Clash of the Titans (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy)

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Rating: PG-13

Starring:
Sam Worthington as Perseus
Liam Neeson as Zeus
Ralph Fiennes as Hades
Jason Flemyng as Calibos / Acrisius
Gemma Arterton as Io
Alexa Davalos as Andromeda
Tine Stapelfeldt as Danae
Mads Mikkelsen as Draco
Luke Evans as Apollo
Izabella Miko as Athena
Liam Cunningham as Solon
Hans Matheson as Ixas
Ashraf Barhom as Ozal
Mouloud Achour as Kucuk
Ian Whyte as Sheikh Sulieman
Pete Postlethwaite as Spyros

Directed by Louis Leterrier

Special Features:
Sam Worthington: An Action Hero For The Ages – A Dedicated Actor Morphs Into A Lean Fighting Machine For A Mythic Movie
Alternate Ending – Perseus Confronts Zeus On Mount Olympus
Maximum Movie Mode

Other Info:
Widescreen (2.40:1)
DTS-HD MA Surround Sound
Spanish and French Languages
Spanish and French Subtitles
Running Time: 106 Minutes

The Details:
The following is the official description of the film:

“In ‘Clash of the Titans,’ the ultimate struggle for power pits men against kings and kings against gods. But the war between the gods themselves could destroy the world. Born of a god but raised as a man, Perseus (Sam Worthington) is helpless to save his family from Hades (Ralph Fiennes), vengeful god of the underworld. With nothing to lose, Perseus volunteers to lead a dangerous mission to defeat Hades before he can seize power from Zeus (Liam Neeson) and unleash hell on earth. Battling unholy demons and fearsome beasts, Perseus and his warriors will only survive if Perseus accepts his power as a god, defies fate and creates his own destiny.”

“Clash of the Titans” is rated PG-13 for fantasy action violence, some frightening images and brief sensuality.

The Movie:
I have to be upfront that “Clash of the Titans” is one of my all-time favorite films. I loved it as a kid for the Ray Harryhausen creatures. It introduced me to Greek mythology. Despite loving the original so much, even I will admit it has its cheesy moments. I even wondered for the last 29 years what kind of remake you could create with CGI animation. So it was with great anticipation that I watched the new “Clash of the Titans.”

The new movie is without a doubt better in some respects. The scenes with Pegasus are really cool and, I believe, capture what Harryhausen wanted to do with his stop-motion animation. As Pegasus takes flight with Hades’ bat-like creatures pursuing him and Perseus, they fly in and out of the city and among the Kraken’s tentacles. It’s a fantastic sight, especially in 3D. I also think this new Kraken is a worthy successor to the original. The design is quite cool and when the creature rises out of the water, it is the highlight of the film. (It makes you wonder what the possibilities are for the new Godzilla movie.) The new giant scorpions are also a lot more menacing than the original. The battle with them is also one of the better action scenes of the movie.

The new Medusa was a bit of a mixed bag. I liked the fact that she was faster and there are some great moments where she pursues Perseus through the ruins of the temple. They also retain the fact that she’s an archer and picks off multiple soldiers from the shadows. I did think the original Medusa was a lot creepier and I think the original scene built up the suspense a lot more while emphasizing better the fact that Perseus can only defeat her by looking at her reflection in his shield. This is almost lost in the new version. But overall it’s a good remake of the scene.

The original “Clash of the Titans” essentially took the original myths, put them in a blender, and got a script that was a mix of Hollywood ideas and original Greek mythology. This new version similarly takes its own liberties with the myths and makes its own additions. A major new change is the addition of Hades to the story. He’s the driving force behind the conflict this time around and it does fit the original mythology to some degree. I think casting Liam Neeson as Zeus and Ralph Fiennes as Hades worked quite well. It was in the middle of one of their scenes together that I realized they were reunited from “Schindler’s List,” and you just have to laugh at little at the fact that they are now dressed as Greek gods. But overall it works.

As for the rest of the casting, Sam Worthington makes a good Perseus considering the script he was given. If you want someone tough with a chip on his shoulder, Worthington fits the bill. Alexa Davalos is also good as Andromeda, but she’s barely in the movie. Gemma Arterton is in the film a lot more as Io and she does a fine job with what she’s given.

