There’s usually an uproar amongst genre fans when a remake is announced for one of their cult favorites. However, this phenomenon was surprisingly subdued when the Clash Of The Titans redux was announced. Even the most diehard of the Harryhausen fanatics had to admit it was one of the stop-motion king’s lesser entries. Thus, the door was left open for fans to harbor some hope that a new version of this film might be the rare remake that actually improves upon its predecessor.
However, hoping for something alone can’t make it so – and the 2010 version of Clash Of The Titans provides a bitter object lesson in this fact of life. The first few moments have a faint glimmer of promise, with a new backstory that starts with Perseus (Sam Worthington) as the son of a kind fisherman (Pete Postlewaite). Unfortunately, the fisherman and the rest of Perseus’ adoptive family perish at sea when intrigue between the Gods and disbelieving mortals results in the unleashing of the Kraken.
No sooner does Perseus make it to land then he finds himself embroiled in a conflict between Hades (Ralph Fiennes) and the king’s family. Hades demands that the king’s daughter Andromeda (Alexa Davalos) be sacrificed as a sign of respect or he will allow the Kraken to destroy their home. It is also revealed that Perseus is the mortal son of Zeus. The loss of his mortal family and the anger inspired by this revelation inspire him to seek vengeance on the gods by destroying the Kraken. He enlists a band of heroes including military leader Draco (Mads Mikkelsen) to help him find a way to stop the Kraken, getting added assistance from a mysterious young woman named Io (Gemma Arterton).
As stated before, the filmmakers had multiple chances to improve upon their model with this remake of Clash Of The Titans – and they botch them in every conceivable way. The problems start with the lead character. Perseus has been reconceived as a proud, stubborn lunkhead who tends to get the people helping him killed. He also spends a disturbing amount of the film’s running time getting knocked down or writhing in pain (at the risk of sounding like a meathead, Your Humble Reviewer likes his cinematic heroes to be a bit more manly).
The script is also a mess in other areas: it starts with the idea of mankind rebelling against the arrogance of the Gods, only to turn its back on this theme by the end (Zeus ain’t a bad guy, he was just misled by bad ol’ Hades). The script also has an overly serious and somber tone that works against the sense of wonder it tries to evoke with its fantasy elements and spectacle. To make things worse, the film is choppily edited, with countless plot hooks getting fumbled (the revelation that Perseus is Zeus’ son is tossed out like an afterthought) and a preponderance of characters who are indistinguishable because they don’t get introduced by name. As a result, a late scene in the film where the characters call out to each other in Medusa’s lair becomes a moment of unintentional comedy because the audience doesn’t know who is who.
Louis Leterrier’s direction is indifferent at best, leaving the actors to their own devices and piling on one visually-muddled action scene after another. Worthington is just kind of there, with his historically inappropriate buzzcut hairstyle commanding more attention than his acting. The hammiest performancecome from Fiennes and Jason Flemyng as a reconceived version of Calibos. The best performance comes from Mikkelson, who carries himself with the kind of gravitas needed for the kind of hero the film wants to have – it’s a shame he’s relegated to second-banana status.
Even the effects aren’t that impressive. Case in point: The Kraken. It may have been poorly animated in the original film but it had a great design. In the remake, it looks like a shotgun marriage between a snake and a snapping turtle. Medusa doesn’t fare much better, especially since the filmmakers have her lunge at the audience and hiss like a snake. Decent effects like the giant scorpions suffer because the sequences they appear are cursed with haphazard staging and blender-style editing.
The end result feels like little more than a bunch of visual-effects sequences held together by the flimsiest of narratives… and that’s because it is. As Devin Faraci revealed in an excellent investigative article at the CHUD website, this film was drastically reworked in post-production and the finished film is a patchwork of eleventh-hour reshoots and heavily edited-down original footage. This wrongheaded approach to storytelling makes the Clash Of The Titans remake a dismal slog to get through. There’s precious little to get involved in and if you do, it’s likely to get changed around a few minutes later.
In fact, this really isn’t a feature film. It’s a Content Delivery System that offers an effects setpiece every reel – and that just isn’t enough to make it watchable, especially when that fails at delivering the most basic elements of storytelling satisfaction. This wretched, corporate-driven approach makes the 2010 redux of Clash Of The Titans is one of the worst remakes Your Humble Reviewer has ever seen.