Warning: This review contains spoilers.
I made plans to see Clash of the Titans with friends on a Friday night. I got rear-ended on the way to the theatre. My friends called this accident a gift from the gods that spared me from the horrors of this remake. One of my friends needed an hour of post-movie therapy in the theatre lobby after it was over. But I did finally watch it.
When I first wrote this review, it was scathing. I’d written Clash of the Titans off as one of the worst I’ve ever seen. Having slept on it, I think my deep dislike for the movie stems from nostalgia and affection for the original. I tried to look at it again objectively. If I’d never seen the 1981 classic and didn’t know anything about Greek mythology, would I enjoy Louis Leterrier’s new version? I’d love to be able to put those two factors aside, but I won’t because that’s the risk the filmmakers took. This could have been a great movie, but it isn’t.
This film maintains only the most superficial resemblance to the original. That is, a demigod son of Zeus named Perseus is enlisted to save the city of Argos, and its princess Andromeda, from destruction. With the aid of some divine weapons and the winged horse Pegasus, he kills Medusa, and uses her head to defeat the Kraken. Everything else is different.
Sam Worthington’s Perseus is a far cry from the sweet and naive demigod Harry Hamlin gave us in 1981. In this version, there is no romance between him and Andromeda; he is paired up with Io instead, a character that does not appear in the myth or the original film. Here, she steps into the role of Perseus’s guide, replacing the cat-loving playwright Ammon. The lovable owl Bubo only gets about 15 seconds of screen time.
The sea-goddess Thetis, originally played by Maggie Smith, is not in this film. Therefore, Calibos has been changed from her son and Andromeda’s husband-to-be into the husband of Perseus’s own mother. In this reboot, Calibos has been transformed by Zeus as punishment for tossing Danae and baby Perseus into a coffin, and dumping them into the sea to die. Calibos is irrelevant in this reboot.
We see next to nothing of any gods other than Zeus and Hades (who’s not in the original either). The characterisation of the two divine brothers is atrocious, filtered through the Christian lens of good and evil. Zeus is depicted as a bright, loving father who draws power from humankind’s devotion. Hades is a dark, evil demon who draws power from fear.
The new Clash of the Titans doesn’t just remove many of original’s classic and most beloved elements, it makes some notable additions such as inhuman desert sorcerers that have an uncanny resemblance to Tusken Raiders. They’re called djinns in the movie as if that makes more sense. And finally, I didn’t like the look of the film – the costumes, the hair and beard styles, the palaces, and so forth. With everything we know about the ancient world and following movies like Gladiator and Troy and shows like HBO’s Rome, there’s just no excuse to make a movie about the classical world look so shoddy.
The special effects are good and Medusa was cool, but it doesn’t offer enough visual thrills to offset the deficiencies of the script. It’s really a shame to waste the talents of such fine actors such as Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, and Polly Walker. It’s a greater shame to waste your hard earned money on this film.