By: Garrett Collins
Starring: Sam Worthington, Gemma Arterton, Mads Mikkelson, Jason Flemyng, Ralph Fiennes, and Liam Neeson
I am not one to whine and complain about the onslaught of remakes coming down the pike in recent years. While the majority of them are in fact useless ways to re-imagine, re-do, and re-make-me-crazy at their unoriginality, when done right, remakes can be useful. Not just to remind people of the types of things that made their childhood great, but also to show people that old ideas, when re-done right, can meld with new and make for a very entertaining film in and of itself. John Carpenter’s 1982 film The Thing immediately comes to mind. And, while growing up watching 1981’s Clash of the Titans was a big staple in my life, the idea of remaking it didn’t necessarily have me up in arms. Watching Harryhausen’s effects, while there was certainly a sort of joy watching them way back when, are primitive compared to today’s standards. If you don’t believe me, try showing it to someone who didn’t grow up watching it. I did, and all she did was laugh at the effects saying that they could do so many more things with it today, and the stop motion was distracting to her. So, when I saw this 2010 remake by Louis Leterrier (The Incredible Hulk), I was taken aback to see that not only did the modern computer effects displayed throughout add nothing to it, the acting, look, and feel of the movie were more bland than ever, making this a very disappointing film going experience.
The problems with Clash are aplenty, but one must not go very far talking about them without the mention of casting. While Avatar most certainly put him on the map, Sam Worthington was in no less than two other franchises this year, and riding a wave of action success. But, in this, the role of Perseus, he is very poorly miscast. Australian accent shown through, Worthington, like in most other roles he is in, shows zero charisma and never talks in much more than a whisper, therefore you never feel for the positions his character is put in. The problems don’t stop with him, however. Arterton, while very beautiful and statuesque, just kind of stands in the background for most of the movie as her character of lo. And, when she is called to talk and act out scenes (like in the voice-over and exposition scenes) she really comes off as more annoying than anything. Especially as she ‘trains’ Perseus for his battle with Medusa. Standing while your skin and outfits glow a beautiful shade of white is not a good substitute for substance in a performance. And, Atertan makes this very clear the entire film. Laughable to say the least. However, what really took me aback while watching Clash 2010 was how bland both Fiennes and Neeson, both very respected actors, came off looking in this movie. I never thought I would see roles by either of these guys where it was quite apparent that they were there collecting a paycheck (Phantom Menace notwithstanding). But, it was, as a fan of both, really sad seeing them play off each other as rivals. They are out of their element and way too good to be here, and I really hope just the joy they had in working together was enough to put up with what the result was.
All the promotional materials for this film pointed to director Leterrier as being a big fan of the original film, and he wanted to honor that film in any way he could. However, where he really dropped the ball was the portrayal of Medusa in this film. While Harryhausen’s effects were no less than primitive, his rendition of Medusa, and the entire scene of Perseus trying to hunt her while being hunted himself, was by far the best part of that film. It used to scare me silly, and the claustrophobia felt while Perseus and his crew hid behind rocks from her was suspenseful to say the least. Here, instead of hiding, Perseus and his crew can be seen JUMPING rocks CGI- style, and Medusa herself ends up being a big disappointment. The legend of that character is that she was beautiful once and became extremely ugly due to the curse put forth upon her. Well, it is tough to be cursed when afterwards all you look like is a supermodel with snake hair, which, after all the build-up of her legend, is how this Medusa comes off as. Sad too, because Leterrier, as director of the film, had the final approval of the result.
The main reason Leterrier was brought on board was for action, and I will say there is a decent amount of good action here. Especially the scenes in which Perseus fights massive multiple scorpions in the desert. And, the way the witches in this updated version of the story (which were all played by men) came off was also very well done. But, with bland dialogue and even the music coming off as less than stellar, this movie really has nothing going for it. In the end, I would say just watch the original. While there is a complete absence of modern computer graphics than this mess, at least there is plenty of passion on display in that film. Which, is something mightily apparent from the outset of this turkey that everyone involved in the remake lacked.
1.5 out of 5