Clash of the Titans: Justice? Or Revenge?

Clash of the Titans 2010

{Clash of the Titans opens in Seattle on Thursday, April 1 and is playing at AMC Pacific Place, The Metro and the Majestic Bay}

The 1981 original Clash of the Titans came out at exactly the right time for me to worship it with fangirl enthusiasm, as I was already familiar with Ray Harryhausen’s awesome stop-motion animation via Jason and the Argonauts and two Sinbad movies that played over and over on channel 11. Adding to my adoration was the fact that I was also starting to discover Greek & Roman mythology: stories that my 10-year-old brain absolutely LOVED.

If you haven’t heard, the argument that people who study mythology always bring up about this story is that there aren’t any actual Titans in it. And it’s true – the Greek Titans ruled before the Olympians featured in both versions, and the Kraken is actually a sea monster from Norwegian and Icelandic legend. No matter; I was a sucker for the 1981 film the second the music swelled over the opening credits.

So on to the “remake” – and I put quotes around that because I’m not sure what this is, really. I read that Director Louis Leterrier (the man responsible for The Incredible Hulk and Transporter 2) is a big fan of the original, and tried hard to make sure this was an homage to it instead of a bastardization – so sorry, Louis, but you failed.

Clash of the Titans Perseus

The writers made so many changes to the original story that the movie no longer makes any sense. I’m not saying that Harry Hamlin’s Perseus wasn’t totally cheesy (his hair might have actually done most of the acting), or that some of the dialog doesn’t hold up, but look: the script was SOLID. It was a classic hero story with love driving the main character to fight towards victory.

The 1981 version starts by showing King Acrisius of Argos casting daughter Danae and her son Perseus (fathered by Zeus, in the form of a shower of gold) into the sea to die, and then introduces us to the Olympians: Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Thetis, Aphrodite, and Athena – wherein of course, Zeus commands Poseidon to save his child by pushing their sea-coffin to a beach, and then orders him to “Release the Kraken!” who then destroys Argos. Zeus then crushes the life out of Acrisius with his bare hands. You can hear his bones crunching as he dies! BADASS.

All of this is VERY important, because not only do we get to see the stop-motion Kraken wreak havoc right off the bat, we also learn that the Gods & Goddesses have some major bones to pick with each other – the banter between Hera & Thetis about Zeus’s philandering is particularly juicy. The Olympians like to play a lot of games with humans, pretty much whenever and however they feel like it (one of my favorite scenes involves the head of Thetis’s statue chewing out Cassiopeia for being so stupidly vain).

Anyway, Thetis is pissed about Zeus deforming her son, Calibos (dude killed every single winged horse except one: Pegasus) and ruining his engagement to Princess Andromeda – so she picks Perseus up from his peaceful village and deposits him into an amphitheater run by hilarious old guy Ammon (Burgess Meredith).  Together, they figure out that he’s the son of Zeus, then Perseus trots off to Joppa to get a taste of big city life. As soon as he lays eyes on hottie Andromeda, he falls madly in love with her and decides to break the curse Calibos has put on the city. THIS is even more important, because Perseus’s affection for Andromeda now becomes the driving force of everything he does for the rest of the film.

Clash of the Titans Stygian Witches

In the 2010 film, a team of 3 screenwriters screwed all of that up by doing the following:

1) Adding HADES (a gravelly-voiced Ralph Fiennes, resembling Lord Voldemort a little too much here) into the mix, who is secretly plotting to overthrow Zeus and take his place on the Olympic throne
2) Having the humans declare war on the Gods without any particular provocation – they’re just tired of worshipping and not getting what they want, I guess?
3) Changing Perseus’s reason to fight into a personal battle with Hades for killing his family (which results in a speech even cheesier than the one Bill Pullman makes in Independence Day)
4) …and removing his love for Andromeda, which then totally invalidates him going to get Medusa’s head and turning the Kraken to stone to save both her and Argos (wait, what? So this is Argos, not Joppa?)
5) Making Acrisius into Calibos after being struck by Zeus’s lightening stick and deformed (um. wha?) – who later gets a dose of Hades power, which allows him to rip people in half and birth mega-scorpions out of his dripping blood
6) Creating the most ridiculous supporting characters ever: including Lo, the ageless supernatural hot chick, dessert creatures called Jin (think Star Wars Sand People mashed up with the Frankenstein monster and covered in ash), and a band of loin-clothed fighters who provide more comic relief than action
7) Changing Zeus from ambivalent ruler of the Gods guy Lawrence Oliver, who’s busy protecting his seed and enacting revenge on others, to nice guy Liam Neeson who genuinely loves his son and just wants him to come to Olympus (I won’t make this offer again! Oh wait, I will. Never mind!)
8) Showing Medusa as a creature with snake parts on an otherwise totally banging bod and a gorgeous face
9) Don’t even get me started on the completely over-the-top Kraken and the unnecessary ranting religious fanatic.

Look, I could go on and on here, but one thing’s for sure – this story just doesn’t add up. Despite starting to get pulled into the story a few times (I’m still not sure whether I should be angry or happy that mechanical owl Bubo had a cameo), there was too much going on without any clear reason, almost no character development, HUGE plot holes, and none of the special effects were spectacular enough to make up for it. Also:  what’s up with the Stygian Witches looking like they were spawned from Guillermo del Toro monsters? I mean, seriously. As for the 3D, it wasn’t even necessary. So unimpressive I actually removed my glasses a few times and couldn’t tell the difference. Unsurprisingly, they left this thing WIDE OPEN for a sequel.

Clash of the Titans 1981

Thanks,  but no thanks guys. I’ll stick with my simple, stop-motioned, curly-haired, snarky-Goddessed version.