July 29, 2010

If you grew up in the 1980’s most of the films you may have loved are likely to be remade. Raiders of the Lost Ark is safe – as it were – but if a film has a cult following or was a modest hit… Boom, remake/sequel/something time. 2010’s Clash of the Titans is a remake of the 1981 film of the same name, and this time Louis Letterier directs Sam Worthington as Perseus, the son of Zeus (Liam Neeson) who is the last line of defense for the Athenians under threat from the gods, and especially the Kraken. But to beat the Kraken, Perseus has to defend himself against giant scorpions and behead Medusa. Sounds rousing, right? My review of Clash of the Titans on Blu-ray after the jump.

I saw the original film in its first run. At the time, I was very young and the film left an impression, even though the film struggles with its tone, and like all Ray Harryhausen films, the effects are amazing even if the film is never to his level of craftsmanship. I have no real loyaty to it. I skipped the latest iterations of this theatrically, because I kept hearing how crappy the 3-D was. And for the home video release there is no 3-D version included, which is not surprising. The film was – very late in the game – post-converted into 3-D. Watching the film it seems obvious why: cash grab. The remake is terrible.

Not so much a movie as a “greatest hits” collection of moments from the first film, the remake covers the same ground. Perseus (Worthington) is the son of Zeus (Neeson) and as the film begins he comes to see how evil Hades (Ralph Fiennes) can be when he attacks humans attacking a statue. The humans are getting annoyed with the gods, so Hades threatens to put them in their place with the Kraken. Zeus agrees until he doesn’t, and Perseus – finding out that he’s the son of a God – starts fighting for what’s right with a team of men, who are told to find the Stygian witches. Hades then sends Calibos (Jason Flemyng) on Perseus’s trail and though Calibos is defeated and hurt, his blood creates giant scorpions. Perseus finds out from the witches that the only way to defeat the Kraken is using the head of a medusa, so they go do that.

There’s the God’s world – which  comes across as cut to shit as Danny Huston has about one line as Poseidon – and the assembling the team aspects of the film – which also seems cut to shit as the team has very little personality – and the original film – which seems, well, yeah. There might have been a reasonably entertaining film in there if they decided which movie to make, but part of the film seems to think that sacrificial lamb Andromeda (Alexa Davalos) should be a love interest, and then it makes Io (Gemma Arterton) the love interest, except that Worthington never seems to develop chemistry with either, or much of a character, period. Zeus seems intended to be a bad guy, but then he helps his son and has a face to face chat with him at the end.

I can imagine with the 3-D thrown on top of this it was even worse. But at home it’s just a number of CGI-action set pieces that never come to life. There’s something so mechanical about everything going on, perhaps because it’s covering the bases of the original. Mads Mikkelsen was terrific in Casino Royale. Here he just looks distinctive. This doesn’t feel like a real movie, so calling it bad seems unfair. I just don’t think of it as more than a collection of scenes without purpose or interest.

Warner Brother’s Bu-ray is pretty gorgeous and the film is presented in a perfect widescreen (2.35:1) and in DTS-HD 5.1 surround. The Blu-ray version also comes with a DVD/digital copy. Like most A titled Warner Brothers releases, this comes with a “Maximum Movie Mode” commentary track that offers interviews with the cast and crew, and there’s also branching to the “Focus Points” which can also be watched all together (36 min.). Though the cast gets love, this is an effects heavy movie, so there’s more focus on how shit got done. Worthington was coming off of Avatar, so there’s a lot of love thrown his way in “Sam Worthington: An Action Hero for the Ages” (8 min.). More telling of the obvious production troubles is the alternate ending (5 min.) and the deleted scenes (18 min.) that would have given more structure and life to the film.

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