The Way of the Word

29. April 2010

Are Comic Book Movies Doomed?

Several comic book based movies in the last couple of years have… let’s say not performed as expected. Superman Returns had a reported budget of $270 million and earned back $391 million worldwide. Punisher: War Zone cost $35 million to make and earned back $10 million. Watchmen, with a budget of $130 million, earned back $185 million. Box Office Mojo offers no numbers about what The Spirit cost (according to Wikipedia, it was $53 million), but it only earned back $39 million.

This month, two comic book movies opened essentially back-to-back. One of them is Kick-Ass (which I have already reviewed). With a budget of $30 million, it earned back (so far, it’s still in cinemas) $66 million. Since the opening weekend barely managed to gross $20 million, people cry out how this movie is a failure. Looking at the above numbers, I’m tempted to ask, “Really?” Because it did better, relatively speaking, than any of the above.

The other is The Losers. It cost $25 million to produce, and in the week it has been out it has earned back $11 million. I’ll grant you that this one looks very much like a failure in the making to me. But do two movies, one a perceived failure and one a probably failure, mean that the time of comic book adaptations is at an end?

I don’t think so. One thing is that none of the above count DVD sales. And more than one movie has been made profitable by DVD sales. Actually, considering that Kick-Ass has already earned back twice its budget means a sequel is virtually guaranteed. And The Losers might become a cult hit on DVD.

So before you cry about the end of days for comic book based movies, ask yourself this:

– Would Kick-Ass, which should have appealed more to a younger demographic, have done better if it hadn’t been rated R? Probably.

– Does anyone even know The Losers is based on a comic book? Probably not. If I really wanted to make the effort, I could search the internet to dig up the old sales numbers from August 2003 through March 2006.

What we have here, then, is one comic book based movie that is only a “felt” instead of actual failure, and another one that is probably not even perceived as a comic book adaptation. Rather, in marketing, The Losers comes across as a low-budget A-Team rip-off. Considering that the actual A-Team gets the big-screen treatment in just a few weeks, closely followed by the incredibly cast Expendables (yet another misfit solders fighting against the odds-movie), it’s more likely that the audiences saved their movie budget for either or both of the still-upcoming movies, rather than this not very well reviewed one. (I’ll wait with reviewing until I’ve actually seen it.)

Some people say that R-rated comic book movies don’t work, because they exclude a major part of their natural audience. That’s actually very likely. Some people say that deconstructionist superhero movies don’t work, because movie audiences still prefer their heroes iconic and inspirational. That, unlike comic book readers, movie audiences don’t yet feel the need for deconstructionist superhero movies. It’s very likely. The superhero movie genre isn’t that old yet, and hasn’t been sufficiently explored yet to need deconstruction. Until then, the audiences prefer to laugh with the heroes, rather than at them.

(Which is also why I think the upcoming Green Hornet movie will fail. By all accounts, it’s going to be camp. Now, camp worked to make Batman a popular TV show back in the 1960s. About 40 years ago. However, people have a different kind of humor these days. A movie that 40 years ago would have been celebrated as camp would today be considered a cheesy, unimaginative spoof.)

Bottom line: I don’t think movie audiences are tired of superheroes just yet. We’ll see how Iron Man 2 will do next month. Rather, the perceived failure of two comic book properties (which, as we’ve seen, has been blown wildly out of proportion — thanks to various agendas) has led to some overreactions.


26. April 2010

Review: Kick-Ass

Filed under: movies,review — jensaltmann @ 18:57
Tags: , , , , , , ,

USA 2010. Directed by Matthew Vaughn. Starring Aaron Johnson, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Chloe Grace Moretz, Mark Strong, Nicolas Cage. Based on the comic by Mark Millar and John Romita, Jr. Runtime 117 minutes

Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) is a relatively normal teenage boy.  who decides to become a superhero. Which, considering he doesn’t have any powers or training, doesn’t work out very well: he barely survives his first outing. After his release from the hospital, he gets back into the fight. When he saves a man from some gangbangers, the incident is recorded by the patrons of a nearby diner, and Kick-Ass, as Dave calls himself, becomes an internet celebrity. When he takes on a mission for his friend Katie, he almost gets killed by drug dealers. Only the timely intervention of Hit-Girl (Cloe Moretz) and Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage) saves his life.  Crime boss Frank d’Amico believes that Kick-Ass is responsible for the death of his men, so he tries to have Kick-Ass killed. Frank’s son Chris (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) convinces him that the best way to trap a superhero is to become his friend. Chris takes on the superhero identity of Red Mist in order to find, befriend and trap Kick-Ass. When the trap goes wrong, Mist discovers the existance of Big Daddy and Hit-Girl. He tricks Kick-Ass into revealing the pair’s location, so that Frank can capture and kill the superheroes. This doesn’t quite work as planned: Hit-Girl and Kick-Ass survive. Now it’s payback time.

First things first: I haven’t read the comic book. I don’t like Mark Millar’s work. That means that when I saw this movie, I watched it both fresh and still biased.

The trailers for Kick-Ass indicate that the movie is a comedy. Well… It’s mostly funny, but I wouldn’t really consider it a comedy. It’s too over the top cartoonily violent for that. The cast works quite well in their roles. People consider Chloe Moretz the movie’s breakout talent, and I’m inclined to agree. Also, if you (like me) have little love for Nicolas Cage, you’ll love his death scene.

Did I mention the over-the-topness? The comic book’s premise, to my knowledge, was “What if superheroes existed in the real world.” Well, they certainly wouldn’t be like this. I don’t think Dave would go out again after almost dying the first time around, and while there are abusive psychotic fathers like Nic Cage’s character in the real world, I don’t think they could turn their 11 year old daughters into this kind of super-ninja. Never mind what the story wants to be like, this is really a parody of superheroes.

It is the mix of the movie’s quirky sense of humor and the likable cast that make this movie work. There is a certain wink-wink-nudge-nudgeness about the entire movie. The actors don’t even try to play believable characters. Rather, they seem to enjoy laughing with the audience at the two-dimensionalness of their parts.

It’s really more like a slightly more serious and very much more foul-mouthed and violent episode of the 1960s Batman series.

I don’t feel I’ve wasted my time watching this, but I don’t think I’ll get the DVD.

Verdict: mildly recommended.

25. April 2010

Paris, France, Food

There are a lot of reasons to go to Paris. One of them is the culture. When my wife and I walked through the city last week, I kept pointing out a lot of world famous landmarks. Until I felt the need to point out just how often I used the adjective “world-famous” when I pointed out landmarks to her.

One of the points of our trip was to try the bread of famous bakeries. Specifically, the baguettes made by the winners of the annual baguette contest. The winner of said contest wins the privilege of providing the baguettes for the president for the following year. There was a lot to recommend the various baguettes. One had a superior crust, one had an almost creamy crume, one had exceptional flavor. The one we both liked best, however, was the one by Gosselin. Sure, it was beat in individual aspects, but we liked it best as a combination of the whole.

We also discovered that the croissants in Paris are (so far as we can tell) are the world’s best. Better than in the rest of France (from what we’ve tasted). And the best of them all was from a little bread stall at the President Wilson market (near the Metro staton Iena).

One of the questions in Paris is, where do you eat? There’s just so much to choose from. Again, the answer came from my wife. Sort of. She liked to read about baking, and one of the people whose blogs she is interested in is David Lebovitz. When she did the research for the trip, she printed out some of his suggestions, which we followed. On the first evening, we had falafel at L’As du Falafel, at 34 rue des Rosiers.

The falafel was very good. But that was nothing compared to what followed. The next evening, we decided to eat at Chez Dumonet. When we entered, we immediately knew we had made a good choice. It was not in a touristy area, and it was packed. I mean, really packed. We were lucky to get a table. The customers were all locals. We have a prejudice: if the restaurant is popular with the locals, it has to be good. The welcome was very friendly and warm. The staff made us feel welcome, almost as if we were regular customers who hadn’t been there for a while. Even though we had never been there before. The food (classic French food) was excellent. The duck confit was to die for. So was the souffle. Chez Dumonet is a place we would definitely want to return to, because we want to try the other stuff on their menu. (If you go there, tell them the couple with the forgotten dessert sends you. They might remember.) And yes, as I would like to point out: the staff is outstandingly friendly.

