Louis Leterrier's remake of the 1981 sword and sandals fantasy epic Clash of the Titans is awful in so many ways. It comes on loud and obnoxious with very little understanding of the current world of cinema. It plays out like an ADD riddled six year old recounting the better parts of a VHS tape he saw the day before, but doesn't quite comprehend. This new incarnation of the Greek God fairy tale hits all of the iconic high points seen in that first film, but without an inkling of what made those images work in the first place. It's absent of heart and an articulate throughline. It's a mumbled jumble of flesh set flying about, backed by an old fashion sense of corny retribution not seen since the Mid-60s. Hands down, 2010's Clash of the Titans is one of the most annoying, clouded remakes ever hashed upon an audience. It's a miserable, headache inducing shit storm to sit through. I thought movies were supposed to be fun. Leterrier has made an epic of agony and pain. By the time Liam Neeson kicks those much-needed words past his teeth, "Release the Kraken!" You're quite well prepared to tell this movie to go fuck itself. That this weak climax only has you yearning for the original makes you hate the film even more.
That, there, is a huge part of the problem. Desmond Davis didn't create a great film with the original. It was panned upon its release, and is most fondly remembered as a piece of nostalgia. It's aged better than most of the sci-fi films of that decade, but even the hardcore fanboys don't flaunt its importance in cinema. Its never been looked at as an untouchable property. Even Ray Harryhausen fanatics rate it low on his filmography. The original Clash of the Titans was considered a rip-off of such stellar works of art as The 7th Voyage of Sinbad and Jason and the Argonuaghts. If we extract Harryhausen's work from the original Clash, we're left with a hokey string of white cheese. Clash of the Titans is a film that could have used a proper remake to its advantage. It's a work that could be greatly improved upon. Leterrier fails at this. Desmond Davis at least made a charming, fun adventure that can still be enjoyed on many levels. This new film accomplishes none of that. Worst of all, it plays more like a really bad remake of Willow or Krull than it does a really bad remake of Clash of the Titans. Leterrier certainly understands what made those films so cloying. And he slathers on that conceit like thick relish.
The story bounds from one giant set piece to the next, with nothing to tie it all together. The narrative is sold in a blur of incoherence. Leterrier has no understanding of what made these scenes so cool in their original incarnation. He crunches through them without any sense of pacing. Sure, the images are neat (never stunning). But they arrive with a dull thud. We never care about the characters, their quest, or why they're dangling in front of us. In the original, Calibos was a truly frightening image of a man. The make-up is superb. It really can't be fucked with. But Leterrier fucks it up. This new Calibos is queer and unsympathetic. We're given no reason for his decent into maleficent perpetuity. He's just another obstacle thrown in the way of our hero for a quick sword fight. At least Desmond Davis made him a memorable, miserable creature of hate. The Stygian Witches were at once scary and mysterious. Unnerving. There was a queasy unpredictability to their writhing actions. Here, they show up as quick visual effects hoping to inspire a few 'oohs and ahs'. When Harry Hamlin's Perseus disposed of their omniscient shared eyeball, it seemed cruel and unprovoked. Sam Worthington's blank slate of a Perseus only seems to be doing this mean deed because he saw someone else do it in another movie. This is a true example of forced thematic contrivance. There's nothing redeeming about it.
Liam Neeson arrives as the Greek God Zeus in a sparkly Elvis disco jumpsuit, acting in atrocious shades of shitatude. We get to see all of the Greek deities stomping around in heaven, and it makes not one lick of sense. Is he a good guy? Is he a bad guy? Neeson doesn't even know. The good folks of Argos have decided to trash his statue, so he wants to retaliate by unleashing the once awesome Kraken upon them. This is all sold in a headache inducing stretch of WTF idiocy that will leave you scratching your head, "How am I supposed to suspend my disbelief long enough to believe in this?" Its impossible, dated dumpster seepage. Soon, Hades (a truly awful Ralph Fiennes) is flaunting his bad business around, and our only hope is that the room will stop spinning long enough for this story to come into focus. That never happens.
The opening moments remain quite faithful to Beverley Cross' original 1981 screenplay. Perseus is a half-man/half-God amalgamation abandoned by his family and adopted by an old man that looks suspiciously like Burgess Meredith. The son of Zeus, Worthington's Perseus wants nothing to do with being a God. He refuses their ways, and he refuses to use their tools even when they are needed the most. When Argos discovers that the Kraken is going to pay them a 3D visit quite soon, it is up to Perseus to defeat the unbeatable creature. Though the ghastly green shark turtle lives just off the coast of this seaside community, Perseus gathers a ragtag team of misfits to go trouncing across the landscape in search of...Something. It's never made clear why he leaves town. Shouldn't a journey have a purpose? His band of merry gentlemen are faceless extras that never amount to much in the face of a battle. Though the battles here are quite weak incarnations of staged contrivence. Leterrier even throws in knock-offs of Rool and Franjean (the Kevin Pollack, Rick Overton Brownie characters from Willow) for some non-existent comedic relief as if he forgot which film he was remaking.
Why doesn't he just kiss the nipple that has sat inside a bloody ass one more time for good measure?
As this small cache of Spartan Army rejects sets out to conquer the grass beneath their feet, Perseus, in his infinite wisdom, trashes Bubo the Metal Owl, leaving him in a dustbin. With it goes any sense of joy the original film had to offer. From here on out, we're spring loaded from one eye-blistering action sequence to the next. We get giant scorpions, a bunch of blue-eyed wooden men that look scraped off the editing room floor of Krull, the lame Stygian Witches, and a run in with the river Styx. It takes three nasty, clairvoyant hags to clear up the quest we're supposedly on. Fans of the original know we're heading towards a showdown with Medusa, which Gemma Arterton gloriously massacres with her English accent as "Meduser". THe film never makes any of this clear, and we're left to rely on our memories of the first film to figure out what is actually going on in this huddle house of misery.
Everything up until this point is unbalanced. It's a mess. The double whammy Medusa-Kraken climax hits with a saliva-squeezed nonchalantness that is too eager to please only those audience members who can't hold onto a single thought for more than two seconds. It's a pummeling only made worse by the 3D glasses you're asked to strap on your face. As someone who understands the importance of a dollar in this cruel economic landscape, I warn you not to spend the money on this horrible, loosely erected fly-by-night Mexican carnival ride found only in the parking lot of a strip mall. If you fail to heed this blatant cry, and you still feel the need to go see this on opening weekend, I implore you to see it in 2D. I'm not a 3D hater by any means. But this is atrocious. Clash of the Titans wasn't meant to be in 3D and it shows. The conversion process is the worst of its kind. It's like watching a movie in a review mirror. Some of the images are distorted and curved. And at least half of it's not even in 3D. Taking the glasses off actually improves upon the viewing experience.
Don't believe any four star reviews that might pop up here in the next day or two. That dude probably got a free sandwich for suffering through this madness with a smile. 2010's Clash of the Titans ranks amongst the worst remakes ever dooted out on the face of American cinema. It wallows in the shit muds. Louis Leterrier has crafted one of the most unpleasant theatrical experiences seen in years. Seriously, why is Pegasus black? Just because is not a good enough answer. I want my money back.
I can't scream this loud enough: BOO!
(All of B. Alan Orange's reviews are based on the Boo! or Whoop-doo! evaluation system.)