Overall, I think there were a lot of missed opportunities with this “Clash of the Titans” remake. First of all, I think the original version had a better script. In it, Perseus falls in love with Andromeda, marries her, and then goes on his quest to save her and the city. It’s a much more classic, romantic tale. This time around Perseus is simply pissed off, thumbing his nose at the gods, and out for revenge. In fact, he has no romantic interest in Andromeda whatsoever. Their final scene together is incredibly unsatisfying.

The original script had better pacing, too. The quest was neatly laid out and made a lot more sense. Here, everything seems random and rushed. Literally in the space of 5 minutes Perseus is trained in swordfighting, gets a gift of a sword from Zeus, finds Pegasus, and has his first encounter with Calibos. It didn’t flow smoothly.

This new script seems all about emphasizing that the humans are sick and tired of following the gods. And if you didn’t get that, you’re reminded of it every couple of minutes. It’s a theme that’s driven into the ground to the point you start feeling the movie has a distinctly atheistic tone. Yet there are bits of the script that seem inconsistent with this established theme. For example, in one scene a soldier tells Perseus that he should use the gifts that the gods gave him to save the day. In a scene a few minutes later that soldier says he wants to ‘spit in the eye of the gods.’ Huh? And through the whole movie Perseus says he wants to be human and not like the gods. Yet instead of falling in love with the human Andromeda (like in the myth), he falls in love with fellow demi-god Io. It’s inconsistent.

I also felt some characters were underused. Besides Andromeda being barely in the movie, I thought Calibos was really a waste. In the original movie Calibos was driven by jealousy since he was the former fiancĂ© of Andromeda and the gods cursed him. He was the complete opposite of Perseus and that jealousy is what drove him to foil Perseus’ quest. In this new version he’s Perseus’ stepfather and he only pops up twice to attack the adventurers. There’s nothing more to his character. You could have cut him from the movie and it would have made no difference to the core story. The addition of the new Jinn character was also unnecessary, as he added nothing to the plot. The same is true with two warriors who functioned as little more than a weak attempt at adding comic relief.

There were other scenes in the movie that simply did not work. For example, our heroes battle the giant scorpions only to later actually ride them in a caravan. It didn’t work. There’s also a hippie religious zealot in Argos that spends much of the film ranting and raving. In the grand finale, the awesome scenes of the Kraken are mixed with scenes of this religious nut freaking out. It drove me crazy. And while the movie wisely cut Bubo the mechanical owl from this version, he does make a brief cameo as a joke. In some respects it’s amusing, but it really didn’t fit in this film. It should have been an Easter Egg on a DVD.

As you can see through this entire review I compared the new version of “Clash of the Titans” to the original again and again. I think my love for the earlier film definitely biased my review. But as we walked out of the theater, I found that the people who had never seen the original film liked this new one a whole lot better than the people that were fans of the original. So if you haven’t seen it, then I think you have a much better chance of enjoying it. But I still recommend that fans of the original check it out. It’s kind of like seeing a new production of a favorite play of yours. It’s always interesting to see how it is reinterpreted by someone else.

The Extras:
You’ll find the following bonus features on the Blu-ray:

Sam Worthington: An Action Hero For The Ages – This featurette highlights Worthington and the fact that he did many of his own stunts. The cast and crew praise him for his efforts while Leterrier talks about how concerned Worthington was with the character and his motivations.

Alternate Ending – In this alternate ending, Perseus saves Andromeda and as they are washed up on the beach, their romance is hinted at. Perseus then leaves Andromeda and rides Pegasus to Mount Olympus. There the pint sized Perseus confronts a gigantic Zeus. He tells off the miffed Zeus, threatens him, then storms out as the movie ends. I liked the fact that they add to the romance between Perseus and Andromeda. But I hate the fact that they furthered the human vs. god plotline. Zeus was proud of Perseus in the myth and he certainly wouldn’t have tolerated any mortal telling him off.

Maximum Movie Mode – I personally don’t like these “Maximum Movie Mode” features. I like my extras separated from the film, not intertwined with them. Despite that, the main featurettes from this mode can be viewed separately. You’ll find featurettes on shooting in the Canary Islands, the creation of Medusa, the CG for the Kraken, Calibos, and more. Almost everything you’d have interest in is covered in these featurettes. And if you watch the movie in “Maximum Movie Mode,” you can see even more behind the scenes footage including the creation of the Stygian Witches (who are actually men), the creation of Argos, and more.

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