The next evening, we decided to try Lapérouse (at 51 quai des Grands Augustins), also a blog recommendation.  It was the complete opposite of Chez Dumonets. Lapérouse is classic where Chez Dumonet is folksy. Lapérouse is also very upscale. Initially, we felt a bit intimidated by the ambiente, but the staff was so very friendly (far mor formal than at Chez Dumonet but equally friendly) that we soon felt at ease. This was not a dinner, this was celebrating a diner. It was the first time I have ever been at a restaurant where the lady’s menu didn’t list the prices. Yes, the restaurant is as expensive as that implies, but we didn’t regret spending that money. The food was worth it, the experience even more so. Some of the food was arranged so beautifully that I was almost sorry to eat it. We might want to go back there, but when we do, we’ll certainly dress more appropriately. You really don’t want to get me started, or I’ll go on about it all day.

On the fourth day, we had lunch at Cuisine de Bar (8 Rue Cherche-Midi), which is right next door to one of the bakeries my wife wanted to check out: Lionel Poliâne. Put in the most simple term, the place sells sandwiches. Tartes, to be precise, as the French call them. Made with Poliâne sourdough bread. Yummy. My wife and I both agreed that David Lebovitz never steered us wrong.

The hotel was — let’s say a different matter. It was the Novotel Paris Est. The room was nicely large, but the staff was iffy. We had both good and bad experiences there: once when we had a problem, the staff helped us out quickly and efficiently. One of them even in passing, when he didn’t have to. He saw we had a problem, and offered help. The cleaning staff did their work rather less enthusiastically, and my wife had in one case a problem with getting a trivial matter resolved that I suspect might have been due to miscommunication. The dealbreaker, the reason why we wouldn’t stay there again, is the water. Paris is a civilized city, and you can usually drink the tap water. Not at the Paris Est. It seems they add something to the water, which not only adds a very pungent chemical smell not unlike detergent, but according to a note near the water boiler apparently makes the water unfit to drink unless boiled. My wife and I drink a lot of water, so being unable to rely on the tap water is uncomfortable. Not to mention that we don’t much enjoy sitting in a tub of hot water that smells like floor cleaner.

15. April 2010

Workblog: The Origin of Made of Fail

As I am embarking on writing and drawing some more Made of Fail, I think it’s just fair to tell you how it originally came to be.

Once upon a time, there was a young writer who wanted to break into the comics business. As, of course, a writer. Because he has no drawing ability, and not even any interest in drawing.

What happened was that over the years, he learned several things.

One being that comics don’t care about writers. Unless they are already famous. Don’t believe me? Check out any publisher’s guidelines. Writers need not apply. If you’re a writer, you have to have a full art team in place. No such thing as, “If we like the story, you’ll have to assemble your own team.” But a clear, “Unless you have an art team, don’t bother.”

The other being that artists are unreliable. I’ve had enough problems with artists over the years that I’ve concluded that a reliable artist is the exception, not the rule.

One day last year, there was the final straw: an artist bowed out of a sci-fi adventure strip we were going to do. I went a bit crazy and decided that I was going to do the damn thing myself.

Remember what I said above? That I can’t draw? Right. Over the years, nothing has changed about that. I still can’t draw.

Which leads me to my one major piece of advice to aspiring comics writers: learn how to draw. It’s an essential skill for comics writers.

I decided to do it as a webcomic. There are several reasons for that. The most important one was that there is no quality control on the internet. Anyone can post any kind of webcomic, regardless of quality. I looked at several of them, and while there is some very good stuff on the internet, the ratio of crap to quality makes Spurgeon’s Revelation seem very liberal. Most webcomics are, well, horrible stuff made by people who do it for the love, as a hobby. Quality is not an issue. I figured I’d fit right in there.

