Monday, April 5, 2010
Clash Of The Titans: Then and Now
Let me begin by saying that the original Titans film made back in 1981 is one of my childhood favorites. It may be cheesy and a little dated now, but it's still a fun movie. And I love all things mythological. King Arthur, Troy, etc. Even the erstwhile Xena series, which often devolved into slapstick, but was still entertaining. The new Clash of the Titans boasts bigger and better effects and more in your face action. The storyline has been tweaked a little, but the main plot is still there. Perseus (Sam Worthington, fresh from playing Jake Sully in Avatar) is the son of Zeus (Liam Neeson), who is raised by a kindly couple (Pete Postlethwaite and welcome back Elizabeth McGovern). But tragedy strikes when Hades (Ralph Fiennes) attacks desecrating soldiers and the family is caught in the middle. Perseus swears vengeance on the lord of the underworld and begins his perilous quest. He is taken to the city of Argos, where the king and queen are having a joyous celebration with the city's inhabitants. And they are pretty much mocking the gods and the queen even praises her daughter Andromeda (Alexa Davalos) over the goddess Aphrodite. Hades strikes and says the city must pay for their arrogance. If the princess is not offered up as sacrifice, then the Kraken, a formidable sea monster shall be unleashed and will destroy the entire city. So Perseus joins up with the king's soldiers to find a way to defeat the Kraken and must journey across the desert to meet the three Stygian witches. Who tell Perseus that the head of Medusa is the only way to defeat the Kraken. The new film follows that part pretty closely but things change up after that. Like Calibos. In the original film Calibos was a would be suitor for Andromeda who is deformed by Zeus for slaughtering all the flying horses, save Pegasus. In the new version, Calibos is the husband of Perseus natural mother, who is seduced by Zeus. But he is still transformed by Zeus into this hideous creature who lives hidden from man. Well Hades uses Calibos to hunt down and kill Perseus, and he imbues Calibos with some of his power. So this Calibos is amped up with strength and speed. He goes through the soldiers like they're nothing. In fact, he rips one soldier in half which is cool as hell. His initial battle with Perseus is cut short by the scorpions who are enlarged by Calibos spilled blood. That leads to a thrilling scene as the scorpions attack our heroes. Around this time Pegasus shows and she makes a powerful entrance as the other horses back off to make room for her. Oh also tagging along is Io, an immortal (played by Gemma Atherton), who has been watching over Perseus since the day he was born. Mads Mikkelsen is Draco, the leader of the soldiers. The band of heroes finally make their way to Medusa's temple, which sets up the best scene in the entire film. This Medusa is a CGI creation but she looks very real and moves very fast. She is very cool looking. And like the original film version, she is apt with a bow and arrow, picking off soldiers left and right. Her final battle with Perseus is pretty instense. After this scene, Calibos returns for a frenetic sword fight with Perseus. And then the finale with the face off with the Kraken. Which is an awesome display of CGI that fills up the entire screen. And when Perseus atop Pegasus, rides over and under the Kraken's tentacles, it's like a rollercoaster ride.
The new Clash of the Titans is not a perfect film. Worthington is ok as Perseus, but he's kind of one-note in his performance. Davalos as Andromeda is wasted. Pretty to look at, but that's about all. Neeson and Fiennes definitely have a good time, chewing the scenery. Jason Flemying is good as Calibos, but he is not used enough, save for his two big scenes. Mikkelsen is terrific as Draco. You may remember him as the bad guy from Casino Royale and the bad ass warrior from King Arthur, who didn't speak much and had a bird for a companion. He gives the film a kick every time he is onscreen. As does Atherton as Io, who may seem a tad odd, but she eventually warms up and becomes a likable character. The visual effects are top notch, including the Kraken, Medusa, and Pegasus. The negatives would be the weak music score, which doesn't even come close to matching the heroic score of the original film. The Stygian witches are forgettable. And while this new version is about 15 minutes shorter, it does have a very slow beginning. It takes awhile to get going, but once it does, it becomes a solid adventure. And the 3D effect is non-existent. I pulled my glasses off for like 20 minutes and couldn't tell the difference. So you can enjoy Clash in the regular 2D version just fine. So, while this update improves on almost every aspect of the original, it falls short in one major category. Davalos just doesn't do it for me as the princess Andromeda. She really doesn't inspire the feeling that she is a woman worth all the trouble. I mean Judi Bowker from the first Titans movie was the real deal. One of the most breathtakingly gorgeous women ever. And definitely worth battling gods and monsters for. OK, lost my train of thought there, back to the review. But that's a minor quibble from me. Both films can be enjoyed in their own right. Oh and Bubo, the owl makes a cameo appearance as a nice homage to the original film. It's was cool seeing him, if only for a few seconds.
B (for the 2010 version)/ B- (for the 1981 version)
Alexa Davalos as Andromeda (2010)
Judi Bowker as Andromeda (1981)