My notes on Clash of the Titans.Strangely, this actually is a remake of Clash of the Titans (1981). Strangely, because few at the time thought much of the original – a final work from the team of producer Charles H. Schneer and animator Ray Harryhausen, which tried to compete with the Lucas-Spielberg-type films that were supplanting the likes of Jason and the Argonauts at the box office (witness the horrible R2D2-like mechanical owl) and came across as a rehash of past glories. Given that the story is eternally valid, it would have seemed simpler to come up with a fresh take on Perseus and Medusa – as Percy Jackson and the Lighting Thief did a few months ago – rather than rework a hash of a script which tipped giant scorpions and the Norse Kraken into Greek mythology for no real purpose. Even the title, which 1982 critics felt made it all sound like a Steve Reeves movie, hasn’t got enough resonance to be worth sticking on a film which features clashes a-plenty but barely acknowledges the Titans. That said, this effects-driven spectacle from Louis Leterrier (Transporter 2, The Incredible Hulk) is entertaining enough as schlock and offers an impressive parade of monsters: giant scorpions that spring from the spilled blood of Calibos (Jason Flemyng), flapping evil bat demons that coalesce into a hunchbacked Hades (Ralph Fiennes), a snake-bodied supermodel-look Medusa, mummy-faced djinni with glowing blue exploding hearts (one – in a slightly dodgy bit – becomes a suicide bomber), and a truly vast last-reel Kraken. Plus the three witches who share an eye and Pegasus. The owl gets a look-in, and is dismissed with a funny line.
Sam Worthington, who is becoming a fixture in big fantasy films without really developing much of a character, is a muscular Perseus, with demigod superpowers that go against his training as a fisherman with Ma and Pa Kent-like foster parents who get creamed quickly after imparting humane values (Pete Postlethwaite, Elizabeth McGovern – twenty-five years ago, you’d never have seen them coming as a screen couple) who resists the godly gadgets (super-sword, flying horse) pushed on him by deadbeat Dad Zeus (Liam Neeson). Andromeda (Alexa Davalos), a socially conscious princess, is a plot token, which means that Gemma Arterton gets to be the leading lady as Io, an immortal who weirdly gets to fulfill the plot function of the bloody clockwork owl (and Burgess Meredith) by giving Perseus helpful information as he traipses from one set-piece to the next. Like many a Harryhausen hero, Perseus has a gang of loyal followers – Mads Mikkelsen, Liam Cunningham, Hans Matheson – who get good set-up scenes, but tend to be killed off out of hand so the hero can be all the more heroic facing up to perils. The squabbles of the Gods are less impressive than the ones in Percy Jackson, and a few of the divinities (Danny Huston) must have DVD extra scenes coming since they have nothing to do in this version of the film. It may be that the best thing about it is the full-on orchestral score by Ramin Djawadi, that fills in all the matinee excitement, wonder and romance the film might otherwise be too busy to include. It’s often said that it makes more sense to remake bad or mediocre films than good ones, because there’s room for improvement – the original Clash has great leads (Harry Hamlin manages to be manly and girly in a proper Greek way which is beyond what Worthington can do, and I’d still willingly see an entire city destroyed than let Judi Bowker get eaten by a monster) and one wonderful scene (the Medusa encounter) but is otherwise makeshift (it even, unthinkably, has some duff effects), and this is generally a better-paced, more entertaining popcorn picture. It’s no deeper, of course – but it doesn’t really want to be.
Tom James But for a child of the eighties (Im 45 now)the original was fantastic boys own adventure and like others we still remember it fondly warts and all. Th new one although entertaining is like a copy of an mildly entertaining book that will be discarded and forgotten once read.The score to the new movie is mediocre from the Hans Zimmer production stable compared to the original heroic one by Lawrence Rosenthal…..very poor. Agree about the bloody owl though….was an annoying add on but it did have its heroic moment….
