The Way of the Word

1. April 2010

Review: Clash of the Titans 2010

Filed under: Commentary,movies — jensaltmann @ 17:22
Tags: , , , , , , ,

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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