Djinns?! In a tale from Greek myth?! What were they thinking?

Anyone who enjoyed the original film will probably feel likewise that the remake has violated the story. Those who haven’t seen it or who can’t remember it will probably just find the rough transitions between action sequences to be disjointed and a little unsatisfying.

The Ugly

Calebos was underused in this version of the film, turning up occasionally to harry Perseus and his followers but without him ever feeling like an actual threat. The acting also wasn’t that amazing from some of the cast, though props are due to Mads Mikkelsen and Liam Neeson for their portrayals of Draco and Zeus respectively, but nobody else particularly shines.

The bottom line

It’s a relatively fun action movie, I suppose, but don’t bother going to see it in 3D as that’s just a rip-off. In this case it adds nothing to the experience; How to Train your Dragon has far better 3D flying sequences.

If you’re a fan of the original then the remake is at least going to make you curl your lip in a sneer of disdain; it may also provoke barks of disbelieving, annoyed laughter or cause rants as you are leaving the cinema.

For Gamers

Well, the film completely loses the family politics elements of the Olympian gods, but you might be able to glean some inspiration here for Scion, or for strange creatures in any other game. As far as Scion inspiration goes I recommend ignoring this film, also ignoring the Percy Jackson film (though that was better than Clash of the Titans 2010 in my opinion) and reading the Percy Jackson books by Rick Riordan. They are a lot of fun and do a brilliant job of bringing the Greek myths to the modern day, even if they are a little cheesy in places.

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