Sure, I could have the comic printed on paper, but there were several unsurmountable obstacles. The first obstacle is that printing the comic would cost money. I was not inclined to waste money on something that would never earn back the investment. Also, there are no markets for that kind of stuff where I am. I’m in Germany, all the cons for anglophone comics are in Britain and the US. If I printed up the comics, the only way to sell them would be by spending even more money to travel to all those cons and hand-sell them. Then there was the final obstacle on the road to monetizing Operation Burning Bridges: I couldn’t (still can’t) in good conscience ask anyone to pay money for, well click on the links at the right-hand side of the screen and you’ll see. On the web, I could offer it up for free, because there would be no expense involved on my side that I would have to recoup. Except for some paper and pencils.

When I decided to draw the strip myself, I settled on a working title. Not for the strip, but for the project. I called it Operation Burning Bridges. From what I had observed in regards to comics editors, I had concluded that if I write and draw the strip myself, even if I got some editors to look at it, they would all be so appalled by the horrible art that none of them would even consider the writing.

In case you wonder why I so freely slag comics artists and editors, the answer is simple: I don’t expect to do any more comics work anyway, so why shouldn’t I? Operation Burning Bridges, you know. I called it that because I figured that it would completely destroy every last shred of hope I might have held of having a career as a comics writer. I fully expected that this project would burn all the bridges to that goal.

So I sat down with my script and started to draw. The result was even worse than I had feared. I not only had any drawing skill, I clearly didn’t have the patience or the talent to do it right. But I was still fueled by anger, so I shifted gears: if I’m too incompetent to draw an adventure strip, I could try a humor strip.

Now, I mentioned before that I am not a funny person. That made it two strikes against this strip: I can’t draw, and it would be a most likely unfunny humor strip. Operation Burning Bridges would completely play to all my weaknesses and none of the things that I consider my strengths. It would be completely made of fail.

And with that, I had my title. I checked if there were any other comics out there with that title. I came up empty. Made of Fail as a comics title was all mine. (Much later, I discovered that there’s a podcast that uses the title.)

When I sat down to draw the first strip, I still attempted something a bit realistic. It didn’t work. So I made it somewhat more cartoony. Don’t let any cartoonists tell you that drawing cartoony is harder than drawing realistic. If it were, I wouldn’t draw cartoony. By the fourth strip, I was hitting my stride. And there were some feelings of accomplishment along the way. You can’t imagine how I felt when I figured out how to draw mouths, for example.

After discussing it with some people, I settled on a routine of three updates per week. That was doable. I needed one evening, two hours, to draw one strip. I produced some in advance, in case anything unforseeable would happen, and after I had 15 or so I started to post them online.

One thing about Made of Fail was that it was based on real life. Each of the four main characters is based on one or more real people whom I know both online and in real life. Most of the situations really happened, or were inspired by something I observed or read about in the newspaper.

After a couple of weeks, my progress slowed. Suddenly, I needed more than just two hours to draw one strip. I never understood why. Practice should have made me faster, right? Someone suggested that I might have, instead, started to demand more of myself. It didn’t look like it to me. Eventually, I fell behind. Also, the readership was declining. Made of Fail had started out with over 200 readers. That had blown my mind. I had not expected nearly that many. After a few months, there were about 20 left. As the work grew harder and required more of my time, I began to question if it was worth my time. Not only that, I was running out of steam. The anger that had made me set out along this road had faded away. Also, I wanted to get back to novel writing, and I definitely didn’t have the time to do both. So I quit just two strips short of 50. I had wanted to reach 50 stripe, but I ran out of ideas and I had no slack left to take my time to think of something.

That last strip of what I came to call Season 1 was me keeping a backdoor open for the (in my opinion) unlikely case I might want to return to Made of Fail.

Now, about a year after my initial run, I find myself in a situation where yes, there will be a Season 2 of Made of Fail. So far, I’ve scripted 16 strips. I’ve started drawing. I’ll start posting them sometime late May. At a slower pace than I did before, only two updates per week instead of three. But Craig and the gang will be back.

So. Now you know the full truth behind Made of Fail. How it came to be. Why I called it that.

