“Clash of the Titans”
Directed by Louis Leterrier
Starring: Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson
Run Time: 106 minutes
Genre: Action, Fantasy
Greek mythology is making a comeback on the big screen, first in “The Lightning Thief” and now in “Clash of the Titans.”
The recently released “Clash of the Titans” takes a cheesy cult classic from the 80’s and transforms it into a better film. The bare-bones structure of the story is the same as the original. Perseus (Sam Worthington, “Avatar”) is still on a mission to save Argos, the town that dared to defy the gods, from a horrible fate. There are still fights with monsters and damsels in distress, even a sly little plug at the original that only fans will catch.
Yet this film does have many differences. For one, it takes a more intellectual approach to the subject of the gods. Here the writers reveal a modern cynicism in perhaps the darkest opinion of Greek gods to ever grace the big screen. Although the original wasn’t light in this point of view either, the rewritten version is much more pessimistic. The gods are seen as meddling and manipulative deities that rule over mankind with no other motivation than control. They are merciless and callous to the plight of the average man or woman.
However, the writers did clear up the divided focus of the original from many interfering gods and focused the wrath against Zeus, who is also Perseus’s father. In this version, Zeus sneaks into a rebellious king’s bedchamber and sleeps with the queen while looking like her husband. She gets pregnant and exiled all at the same time, thanks to his shenanigans, and the plot for the film is born.
Despite some radical improvements (there are no scenes with love struck teenagers mooning over each other, for instance), the writers still seem conflicted. While they combine villains for a clearer plot (Calibos and King Acrisius are now one and the same), they also introduce new ones to try to develop character (another female, Io). This only muddles the storyline as there are now two female leads and neither one really gets any character development amongst all of the male protagonists.
Where the writers give the gods a clearer motivation, they also cop out and make Hades the villain. They even changed the ending entirely, not only from the original film, but also from the original myth. Even so, they couldn’t leave the happy ending alone.
The writing changes aren’t the only thing worth noting about the film. There are some great special effects that still manage to use Ray Harryhausen’s original monster designs. The giant scorpions are still there and even a snakelike Medusa. Conversely, the Kraken doesn’t resemble any kind of creature from the Black Lagoon this time, thank goodness. The design of all the creatures is improved thanks to CGI, (even if it does lose some of the charm of the stop motion claymation effects that were used in the original).
That is not to say that the film is worth seeing in 3-D. This film was not made to be seen in 3-D. It was made in “regular 2-D” and 3D effects were added after the fact. As a result, there is a weird halo effect around some of the characters in the 3-D version. It just doesn’t work.
“Clash of the Titans” is a good way to start the rush of adrenaline flicks that the summer promises. It is entertaining without a lot of heft to it, but brings back the simple joy of matinee heroes.