Ray Harryhausen is one of the most fascinating figures in film history: A special fx artist who would single handedly bring a cavalcade of monstrous horrors to the silver screen, while simultaneously serving as the main creative force behind the films that he worked on. Harryhausen didn’t create monsters to bring the story to life; The story was created as glue to put the monster scenes together.
The original Clash Of The Titans was Harryhausen’s swan song, and as remake rumors circled around the project, I thought to myself “What’s the point?”. Name recognition? For whatever reason, we have a new version, and I think it does a fine job of living up to the spirit of the original – As in, “Yes, yes, fine plot. Now, let’s get to the monsters!”.
Clash (Which, like the original, contains zero titans) feels like a throwback film, in all the right ways: You have the testosterone ridden, musclebound hero who hates magic (Conan?!); a silly, dream logic 80’s feel; and, despite the requisite CGI, a good number of practical fx and sets. It’s fast paced, it doesn’t take itself very seriously, and it’s surprisingly respectful of the original film (With the exception of a hilarious Bubo cameo). I went in expecting a 300 style film, and ended up with a much more entertaining concoction, which could only have been improved had Tangerine Dream or Vangelis done the soundtrack.
Devin Faraci just wrote a blog about the version of Clash that we didn’t see; Zeus is more of a straight up villain, the other gods have bigger roles, and the connection between Perseus and Andromeda makes more sense. Most of this was actually shot, and then the plot was later changed in reshoots. While that alternative version would be interesting to see eventually, honestly. . . I don’t think I miss any of that. Would the plot making more sense actually improve the film, or would the slower pace force you to realize that you’re attempting to take a Louis Letterier film, featuring Sam Worthington in sandals and a crew cut, seriously? I love the goofiness of the film; It’s what cements the whole thing together. I love the father/son bonding moment at the end, “Well, son, sorry for raping your mother out of spite. Maybe we could go fishing sometime? Ho ho!”. I love Ralph Fiennes’ sure to be Razzie nominated performance as Hades. I love that Poseidon has one line, and I’m left thinking, “Was that fucking Danny Huston?!?”.
Are there non-camp elements that I love? Certainly! The action scenes kick ass, and the monster designs are great. Again, I loved a lot of the practical fx and sets. I love that if you changed Zeus to the Judeo-Christian-Muslim god, then this is basically the movie version of Preacher. I love that the message of the film changed from the extremely boring “Damn the man!” to “Chill the fuck out”.
Mostly, I love seeing a movie where people made out of wood ride around on giant scorpions. Call me an easy sell.