11. April 2010

Review: Star Crash

Filed under: movies,review — jensaltmann @ 16:52
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Italy, 1979. Directed by Lewis Coates. Starring Caroline Munroe, Marjoe Gortner, David Hasselhoff, Christopher Plummer. Runtime: ca. 90 minutes

The benign Emperor of the galaxy (Christopher Plummer) hires the space smugglers Stella Star (Caroline Munroe) and Acton (Marjoe Gortner) to find and destroy the mega-space-weapon of the evil Count Zarth Arn (Joe Spinell), and to rescue the emperor’s son (David Hasselhoff). Stella and Acton succeed at their mission, but that is the problem: because the Doom Machine was just a trap for the Emperor — who walked right into it. The only way to wrest victory out of the hands of defeat is — the Star Crash.

Before I say anything about this movie, I want you to watch the trailer.

Done? You’ve seen that this trailer shows off the three reasons to see the movie: Caroline Munro in a space bikini, the awesome John Barry score, and some of the craziest set designs in the history of sci-fi.

I mean, really: a space fortress that looks like a hand, and clenches into a fist when it enters battle formation? Not to mention the space city at the end of the movie.

Star Crash was one of those sci-fi-movies that tried to cash in on the sci-fi craze of the late 1970s, which had been triggered by Star Wars. In fact, it copies quite a bit from Star Wars: the planet-sized megaweapon, the adventurous and heroic space smugglers, lightsaber battles, droids, a major war between the forces of good and evil…  (However, if anyone wants to make a case that Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones borrows quite a bit from Star Crash in return — who am I do tell you wrong? ;))

The acting ranges from horrible to phoned-in. Munro and Gortner don’t even really try to act (I’ve seen better performances from both in other movies), but rather ham it up to the max — but that with a wonderful and hilarious energy. Christopher Plummer phones it in to an extent where the viewer wonders just what blackmail materials the producers had on him to make him play in this movie. Joe Spinell as Count Zarth Arn embodies every cliché of the evil supervillain that he could find, which happens to make him the acting highlight of Star Crash. And please find a moment to feel sad for David Hasselhoff, who seemed to actually take his role as Prince Simon seriously enough to make an actual effort at acting. He’s the only one in the movie who does.

Star Crash pays homage to a great lot of movies beyond just being an apparent Star Wars parody. The giant amazon statue is very reminiscent of the work of SFX-legend Ray Harryhausen, and probably gave Ms. Munro a few Sindbad flashbacks, although the inspiration was probably taken from Jason and the Argonauts. The costumes appear to be hand-me-downs from the 1930s and 1940s Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers serials.

The special effects are laughable, as you know if you watched the trailer when I told you to. The lightbulb space vista, the lava lamp monster generator, the spaceship battles… I’ll happily admit, however, that the director and the producers put a lot of love into this movie. Sadly, they did it ineptly. But the love shines through.

The worst thing is the writing. I’m inclined to say that the cast are better actors than they seem since they can say their lines without cringeing. Then again, the cast includes accomplished screen presences like Christopher Plummer and Joe Spinell, so you can consider that a given. The writers knew nothing about science (“The temperature drops thousands of degrees.” — That would be way below absolute zero.) (And let’s not forget the troop transport torpedos that crash through the count’s space fortress’s window without causing explosive decompression,), halfway into the story, Acton morphs first into a deus-ex-machina on two feet and then into Exposition Man.

And nothing, absolutely nothing, beats Christopher Plummer’s line: “Imperial battleship… Stop the flow of time!”

So… Should you see this movie, or will it destroy your brain? The latter, probably, but that is exactly its attraction. Star Crash is Trash of the highest order. It is a somewhat ambitious but incredibly awful waste of celluloid. And yet, you won’t be able to stop watching. It is so bad, so utterly horrible, that it becomes — fun.

I can not in good conscience recommend this movie to anyone, but at the same time, I can’t warn you away from it. Just let me remind you of the main reason to watch it:

4. April 2010

Review: Doctor Who – 11th Hour

Filed under: general — jensaltmann @ 15:46
Tags: , , , , , , ,

The 5th season of Doctor Who just premiered, with Matt Smith as the 11th Doctor and Karen Gillan as Amy Pond, his new companion.

