This review is bound to ruffle a few feathers so I might as well just get it over with quick and painless band-aid style: The remake of 'Clash of the Titans' stinks.
Sure, I will admit there's probably some bias behind that statement, considering my affection towards the original 1981 version, but to be honest I was actually looking forward to a modern update of this film. After all, thirty years is a long time, and with so many advances in filmmaking there are countless things that couldn't have been done back then that can easily be accomplished now. Plus, as much as I do love the old Ray Harryhausen classic, I won't deny that the script is rough, the performances are wooden, and the special effects (as charming as they are) are a bit outdated for the time. I saw plenty of room for improvement. Sadly, though, what we get with this new reimagining is just more of the same--bad writing, stiff acting, and some really terrible effects. The only difference is now Warner has also managed to tear the heart and soul right out of it.
It seems everyone is in dire need of anger management in ancient Greece. The soldiers of Argos are angry at the gods, and decide to take out their frustrations by defiling a statue of Zeus (Liam Neeson). The gods in turn, don't appreciate the disrespect mankind is showing their deities, so a furious Hades (Ralph Fiennes)--God of the Underworld, lashes out with his own brand of punishment. When the dust settles, one of the only survivors is Perseus (Sam Worthington), an innocent bystander who was fishing with his adopted family nearby and ended up getting caught in the middle of the chaos. Now with his parents and sister gone, Perseus is steaming--and vows to avenge their deaths.
Perseus doesn't have to wait very long to get the opportunity he's after, though, when King Kepheus (Vincent Regan) and Queen Cassiopeia (Polly Walker) involve themselves and their beautiful daughter Andromeda (Alexa Davalos) in some blasphemous behavior, and once again an enraged Hades returns to unleash his wrath. This time, Hades presents the kingdom with an ultimatum: sacrifice the princess in ten days at the height of the eclipse, or else his monstrous creation known as the Kraken will tear down Argos. This is also where it is revealed that Perseus is actually a demigod -- the son of Zeus himself. Although Perseus doesn't really give a rat's ass about his true heritage, the fate of the city, or what the ladies really think about his crew cut, as soon as he learns from a mysterious immortal named Io (Gemma Arterton) that Hades will be ripe for a beatdown if his sea beast is destroyed -- he quickly signs up for adventure. Time's a wastin' so he better get Kraken.
Right at the very beginning of the Maximum Movie Mode included on this disc, director Louis Leterrier raves that he loves the original movie, though he only saw it once. Apparently his reason is because his goal wasn't to do a "remake," but to go back and recapture the original myths. Well, that is just a load of hyperbole, because not only did he and writers Travis Beacham, Phil Hay, and Matt Manfredi in fact essentially remake the 1981 film by keeping most of that film's creative liberties intact like Calibos, the scorpions, and the Kraken (which is a sea creature from Norse legends by the way), the new elements aren't even from the tales of Perseus, they're from other myths. Let's see… we have harpies from 'Jason and the Argonauts,' djinn from Arabian Nights lore (ie: 'The 7th Voyage of Sinbad'), and Io is actually from the tales of Prometheus -- but hey, I guess that kind of sounds like Perseus. And bringing in Hades as the new antagonist to replace Thetis feels like a decision made solely based on Disney familiarity rather than common sense, as why would the God of the Underworld have anything to do with a sea monster? Couldn't they have found a way to piss off Poseidon? Anyway, my point is, I would have been all for a retelling that goes back to the source, but Leterrier didn't do that here.
Even so, these things could have been overlooked if the movie was at least entertaining, and you would think it would be considering the movie is pretty well non-stop action within its tight 106-minute runtime. Unfortunately, it's composed entirely of dull action. The fight scenes are filmed with an amateurish shaky-cam technique so you can't see what the hell is happening, and they lack any sort of tension or excitement. The worst of it is the entire Medusa sequence, and it is flat out embarrassing for a 2010 film with a budget well over $120 million. Here is a monster that doesn't need much mobility since A) she can turn her victims to stone merely with her gaze and B) Perseus and company must go to her anyhow. Yet someone had the ridiculous idea to have her zip around her lair almost as if to maintain the same frenetic pacing as the rest of the film. It's so bad it reminded me of 'Anaconda'--complete with shoddy 1997 CGI to match.
Worse still, none of the characters are developed properly, and the actors can only do so much with the little non-action screen time they have and the awful material they were given. Neeson could make an alright Zeus, but the character in this film is so wishy-washy that he doesn't come anywhere close to having a godlike presence. Ralph Fiennes is basically left to doing his impression of Gollum (doing his impression of Gandalf). And for being the main hero, Sam Worthington doesn't do a damn thing to make us care about him--as Perseus is portrayed as a cold vengeful douche. A douche who gives one of the most pitiful and self-demoralizing speeches I've ever heard.
