I have to admit I’ve never been a huge fan of the original 1981 version of Clash of the Titans. Even as a child I thought the acting, sets, and effects were cheesy and lame (and not in a so-bad-it’s-good way). As I got older and had more of an appreciation for Ray Harryhausen and his work in stop-motion animation, I still found Clash of the Titans to be lacklustre at best. I recently revisited it on Blu-ray and boy am I glad I did because it makes the new rendition look a hundred times better in all categories.
Clash of the Titans tells the story of Perseus (Sam Worthington), the demigod son of Zeus (Liam Neeson), after he is thrown into battle to save the city of Argos from the wrath of the Kraken — a giant sea creature the gods are going to unleash to teach mankind a lesson for losing faith in them. To find the answer of defeating the Kraken, Perseus, a fisherman by trade who has never carried a sword let alone used one, must visit three evil witches in the woods. This leads him and his team of soldiers on an adventure full of monsters and mythical creatures and eventually to the Kraken.
Worthington hit it big last year playing the tough guy who saves the day in the blockbusters Terminator Salvation and Avatar. He continues down this path in Clash of the Titans, where he not only battles the Kraken but also Medusa (Natalia Vodianova), Hades (Ralph Fiennes), and a legion of giant scorpions. While scenes of dialogue with him are fairly weak, the action makes up for it, and really, that’s what I went to see and it delivered. The other cast members handled their roles just fine, with Neeson’s Zeus being far superior to Laurence Olivier’s in the original. However, I was distracted by Fiennes’s Hades who looked like a goofy cross between Nicolas Cage and Bobcat Goldthwait. Maybe it was the make-up, but for being the main bad guy he was more laughable than fear-inducing.
Director Louis Leterrier knows how to handle a big action movie and give the audience a fun time at the theatre. His last venture was The Incredible Hulk (2008) and before that he helmed Jason Statham’s adrenaline-fueled Transporter 2 (2005). His vision of Clash of the Titans was spot-on with how I would have gone about it, and although you can tell he’s a fan of the original, he has stripped all the pointless filler and made a solid version that will stand the test of time much better than its predecessor. He even threw in a treat for purists of the 1981 version with a great cameo of Bubo, the annoying tin owl that was the equivalent of Jar-Jar Binks from Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.
The one downfall of Clash of the Titans is that Warner Bros. is trying to cash in on the 3-D gimmick with it when in reality it was shot as a 2-D film. Not as bad as Alice in Wonderland, where I felt scenes were blurry and confusing, but Clash of the Titans just didn’t look like anything was actually in 3-D. Go see it in a regular theatre and enjoy it for what it is — an action-packed joyride.
**** out of 5 stars
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Top image: A scene from Clash of the Titans. Courtesy Warner Bros.