The TARDIS crashlands in the garden of young Amelia, who invites the still regenerating Doctor into her house because, well, for one thing she’s weird that way. There’s also this strange crack in her wall. It turns out that that crack is not in the wall, but in spacetime, and something called Prisoner Zero escaped through it into our world. The Doctor has to fix the TARDIS before he can do anything else. He promises Amelia that he’ll be back in five minutes, then takes off.

12 years later (yes, he still has those problems steering), the situation hasn’t much improved. Prisoner Zero is still at large, and the Atraxi, his jailors, are coming to get him. If they don’t find him, they will incinerate the entire planet. The Doctor has 20 minutes left to save the world. And he has to do with without the still regenerating TARDIS and without his sonic screwdriver.

In a way, Smith’s first entry as the Doctor is very reminiscent of Tennant’s: the Doctor is still busy regenerating (although 11 has an easier time of it than 10), and he already has to save Earth from an alien armada. While it might seem a bit less imaginative on the surface, the similarities of the premise work nicely to spotlight the differences between Tennant’s and Smith’s Doctors.

Smith approaches the Doctor with the same manic energy that Tennant brought to the part, but combines it with Ecclestone’s dangerous edge. There are also some new aspects to this Doctor, uniquely Smith’s, that I’m curious to see developed in the coming episodes. Such as the way he uses his senses, and the way that the mania that both Ecclestone and Tennant had seems to occasionally tilt over into madness. As the Doctor himself says, “I’m just a madman with a box.”

“Hello. I’m the Doctor. Basically… Run.”

The Eleventh Hour has several good lines, the above is my favorite, mostly due to Matt Smith’s delivery.

I came to Doctor Who with the relaunch. I watched and enjoyed the entire Ecclestone season, but dropped out a few episodes into Tennant’s tenure. It just didn’t work for me. Matt Smith as the Doctor, at least on first impression, works very well for me.

I’m less sure about Amy Pond, the new companion. At first glance, it appears that the writers are trying to create someone who represents two of the most popular NuWho (as the relaunch is frequently called) companions: Rose Tyler and Donna Noble. She’s strong-willed and independent, takes the weird in stride, but apparently a bit crazy and not too bright. Unlike the previous companions, Amy (because of the haphazard nature of their first encounters) seems to have harbored a lifelong fixation on the Doctor. We’ll see how that plays out, and whether or not Amy can become her own character.

The TARDIS redesign is, for me as a German, something of a blast from the past. The new console uses many many househould utensils for props, just like the German sci-fi show Raumpatrouille did in 1965. It looks sillier than Tennant’s TARDIS, but in a somewhat steampunky way. It works, that’s all that matters.

I’ll be back next week. As should you, even if you (like I) didn’t enjoy David Tennant as the Doctor.

Verdict: recommended

1. April 2010

Review: Clash of the Titans 2010

Filed under: Commentary,movies — jensaltmann @ 17:22
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USA 2010. Directed by Louis Leterrier. Starring Sam Worthington, Gemma Atherton, Mads Mikkelsen, Ralph Fiennes, Liam Neeson. Runtime 118 Minutes

Perseus (Sam Worthington) is the son of Zeus (Liam Neeson) and a mortal woman. When Hades (Ralph Fiennes) kills his adoptive family, the shipwrecked Perseus is taken to Argos. There, Hades uses an arrogant statement from the queen to demand a sacrifice: Sacrifice the princess Andromeda, or the gods will unleash the titan Kraken to destroy the entire kingdom. Perseus and a group of soldiers, accompanied by the mysterious Io (Gemma Atherton), set out to find a way to kill the Kraken and save the kingdom. But the Kraken is just one tiny part of Hades’s real plan, which in reality seeks the destruction of his brother Zeus.

First things first, because everyone is talking about it: if you are undecided if you should see this movie in 3D or 2D, choose 2D. The movie was originally shot in 2D and later converted. It shows. The 3D look terrible and sloppy, sometimes resulting in unintentionally (at least one should hope so) bizarre effects like the distortion of Hades’s head.

