Major Spoilers Follow:
Have you ever played a little game called Gears of War 2? The best way I can possibly describe Warner Bros. Pictures’ Clash of the Titans would be to compare it to beating Gears of War 2 on beginner (even lower than easy). The comparison is so parallel that it continues all the way until the extremely anticlimactic battle with the boss/Kraken who’s defeated with a single strike of lightning. While a quasi-fun ride, this remake never quite pushes itself — it feels more like reheated leftovers (with some extra cheese thrown on top) than something freshly cooked.
I’m a huge fan of Desmond Davis’ 1981 Clash of the Titans, yet when the remake was announced I couldn’t help but think of the possibilities. The original had its issues that ranged from poor pacing to the lack of contemporary FX (not to say it doesn’t have its charm). If there was a film that could use an upgrade, this was it.
After taking on big characters, loads of CG and a massive budget with The Incredible Hulk, it appeared that Louis Leterrier was a good choice for Clash. While he has little trouble translating those experiences, there appears to be a major disconnect between his character development and the special FX.
Much like the original film, the first half drags to no end. The characters have no real depth as they’re constantly described to us through voiceovers and other characters. Then we’re taken through the heavy build that pits man vs. gods, a long 45 minutes of hefty, useless exposition. All I could think was, “Let’s get the show on the road already!” All that needed to happen was Zeus exclaiming his distain for man turning their backs on him, followed by a shot of the infamous God declaring war on his creation. An hour? Come on man, are you kidding me?
This causes major issues in the second half of the film as everything from then on out feels rushed. Much like playing a first-person shooter on beginner, everything happens incredibly easy for Perseus (Sam Worthington) and his crew. In the first hour Perseus is told that the Kraken is impossible to defeat, that no man could ever make it to the three blind witches, and that no one has ever escaped the clutches of Medusa. It’s built up so much that I was expecting the most epic battles ever to grace the big screen. Nope. After defeating a few giant crabs, Perseus and co. literally just walk up to the witches, “I’m here!” He finds out what he needs to know and then moves on find good ol’ Medusa. Again, they just walk right into her lair without any obstructions (in the original they fight a two-headed beast). Even worse is the amount of time spent in the battle as Perseus makes one bold move decapitating the snake-headed she-beast. In the original there’s at least an uncomfortable battle between the two! And don’t get me started on the Kraken. If you’ve played Gears of War 2 you might remember the gigantic final boss that is killed with a single shot of a special weapon. Clash of the Titans is the same; the Kraken comes out of the water and is literally defeated in seconds. All of the build, all of the myth, and all of the lore is all for nothing. Anticlimactic is an understatement. The movie builds and builds and builds, yet nothing ever comes of it. Everything comes to Perseus so easily that it’s BORING. Die Hard, Aliens, Rocky, and countless other films achieve greatness by having the hero go through HELL to find redemption, they EARN IT. Clash of the Titans suffers from Superman complex, where Perseus is so fucking badass unstoppable that he barely even breaks a sweat during battle (it didn’t help that Sam Worthington phoned this one in with his best Jack from “Lost” impersonation). I wanna see my hero BLEED before he narrowly escapes death.
Furthermore, the lack of practical FX work was alarming. Sure they used some when they ride the crabs, and we see a nice variation of miniatures in Medusa’s lair, but overall the use of CGI was excessive. Literally every single shot of Medusa was CGI – and not even done well. The idea is to cross-edit CG with a few shots of some real snakeskin so the viewer will visualize the real thing. In the film Medusa looks WORSE than a videogame baddy (although her actual design work is incredible). Is amazing how Jurassic Park set the bar back in 1993, yet nobody paid attention. Guys, bigger does NOT mean better. Clash of the Titans is yet another example of a film that proves this.
Again, this could have really been epic, in fact, it should have been! What was delivered is a “spiced up” version of the original that’s the exact same tale told the exact same way… including all of the problems. While it’s not a bad film, it’s also not really that good either. If anything, I’d recommend picking up Warner’s Blu-ray release of the original that features Laurence Olivier as Zeus, a badass Harry Hamlin as Perseus, and banging stop-motion that feels more realistic than this CG bullshit. Go ahead, release the Kraken, it ain’t no thang.