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Overall Rating

Awesome: 4.08%
Worth A Look: 4.08%
Average: 28.57%
Pretty Bad: 6.12%
Total Crap57.14%

4 reviews, 25 user ratings

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Clash of the Titans (2010)
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by Erik Childress

"As Remembered By Karl Pilkington"
1 stars

For guys around my age, there are a select group of fantasy adventure sci-fi films that rank amongst our childhood favorites. They include, but are not exclusive to 1980's Flash Gordon, Dragonslayer and The Last Starfighter. It's impossible to forget the weekend night in 1981 at the old Elk Grove Cinema when I saw Clash of the Titans with a friend and his dad. Cool and scary all at the same time, my six year-old eyes ate up the images of flying horses, giant scorpions and, yes, even a mechanical owl named Bubo. In preparation for the big budget remake on hand for audiences, I sat down for the first time in seemingly decades with the original. And I must say that even with the added flourish of blu-ray technology it doesn't hold up to that original memory. Sure the marvel of the Ray Harryhausen set pieces are as wondrous as ever and the last half-hour is especially fantastic, the movie as a whole is a little bit of a slog with some lackluster acting to boot. But if I didn't judge Mark Hamill as a kid, why should I come down on Harry Hamlin? So despite my misgivings about updating a classic of the mind, I went into Warner Bros. CGI redux ready for acceptance as long as its big moments were on par with some respect to the original. Soon during the 2010 version I was reminded that movies are still a whole and this one was like watching Karl Pilkington's recollection of the Greek mythology he learned while seeing 1981's Clash.

Set in the days when the struggles between men and the Gods were reaching a fever pitch, a young Perseus was cast adrift into the sea with his mother and rescued by a passing fisherman (Pete Postlethwaite). Meanwhile upstairs, all-powerful Zeus (Liam Neeson, decked out in his Excalibur armor) is growing restless with the lack of love, the life source of the Gods, being flung his way. Brother Hades (Ralph Fiennes) suggests a plan of releasing the terrifying sea monster known as the Kraken on the city of Argos, leading to the necessary prayers that will garner them strength again. Zeus has seemingly forgot that his bro's life source is fear and he might have alternative motives, but never mind. When Hades makes a rampage on a group of defiant soldiers tearing down Zeus' statue, he makes sure there are no witnesses either and kills Perseus' father in the process. Just his Earth father though.

Perseus (Sam Worthington) is brought into Argos where the royalty makes no bones about denouncing the Gods. Hades makes another appearance to announce intentions to destroy the city in ten days unless the princess Andromeda (Alexa Davelos) is sacrificed to the Kraken. A task force is thus dispatched to seek out the three witches who might offer them a way to defeat the monster. Perseus discovers he is in fact a demigod, spawned by Zeus himself, and thus provided some gifts along his journey. Gone are the special shield and helmet of invisibility, but in their place are a sword that packs itself away like a lightsaber and the beautiful Io (Gemma Arterton), an ageless exposition machine. Along their journey they will encounter flying horses, giant scorpions and, in the film's one wink-wink moment, the chance to leave behind Bubo (apparently now the '81 version of Jar Jar Binks). There's also the Kraken, Medusa and the deformed Calibos (Jason Flemyng) who has his own grudge against Perseus.

Laying it all out like that you might expect the new Clash and its truncated running time of just over 100 minutes to be a non-stop, slam-bang fest of creatures and ripping adventure. But you would not be more mis-informed. Thanks to an ill-structured and almost random screenplay (by Travis Beacham & Aeon Flux scribes Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi), scenes and characters appear as if they were just the next hit on the writers' dartboard. Everyone's idea to avoid the trappings of making an A-B-C remake is to merely juxtapose the "B" with the "A" while further burying any intent to bring this Clash closer to its true mythological roots. The big scorpions now come before the Medusa battle, created not by her blood but by that of Calibos. Why? Cause its different, I suppose. Calibos, who has more in common with The Tempest's Caliban than any creature in Greek mythology, may have been a fabrication but was nevertheless a most memorable villain and perhaps even the most interesting character from the original. Sticking with him is not out of line. Melding his character with that of the King whose wife was given the Zeus treatment in bed is senseless unless you are going to seriously explore the divide between man and his makers.

Seriously exploring anything is out of the realm of Louis Leterrier's filmmaking sensibilities though. The nature of man's frustrations to question the randomness of the Gods' actions is, not so ironically, what we are doing in examining the motives behind this remake. The opportunity is there for a full-scale epic along the lines of Lord of the Rings. An Odyssey of Homeric proportions with backstories for Medusa, Zeus and Hades as the only son of up on high must embrace his destiny and bridge the divide between the people and the statues they are seen to be on Mount Olympus. Not in the budget? OK then just get a director-for-hire like Leterrier with no particular style as Universal did in The Incredible Hulk, which if successful at anything brought some people around to realizing Ang Lee's version was a lot better than they remembered.

