Clash of the Titans (2010)
When I initially heard that Clash of the Titans was to be remade, I had mixed feelings. I grew up watch Ray Harryhausen movies and have a great affection for them. However, it can be argued that the 1981 original movie has hardly Harryhausens finest work. It was saddled with an uninspired script, a wooden lead and seemed very dated compared to comparable fantasy movies at the time, such as Dragonslayer. So, I chose to give the 2010 remake the benefit of the doubt. I was even prepared to overlook the fact that the movie had been retrofitted in to 3D during post-production. A pointless embellishment. Upon my first viewing, which I saw on a big screen West End theatre, I was left with mixed feelings. I recently decided to watch Clash of the Titans again to see if there were any aspects of the film that I had overlooked. Sadly, my conclusions remained the same.
Clash of the Titans has a somewhat turgid script, loaded with lots of contemporary dialogue. I’m not a fan of this sort of screenplay. Not that I want faux Old English as that would be as equally lazy. I just feel that some modern terms and idioms should be absent and that dialogue should reflect the social norms of the time. As a result of the somewhat generic narrative, we have several A-list actors (Ralph Fiennes and Liam Neeson) chewing the scenery and generally giving the screenplay the Vincent Price treatment. Then we have Sam Worthington, who at this point hadn’t quite found his comfort zone with regard to his choice of film roles. As a result, he is a singularly uninteresting hero.
As for the visual effects work and digital creations, they’re very competent, yet the way they are implement means that they’re often overbearing rather than engaging. Clash of the Titans is also a very noisy film. Once again contemporary film makers fall in to the trap of thinking that rapid edits, excessive camera motion and sheer volume, are an easy way to create tension and excitement. Then there is the casual brutality instead of suspense that is so often casually thrown in to movies of this rating (PG-13), irrespective of whether its needed or not. Unfortunately Clash of the Titans has precious little to do with the source legends that allegedly inspire it. Even with generous concessions to artistic licence, this bears little relationship to the ancient world.
Yet despite all these obvious flaws, I still enjoyed Clash of the Titans on a simplistic level. It is exactly what it claims to be, IE a big budget popcorn movie made in the modern idiom. Actors such as Pete Postleswaite and Mads Mikkelsen are always watchable and effectively carry the movie. Liam Cunningham has some suitably dry quips and frequently raises a wry smile. The location photography is vivid and production design surprisingly inventive. Most importantly of all, the character "Bubo" from the 1981 original, has been omitted from the storyline. There is one self-referential scene that touches on this matter, in a very funny way (or at least I thought so). As a result this one aspect did much to redress the films other failings.
It is very easy to get disproportionately nostalgic about the past and make sacred cows out of films that have a special place in our hearts. But we have to check our emotional baggage at the door of the cinema (or lounge) and go in focused on judging a remake on its own merit. There are many factors that shape a film. We must consider not only the technical abilities of those involved in the production but the prevailing social attitudes and trends of the time. Often, to compare both old and new is a bit like comparing apples and pears. Clash of the Titans is a prime example of studio blockbuster fodder, tailored to today's market. But if you accept that from the outset, it can still be enjoyed despite what it is.