David Flint Not all us children of the 80’s liked the original. I was bored silly by the film when I first saw it in 81. As Kim says, it has some awful effects, that stupid owl was annoying, and it was too long and ponderous. Even Judi Bowker’s bum couldn’t save it. Doubt I’ll be bothering with this version either.
JR Pinto I have fond memories of the original. I just re-watched it and it is a very flawed film. It was still fun however. The remake is not fun – it’s actually boring. Unlike the original, it has no imagination. This was a big missed opportunity.
Neil Williams I think they should have gone back to the original Perseus mythology instread of a CotT remake. Worthington just doen’t have the Greek hero (classical) look that Hamlin had.
I’m due to see this on Wednesday, so I’ll reserve further judgement until then.
Tom James Agreed to all except to say that the originals effects where awful is totally misguided. Ray Harryhausens effects awful!!!
The man is a Titan himself and is his legacy still remains when you look at some of CGI creatures you see in cinema today
l agree the original is flawed…but why is it we still remember by children of a certain generation nearly thirty years later and Hollywood decides that it a remake. L agree with the DARK HORIZONS review that says it was a missed opportunity.
Tom James ….Judy Bowkers ass was a bonus…..lol
Dave Baldwin I’d rather rewatch Hawk the Slayer than the original – does this mean a remake of Deathstalker is somewhere round the corner?
Tom James Hawk the slayer….now there is a classic…….lol
David Flint But would a Deathstalker remake have a CGI Barbi Benton?
Stone Franks “I was like you once. Blonde hair. Scraggly little beard. Childlike ears. Full of beans, and spunk. I let my principles get in the way of things. I punched a bloke in the face once for saying Hawk the Slayer was rubbish.”
What´s that from? 🙂
Tom James ….go on…
Dave Baldwin aaah Spaced – see the internet IS a reference system
Dave Baldwin Maybe an evening of Silent Running, Dark Star, Hawk the Slayer, Krull and the Beastmaster is necessary. End the night with those ferrets
Stone Franks As someone who is 80s-obsessed, the original Clash of the Titans is a classic. Its not really fair to call it a rehash as most mythological stories that survive today are themselves rehashes of things with multiple versions in prehistoric times and euhemeristic origins. That said I am looking forward to the remake.
Dave Baldwin You really need to sit through Condorman to appreciate the 80s
Tom James ….so was l Stone Franks…so was l.
Dave….that sounds like one hell of an evening…finishing off with a reenactment of all the movies in the back yard with sticks for swords…45….no way lm 15 again….
Stone Franks Condorman is awesome!
Steve Bray I did, in a cinema, and I loved it at the time. Now where did I leave my zimmer frame…?
Stone Franks Is Condorman on DVD yet? I´ve looked a few times and havent seen it. Its right up there with One Of Our Dinosaurs Is Missing in the obscure Disney live actioners.
Dave Baldwin Me too. But for every Company of Wolves, there was a Xanadu and for every Time Bandits or Zu Warriors, a Masters of the Universe
Kim Newman A sequel to Hawk the Slayer is in the works.
Stone Franks Sweet. We´re playing the porn cinema game on my profile if anyone is feeling associative.
Barry Poulton There’s going to be a sequel to HtS? Kim, you’ve made my week. Cheers.
Tom James …alas no Jack Palance or Bernard Bresslaw
Dave Baldwin Perhaps it’s time to join the Hawk the Hunter Facebook group – I just did!
Tom James ……here l go…..
Barry Poulton And so shall I, posthaste.
Stephen Bissette Agreed with your review, Kim, though I thought it a better film than you did. You’re quite right about Ramin Djawadi’s ace music; it’s indeed a lush score!
Michael Koller Is it true Peter Jackson loves the original Clash of the Titans?
Chris Cooke I went with a mate’s son – and we bot really enjoyed it. There you go Dave lint – I liked a remake – in fact – I prefer this remake to the original… except that I prefer the original’s effects (at least the medusa scene – though i fancied this medusa)… anyway – this had a great desert scene too, where the effects were out in the open…
Barry Hodge First film I’ve slept through in twenty years, almost!
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