Blanketing it as merely a matinee popcorn fantasy in the spirit of the original is not without merit either. But it better damn well be fun. Not boring, not merely tolerable and either matching or improving upon the best bits of the original beyond just exposing them to modern day effects. The scorpion set piece lacks the appropriate scope and becomes just a variation on the giant bugs from Starship Troopers and the giant spider in Return of the King. The Medusa sequence trades the mood and horror from 1981 for quick cuts, a giant chase and a pitiful, applause-muting payoff that makes the Scorpion King finale from The Mummy Returns seem positively seat-wetting. Even the one improvement over the original in holding back the Kraken's appearance until the end, the effects designers have stuck with the mythological asthetic of its squid-like nature (adhered to wonderfully in the Pirates sequel, Dead Man's Chest.) But when it finally rears its ugly head you are either prone to wonder what the Cloverfield monster is doing there or hearing C3-PO go "oh no, the RANCOR!"

So its not exactly faithful and the action scenes are below par, surely the cast helps make up for it, right? You do remember that Sam Worthington is playing Perseus, right? You might forget by the time the quest begins at the half-hour mark as its entirely possible one is witnessing him fall asleep before your very eyes, finally awakened at the offer of wine by a gorgeous princess. Considering his biggest roles to date have been that of a robot in Terminator Salvation and aided with James Cameron's new specialized acting cameras in Avatar, Worthington might be the leading man flavor of the moment but his inability to carry a film in his own flesh should end this experiment before it gets anymore lethargic. He is provided equal support (aka none) by his fellow warriors (Mads Mikkelsen, Liam Cunningham and Nicholas Hoult) each barely responding to the archetypal support staff given to a hero. Even an additional pair of goofs joining the party for the sole purpose of being the film's Merry & Pippin comic relief offer none of it. There's zero chemistry between Perseus and the ladies. One, his bride-to-be from the first film, is just Kraken bait for this go-round and Io, historically transformed into a heifer instead of an ageless beauty, exists only as a possible foil to prove that Perseus is not a unich. The least we could ask for is to drum up the Schindler's List reunion between Neeson and Fiennes playing divine versions of their real-life epitomes of good and evil. Instead we're distracted by how little any of their fellow gods are allowed to chime in (particularly Danny Huston who looks as if he just wandered onto the set as Poseidon) and when the Hades smoke monster is due back on th set of Lost.

As seen by the box office returns on Avatar, most of the world did not exactly take my problems with the film to heart. The most frequent argument was to gloss over any admitted issues one might have in the name of it being a once-in-a-lifetime experience best had on a big screen. And who is one to argue with that logic? There's a major difference though between a brand new process from a director with a vision and something regurgitated by a filmmaker going through the motions. Does the new Clash have many of the same problems as the original? Absolutely. But in its limited ambition adds more than it can chew and only accentuates its flaws. Louis Leterrier's Clash of the Titans is devoid of energy, a hero or mission worth rooting for, and most egregiously, a true sense of wonderment or fun that might spark the imagination of the new six year-olds seeing it for the first time. They already have the stupefyingly lame Percy Jackson to fulfill their mythological quota. As for the rest of us, we will always have the memory of the original.

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originally posted: 04/02/10 13:00:00
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User Comments

7/30/16 JJ Heartless and humorless remake that's no where near as memorable as the original 1 stars
1/10/12 Quigley Made for 12-year-old boys who have never seen a movie. Too stupid for adults; don't bother. 1 stars
5/15/11 stephen nettles Underrated 4 stars
5/08/11 MOJOJO Unwatchable garbage, that offended me on a personal level 1 stars
2/09/11 bored mom Even less mythologically accurate than the original. This is more like CRAP OF THE TITANS. 2 stars
12/01/10 millersxing lazy and formulaic, yet STILL an improvement upon the original 3 stars
9/23/10 Dr.Lao Not a classic (neither was the original), just good old fashioned sword-and-sandal fun. 4 stars
8/07/10 Deet Has its moments, but Worthington uncharismatic 3 stars
8/02/10 Total Crap Well, it ain't The Last Airbender. Still bad. 2 stars
7/31/10 othree Some epic scenes+efx, no heart, mech owl cameo 3 stars
7/29/10 Rodent Complete assinine nustercluck of a movie. What is don to the story is illegal in many lands 1 stars
7/04/10 puddleduck Don't bother... even the cheesy original is better than this stinker 1 stars
4/27/10 Bobofofo Ok action movie, CG obvious at times, 3 stars
4/17/10 E Laughably, outrageously horrible excrement 1 stars
4/08/10 james i like peanut butter and jam sandwiches 5 stars
4/07/10 Jez Kknow what else didn't develop till centuries later? English! So what accent's "right"? 3 stars
4/07/10 Smith Im one for story line and it doesnt follow the story correctly at all 1 stars
4/07/10 YJ Terrible movie in every way. The original had heart, a score and a plot; not this one! 1 stars
4/05/10 damalc terribly little story & development. just a bunch of pretty action scenes. 2 stars
4/05/10 KS This movie sucked!! All they had to do was improve the special effects & stick to the story 1 stars
4/03/10 gc Good popcorn movie but will be forgotten,Childress is right, original still better 3 stars
4/02/10 M DO NOT watch in 3D, watta waste! just as cheesy as the original. 3 stars
4/02/10 Darkstar Louis Letterrier is just not a good director. Movie wasn't awful, not good either. 3 stars
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  02-Apr-2010 (PG-13)
  DVD: 27-Jul-2010

  02-Apr-2010 (12A)

  01-Apr-2010 (M)
  DVD: 27-Jul-2010

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