Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Essentials- "Clash of the Titans" (1981)

The Essentials-#14

Clash of the Titans

There are many of you who saw the "Clash of the Titans" remake back in 2010, which starred Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes. And you also may remember that it was a pile of steaming crap. A complete betrayal from the original source material. I can't even begin  to discuss how much better the original is compared to the remake, but I'll try and explain it.

The original "Clash of the Titans" has so much more going for it than the remake. First of all, our hero Perseus (Harry Hamlin) goes on several epic quests. From solving a riddle to have the hand of a desirable princess Andromeda (Jodi Bawker) to finding a way to save her life from the death of the last Titan, Kraken. The original film is filled to the brim with adventure. Instead of Perseus being motivated by vengeance (a tired cliche) Perseus in this original is motivated by love. This particular motivation I think is sadly has been absent in film for too long. Our pop culture nowadays is headlined by darkness, and I really think that's too bad. 

I love mythology at a near primal level, so seeing something this awesome, epic and beautiful just makes me swoon. The creature work in this film may look silly by today's standards but I feel its still better than any of the CGI featured in the 2010 remake. I felt the scene with Medusa was much more tense and scary in the original, Medusa moves slowly, the make-up crude. Its a great and horrifying spectacle. There is more than one big scene involving the Kraken. And both times we see him it is pretty awesome. The creature work was all done by the late Ray Harryhausen. Harryhausen died earlier this year and I talked about it. He spearheaded the rise of visual effects in Hollywood and this was some of his best work.

The cast is great. Watch for Maggie Smith from Harry Potter as Thetis, the goddess of water. Hamlin is wonderful as Perseus as is Bowker for Andromeda. Burgess Meredith, who played the Penguin in the old 1960's Batman series appears as Ammon, an eldery poet who helps Perseus at a crucial moment in the movie. Each actor embodies why I fell in love with mythology in the first place, these are grand and detailed performances. It is hard with coming up with just one.

Very little, does a movie successfully blend a sweet story with great visuals. I may love the visuals for more of a nostalgic reason, but there is no doubt the film's story sores like the Pegasus. 

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