When it all boils down, this new 'Clash of the Titans' does have a few redeeming qualities in that there are effects that do work well (Pegasus' wings, parts of the Kraken that weren't rushed, etc.) and the scenery can be quite nice, but those aren't enough to save this mess. It's just another case of a movie that could've been spectacular in the hands of the right director, and in the wrong hands... *cough* Louis Leterrier *cough*, this mindless action flick is so mindless that it's already forgotten itself.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Warner Brothers summons 'Clash of the Titans' onto a BD-50 Blu-ray disc housed inside a standard blue keepcase. There are forced previews for Warner Brothers Blu-ray and Digital Copy, since Warner loves annoying the hell out of their customers with completely pointless advertising. My screener copy also came with a slipcover, as well as a DVD/Digital Copy that may not be included in later pressings. The disc itself is reported to be region free and therefore should function properly in all PlayStation 3 and standalone players.
As you are probably aware, 'Clash of the Titans' was knee deep in controversy when it arrived in theaters earlier this year. As soon as Warner took notice that the 3D screenings of 'Avatar' were proving to be a monumental success, they decided to follow suit by jumping on the 3D bandwagon. The only thing is James Cameron's film was specifically shot in 3D using the latest state-of-the-art technology, while Warner merely tacked on a 3D conversion (at the eleventh hour no less), so needless to say moviegoers weren't very impressed with the half-assed results. Warner's Blu-ray release fortunately leaves the shoddy 3D behind and only presents the film in 2D, though that doesn't mean this 1080p/VC-1 (2.35:1 aspect ratio) encode doesn't come without its own fair share of technical hiccups.
The transfer does benefit from a strong sense of three-dimensionality, and although the palette consists mainly of warm neutral hues, there are still many strokes of eye-catching vibrancy peppered throughout the film. The forest where Perseus first encounters the herd of pegasi is filled with bright and lush greenery, and the clothing is often adorned with rich golds and bold maroons. Blacks are consistently solid with adequate shadow detailing, while whites can be uber-clean. Fine detailing and texturing is quite sharp in the various backdrops of mountainous terrain, the stone pillars of Medusa's lair, and even in the fabrics of the gaudy costumes. Facial close-ups are often super revealing, too--from intricate human elements like pores, facial hair, and wrinkles, to skin caked with dirt and grime. I also didn't notice any artifacts or much in terms of banding in this very stylized presentation.
Where the transfer takes a hit, though, is with a few issues stemming from digital tampering, and others possibly with the source. Grain and noise are nonexistent, which isn't necessarily bad, but it does look like the image has been treated with a moderate amount of DNR. Some scenes are softer in places, and there are times where flesh tones can appear waxy. Contrast is a tad weak, edge enhancement is prevalent here, and the image does suffer from periodic ringing. Halos and lens flares are a common occurrence as well, and certain sections of a handful of scenes tend to be a little more out of focus than the norm.
With all that being said, 'Clash of the Titans' still has a fairly good-looking transfer for the most part and I'm sure there will be viewers who may even rate the visuals of this Blu-ray slightly higher, but those who are put off by over-processing might be a little disappointed with this presentation.
'Clash of the Titans' defaults to a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix and it's another solid audio presentation from Warner.
Since this remake is basically just a chain of anger-fueled action sequences loosely held together by brief interludes of exposition, this is, understandably, a very aggressive mix. Bass is extremely active--from the toppling of Zeus' statue, gigantic scorpions plowing through desert rubble, to, of course--the emergence of the Kraken. This climactic sequence is easily the highlight of the disc, as crashing tidal waves sweep through the streets of Argos and enormous tentacles bring destruction all around the listening area.
As for the rest of the mix, the original and rather forgettable score by Ramin Djawadi has a wide presence throughout the soundstage, and subtle ambient sounds spread to the rear channels. Dialogue is also very clean and distinguishable--well, except for when the Djinn leader speaks that is--and is never overshadowed by the thunderous bass or music.
Even though the movie doesn't deliver the goods, at least the soundtrack sure does.
The Blu-ray also includes alternate Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks in French, Spanish, and Portuguese, as well as optional English SDH, French, Spanish, and Portuguese subtitles.
The remake of 'Clash of the Titans' may be an epic retelling of a classic adventure, but as far as I'm concerned. it's also an epic misfire on all accounts--as it is the product of terrible writing, bland action, dull performances, and even some pretty horrendous CGI work. If you've already seen the movie and liked it, then you should be pleased with the good video, strong audio presentation, and decent supplemental package that includes a slightly watered down version of Warner's superb Maximum Movie Mode on this Blu-ray. But if you haven't seen the movie yet and are considering a blind buy, then by the gods -- rent it first. I'm just going to stick with the dated, but far better original.
Portions of this review also appear in our coverage of Dunkirk on Blu-ray. This post features unique Vital Disc Stats, Video, and Final Thoughts sections.