If you are undecided whether or not to watch this movie at all, don’t bother. Wait until some other, better movie comes along. Because this remake of Clash of the Titans is a complete waste of 2 hours.

Leterrier has the action beats down, and his CGI mostly look good. But thatb doesn’t hide the fact that this emperor has no clothes. Several of the ideas in this movie simply don’t work, however, such as the giant scorpions. While Leterrier admittedly borrowed those from the original, it’s not clear why he thought that making them even bigger, big enough for the characters to set up tents on them and ride on them, was a good idea: it reduces something that should be a threat to something ridiculous. The movie’s atmosphere and visuals cold and borderline sterile. There is a lot of action, but it’s not engaging. The various inside gags that refer to the original only served to make this particular member of the audience nostalgic for the original.

Clash of the Titans 2010 hints at a bit of depth with its idea of the humans waging war against the gods, because they are tired of (pardon the Legion reference) all the bullshit. There are characters who might have been created to provide some commentary on the modern world, in regards to how much of a role religion and gods does and/or should play in our lives. Sadly, those hints are quickly drowned out in favor of stereotypes and, well, mass destruction.

The other problem is that this remake completely misses the point of the original. In the 1981 Clash of the Titans, the characters did what they did out of love and/or loyalty. Perseus went on his quest because he loved Andromeda. Andromeda was about to sacrifice herself for Joppe out of love for her people. The soldiers joined Perseus for the same reason. Zeus, who had to act against his own wishes, manipulated events so that, in the end, love would win out.

In the 2010 Clash of the Titans, the characters act out of arrogance, for fear, hatred and revenge. Perseus wants revenge for his adoptive family. Hades wants revenge for having been tricked into ruling the underworld. The royal family of Argos hates the gods. The people fear the revenge of the gods. And so on. The actions of almost all the characters are fueled by negativity.

The only exception to that is Liam Neeson’s Zeus. In this remake, the gods of Olympus gain their strength from the love and the prayers of the humans. Hades, whose powers are strengthened by hatred and fear, manipulates Zeus into scaring the humans, thereby weakening Zeus while strengthening Hades. In Clash 2010, love is what almost destroys Zeus, love is the fatal flaw, the weak spot, while only hate wins out. What? But doesn’t Hades lose in the end? Yes, because Perseus hates Hades so much that he finds the strength to overcome the Lord of the Underworld.

If movies reflect their times, then remakes reflect on how the audiences see the world around them. In 1981’s Clash, love saved the day. In 2010’s Clash, hate does the same. If that reflects the changed times, then I know I, for one, don’t like what we have become.

Since this is a remake, I would be remiss if I left out a look at the cast.

I like Sam Worthington better than Harry Hamlin. Worthington plays Perseus as a simple man, as opposed to Hamlin’s princely Perseus. The original’s only flaw was also that there was no chemistry between Hamlin and Judi Bowker, which made their romance feel off.

Liam Neeson is no Laurence Olivier, and it shows, but it would still be unfair to compare their two Zeus. Because the two characters are completely different. I feel comfortable in saying, however, that Olivier’s Zeus would never have fallen for Hades’s manipulations. In Neeson’s favor, however, I need to say that he seems to make more of an effort than Olivier did.

Gemma Atherton as Io is the hardest to evaluate, because her role is essentially a mix of Judi Bowker’s Andromeda and the robotic owl Bubo. Now, Bubo’s cameo in the 2010 Clash is actually the movie’s high point, so I’d rather not compare them. It would be unfair, because Bubo is a much more charming character than the traditionally inscrutable Io.

Calibos was, in the original, the first Harryhausen monster with a speaking role. Here, it was Jason Flemyng in monster makeup. Flemyng did his best, but the stop-motion creature from the original was a far more pathetic creature for which the audience could actually feel sorry. At least a little bit.

Sadly, all the charming, wise and lovable characters from the original have either been completely removed from the remake, or been replaced by stock tough guy characters.

Save your money on the remake and watch the original instead.

Verdict: not recommended.

Trailer 1: the 1981 version

Trailer 2: the 2010 version

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