One of my favorite films of all time is “The Sting,” and at one point in that movie two of the finest actors (Sadly, both are deceased.) who ever graced the silver screen confront each other, and one of them utters a classic line. When Harry Gondorf (portrayed by the incomparable Paul Newman) refuses to take a bet that Doyle Lonnegon (played by the equally incomparable Robert Shaw) wants to place, Lonnegon says, “Not only are you a cheat. You’re a gutless cheat as well.”
In thinking of how to best describe “Clash of the Titans,” I decided to paraphrase that line and say that not only is this movie a needless remake; it’s a worthless remake as well. The original film about the conflict among the gods on Mount Olympus and how they used their own offspring as pawns in their disputes came out in 1981 and boasted a cast that included Laurence Oliver as Zeus, Claire Bloom as Hera, Maggie Smith as Thetis, Ursula Andress as Aphrodite, Judi Bowker as Andromeda, and Henry Hamlin as Perseus.
In the updated version we get Liam Neeson in the role of Zeus, Sam Worthington playing Perseus, and Alexa Davalos as Andromeda. And while the cast members in the remake turn in respectable performances, they fail to do something the original cast members did – make us care about their respective characters. As you might expect the new film is a veritable showcase for the smorgasbord of bells and whistles that accompanies the relentless march of CGI technology. I’ll have more about that shortly.
If you saw the first film, you know that Zeus and Thetis had a quarrel, and Zeus turned her son, Calibos, into a monster so that the lovely Andromeda would not marry him. This paves the way for Perseus to pursue Andromeda, but his trip to the altar is not an easy one. En route he must solve a difficult riddle, tame Pegasus, slay Medusa, and conquer the Kraken, a monster that rivals King Kong in size and might.
Now if you go to see modern version expecting the same storyline, forget it. Oh many of the characters have the same names, but the plot unfolds differently in so many ways that it is impossible to list them all here. Suffice it to say that if you loved the original storyline, you’ll be very disappointed in the remake because the story isn’t as engaging as it was in the first film, and the ending is not nearly as satisfying as it was in the earlier movie. AND PEGASUS IS A WHITE HORSE, NOT A BLACK ONE!
“Clash of the Titans” is good for one thing and one thing only; it shows how far the technological aspects of filmmaking have advanced in the past 30 years. Gone are the herky-jerky movements of the monsters. The scorpions and Medussa are spectacular in this film, but they are not enough to keep it from being an incredibly poor excuse for a remake. And there’s more.
As you know, this film is billed as a 3-D movie, and if you been to a 3-D film recently, you know that the technology for such movies also has improved vastly during the years since the early and mid-1950s, when the genre enjoyed its golden era. Gone are the white cardboard glasses with the red and green cellophane lenses, and in their place are high-quality plastic glasses that resemble sunglasses. And the effect is truly amazing. It used to be a thrill to see an object come toward you from the screen, but nowadays the technical wizards have figured out a way to have objects appear to move onto the screen from a point behind your head. And when I saw “Beowulf,” at one point I was certain that I was going to be soaked because the sea was lapping at the seats just in front of me.
However, you will not find any of these spectacular 3-D effects in “Clash of the Titans.” In fact, several times during the film, I removed the special glasses to see whether or not they might be defective. Then I thought perhaps that I was going blind or that my brain had malfunctioned and left me with no depth perception. Fortunately none of these scenarios proved to be the case because after doing a little research on this film, I learned that the movie was not shot in 3-D and that the filmmakers tried to add the effect after the movie had already been shot. The result is a film that is billed as 3-D when in fact, it’s 2-D movie that has been subjected to an alteration that turned into an abysmal failure.
“Clash of the Titans” (Let’s score it a 3 just for the CGI effects.) is a sacrilegious remake and an egregious fraud. And it has been billed as the first blockbuster of the summer season! It probably will bilk unsuspecting moviegoers out of millions, but when the word about it gets out, I wouldn’t be surprised if it faded into oblivion fairly quickly. In the meantime, I’ll bet the residents of Mt. Olympus are rightfully pissed!