Autodidact: self-taught

Dec
23
2014

Clash of the Titans Comparative Review

by V. L. Craven

Clash of the Titans 1981

Growing up I probably watching The Clash of the Titans a dozen times, if not more. I loved Greek mythology. I loved Athena’s owl and the witches and Medusa and Caliban. I loved the entire thing. Then, in 2010, they decided to remake the film because Hollywood simply cannot leave well-enough alone. Out of loyalty (and the knowledge they would screw it up) I avoided it. But after recent assurances that it wasn’t ‘as bad as you’d think’ I decided to give it a go. Yes, years after the remake, but still.

The original Clash of the Titans had what now seems like the entire cast of the Royal Shakespeare Company. It was written by Beverly Cross (Dame Maggie Smith’s late husband), which explains her involvement. Perhaps she brought everyone else with her. Whatever, I hope they all got second homes out of standing around in togas for five days of filming.

Speaking of togas–in the remake, the gods and goddesses are arrayed in clothes befitting their station. Which means Zeus (Liam Neeson) is wearing blindingly bright battle armour. If a toga was good enough for Sir Laurence Olivier I dare say it’s good enough for Mister I’ll-Kill-You-With-My-Fists. Gods and goddesses were generally depicted in togas carrying their assigned prop, but the costume designers weren’t having any of that. So we also get Voldemort playing Hades (perfect) but looking like Dracula.

Liberace would be jealous of this man's entrance-making skills, though.

Liberace would be jealous of this man’s entrance-making skills, though.

He even does a sort of Dementor’s kiss evil-power-transfer with Calibos at one point.

Which brings me to the characters. In the original I loved Calibos/Caliban. Here is a comparison between the two:

1981 (L); 2010 (R)

1981 (L); 2010 (R)

Not to be snide, but the original one looks like someone cursed by the gods (which is what happened). The second one just looks like he’s had a run in with a flaming machete. Or a first-semester special effects make-up student.

Then there was Medusa. Medusa was fantastic! I avoided the remake because I thought they’d CG Athena’s owl and I would have to burn the cinema down, but I wanted to see it to see the wonders they could accomplish with Medusa’s hair.

There she iiiiiis, Miss Americaaaaa... Anciiieeent Greeeeece

There she iiiiiis, Miss Americaaaaa… Anciiieeent Greeeeece

All of the characters had the builder’s in between the original and the remake–in the original our lady of the serpent-hair was living in the Chamber of Secrets–but in the interim she had apparently been playing loads of video games and asked to have her rooms in the Underworld made to look like those. There are fallen columns and lava and the whole deal.

Don't mess with a woman whose very *hair* has attitude.

Don’t mess with a woman whose very *hair* has attitude.

After Medusa, my favourite characters were the Stygian witches. Their eyes were clearly just sort of prostheticed down. I felt badly for the actresses, as they couldn’t see.

Meh.

Meh.

Whereas the remake make-up just…

Gah.

Gah.

I felt badly for my stomach, as it had nowhere to run to, nowhere to hide.

So, this epic adventure, which involves lots of English people ordering around (or being rescued by) one buff American, culminates in the infamous ‘Release the Kraken!’ line, which is supposed to be a fearsome Titan. A Kraken is supposed to look like a giant squid.

I don't think the Kraken was related to the Creature from the Black Lagoon.

I don’t think the Kraken was related to the Creature from the Black Lagoon.

I don’t know how many squids you’ve ¬†seen…

This is closer. Though I'm not sure where the legs came from.

This is more like it. Though I’m not sure where the legs came from.

Story-wise it is what it is. Neither film is true to the original myth of Perseus , though the first one is closer in that Hades isn’t involved. But, seriously, Hades’ ridiculous entrances (really, the man CANNOT just walk into a room) are worth watching the film.

As expected the effects are larger, though the claymation of the first one will always hold a special place in my heart if only because I saw them when I was young. The scorpion-fighting scene… nope. Nope nope nope.

Aaaaaaand nope.

Aaaaaaand nope.

And now we need to have a conversation about something. See that person in the foreground in the above photo? That’s a Djinn. Djinn have exactly nothing to do with Greek mythology. They’re from Middle Eastern mythology. And this Djinn not only doesn’t speak the same language of our heroes, but it turns out he’s a suicide bomber . But in a good way! So that makes it all right! What? No. Did someone think, ‘Well, they’re in the desert and the Middle East has lots of sand so…’ and then the obvious connections were made.

But in a good way! So that makes it all right!

I honestly have no idea how to segue out of that, so I’ll just say one of the other characters is played by Mads Mikkelsen, who plays Hannibal. But they gave him long hair, which makes him look like The Rock.

I could show you a picture of his face, but this one is better. You're welcome.

I could show you a picture of his face, but this one is better. You’re welcome.

It’s changed the way I watch Hannibal, that’s for certain.

Now that I’ve recovered from the Djinn debacle I can say that for the remake the filmmakers did bother to find some darkER people to play the Greeks than the first film, though I’ve been to Greece and… well, they might have tried harder.

If you’re younger and haven’t seen the first one already you should definitely see it, but it’s going to come off as very campy and the effects will be laughable. Just go with it. It’s a classic. I admit my prejudice when I say that one is 5/5

I know I’ve given the remake a difficult time, but I would recommend it–it was fun enough if you turn off your brain and don’t get too distracted by the disregard for the myth. 4/5

There’s a sequel to the remake entitled Wrath of the Titans, but this review has gone on long enough. I’ll give it a 4/5 and say that after you’ve fought the embodiment of a volcano you really should be a bit dirtier.

ps. I needn’t have worried about Athena’s owl; they way they handled it was my favourite part aside from Ralph Fiennes’ entrances.

Bubo is sceptical, but I promise it's true.

Bubo is sceptical, but I promise it’s true.

Leave a Reply

Powered by WordPress