In the age when movie studios pan the comic book/graphic novel genre and cult classic TV shows for blockbuster gold in the hopes of lightening striking twice, it was probably inevitable that the vintage ‘80’s stop-motion animation rich film “Clash of the Titans” would get today’s Hollywood treatment.
When I saw the original “Clash of Titans” back in 1981, I left the theater as an awe-struck 8-year-old with a new appreciation (maybe obsession) for Greek mythology. For its time, “Clash of the Titans” pandered to every little boys fantastical imagination of saving princesses by fighting off monsters with swords and shields, helmets of invisibility and of course, robotic owls.
The Warner Bros. remake brings that same magic (and probable merchandising campaign) to today’s pre-pubescent, testosterone filled wanna-be heroes-for-hire with a new millennium American attitude.
Screenwriters of both films took several liberties with the source material, (a common practice when adapting novels to motion pictures) so many literary scholars may not appreciate the Hollywood interpretation of the myth of Perseus. But to keep this in perspective, this is not a historical biopic.
In this account, the hero Perseus (“Avatar’s” Sam Worthington) is the unknowing love child of Zeus (Liam Neeson from “Darkman”), the king of the gods who has been an absentee father in Perseus’ life. Shortly after his birth, his mother’s husband King Acrisius (Jason Flemyng - “City of Life”) casts mother and son into the sea where they are found by a fisherman who eventually marries Perseus’ mother and raises the boy like his own. Twelve years later, Perseus witnesses the death of the only family he’s ever known by his fraternal uncle, Hades the god of the underworld (Ralph Fiennes of the “Harry Potter” franchise).
Thus begins the contemporary version of a hero’s journey as Perseus sets out to avenge his family’s deaths at the same time rescuing the distressing damsel. Throughout his trek, he encounters dreadful and deadly beasts which are literally the sort that legends are made of.
COTT is a greek myth bastardized into an archetypical superhero movie thanks to director Louis Leterrier who helmed the reboot of Marvel Comics’ “The Incredible Hulk.” Comic book movie fans can look to this as silver screen spring training for this next month’s “Iron Man 2.”
The original COTT has weathered the ages pretty well despite having special effects that at the time of its release were awesome, but are now light years behind what animators are capable of creating onscreen today. The plot is well, classic Greek mythology and good story telling doesn’t get much better than that. Special effects on the other hand rule the day in this adaptation. The monsters of the original are now bigger, faster and badder. The Greek gods on Mt. Olympus are larger than life thanks to spectacular CGI visual effects. Surprisingly though, the addition of 3-D effects that pushed COTT’s release back by a week didn’t really lend any additional “wow” factor to the movies already lavish backgrounds and settings. In fact, with the furious pacing and extremely close camera angles in some action scenes, the 3-D effects are at best distracting.
Greek mythology will always make great Hollywood fodder because the legends are ripe with drama, action, romance and legendary monsters. But as technologies improve, studios will begin to reduce the tall tales that once captivated and inspired our imaginations when we actually had to (god-forbid) read them to 90 minute high-definition, 3-D enhanced assaults on our senses. While “Clash of the Titans” may be fun for a very specific target audience those made of snips of snails and puppy dog tails - very few X chromosome bearing viewers over the age of 16 who aren’t into the latest computer generated theatrical bells and whistles will find this movie very entertaining.
A Greek classic is just that, a classic. The first “Clash of the Titans” defied the odds and became a cult classic. Remaking that film is a classic example of not knowing when to quit while you’re ahead.