Wednesday, April 7, 2010

REHASH of the Titans

I don't mean to sound like I'm on a flying high horse... but I told you so.

No, the remake of Clash of the Titans didn't entirely suck, but it had been a waste of time. As I had said in my other posts about it, there's no reason to do THAT story again. Greco-Roman mythology is rich in characters and objects and situations. And yet they chose to try and fix a movie that had not been broken. Oh sure, it's been repackaged with some parts taken out and other characters introduced as well as whole elements shuffled around. But ultimately, note for note, it's the same damn story... and therefore boring. No amount of high-budget effects could resurrect or recapture the glory of the original. Can it be chalked up to having been a kid when I first saw the original? I'll say no... since we'd just watched a good portion of it the other day (prior to seeing the remake) when showing it to a friend who'd never seen it. She'd been impressed, by the way. This new movie, though full of energy, is a lackluster blockbuster.

Here's a question: Why are the other gods even depicted in this film? It turned into the Hades (an addition) and Zeus show. Seriously. Apollo has a line and the other gods/goddesses are shown but never even called by name. From just watching the movie, we have NO idea which lovely lady is Aphrodite and which is Athena. (Oops.) No arguing with Zeus, no conspiring while Zeus is not around, no interaction with the mortals, no Hephaestus tinkering to make the special sword. Nothing. The movie would have functioned just the same without them. A Greek Myth movie with no gods? Interesting. And I'm sorry, I really like Liam Neeson, I really do, but he's terrible in this movie. He has no command of the scene or the insight to the character, no presence. (Not a good thing for the King of the Gods.) And can somebody please give Hades a lozenge? Seriously... did he have to talk like that? Then there's his rivalry with and hatred of Zeus... oh sure, it's part of mythology in some cases... but we saw THIS story before as well. Disney's Hercules. Another rehash. And you know what? Disney prominently featured (and named) the gods quite well. Not to mention presenting the story better.

How did Perseus's mortal father know his name if he found/adopted him? He didn't know his identity and the only way to have "seus" at the end of your name is to be a son of Zeus.

Why could the giant scorpions (now from the blood of Calibos [also reconfigured entirely] and not Medusa) speedily advance toward the humans when fighting them, but have to go like snails when the Djinn enabled them to be ridden? (The new characters of the Djinn... a.k.a. "Hi! I'm a cute special effect and over-convenience to the plot and nothing more!")

And sadly...there's no need for Andromeda to be in this movie. Oh sure, she's interesting enough as a character here. But she's pointless other than her mother praising her beauty above Aphrodite (who, as you know, had no reaction.) Yes, yes, they need her for the sacrifice to the Kraken - except they don't. The Kraken is sent to destroy Argos to punish the mortals and does so anyway, regardless of Andromeda being strung up before him. Her sacrifice will save the town... her one life for the lives of everyone. It's supposed to cause rifts and fighting among the mortals as part of Hades's master plan. But this aspect is so played down it may as well not even have been in the film. Thus, the Kraken attacks and smashes much of the city regardless before Perseus comes with Medusa's head. Andromeda is barely in it and worthless to the story. I say that of the character only, not actress Alexa Davalos who did wonderfully. And Andromeda is not even the love interest of our hero. Nope...
...the love interest is Io. And I'm sorry, all I kept thinking is "You're supposed to be a cow." She is in mythology - turned into a cow by Hera for sleeping with Zeus. Not in THIS movie - she rejected the advance of a god and is doomed not to die. Okay, that's not actually a complaint, since the original film didn't follow Greek mythology to the letter either, shuffling and rewriting a bit. But truly, Io the Not-a-Cow is only here to serve as Bubo the Mechanical Owl Guide from the first film, who makes the briefest of cameos for no reason other than a lame joke.

I missed Ammon, the Burgess Meredith character, serverely.

And it had no ultra-creepy moments like the head of the statue coming to life.

We did so not need lines such as "Don't look the bitch in the eyes."

They wasted one of their best new lines/concepts by having it appear twice. Hades "shocks" Zeus by telling him that although he [Zeus] and the other gods draw power from the prayers and love from the humans, he [Hades] has learned to survive on their fear. Quite a great idea to add. But don't do it twice. When he says it again toward the end of the movie, it has no impact - it's rehashed.

I'll tell you - when a man riding a winged horse (a black Pegasus? [which, by the way, is his only distinction because there are plenty of white ones and he needs to be special {unlike the first time when he'd been the only winged horse left}]) is boring, you've got problems. When the Kraken attack falls flat and retreaded, you've got problems. Though, yes, I did like the Kraken redesign. But I really wish they'd not fully shown it in the trailers. If I didn't know what it looked like perhaps it would have been an exciting scene.

Nothing but amber/sepia. Maybe another reason it felt lackluster is due to no color in this movie. (Not literally, but for all intents and purposes.) It also had F/X for the sake of having F/X. Such as the gods leaving in wisps of light at Zeus's command so that he could have a talk with Hades which amounted ONLY to saying "Release the Kraken" as if the other gods needed to leave for that.

The one truly good part of the movie had been Medusa. Now THAT's a worthy update. Marvelously done. No offense to Ray Harryhausen but this Medusa kicked his Medusa's ass. However, to be absolutely fair - new snake-woman didn't scare us at all. She's fun in this film. Harryhausen's may have been slow and not slunk and twisted around columns and had fewer snakes in her hair but at least she'd been scary. At least there had been tension in the scene. The new version felt slick and cool - not claustrophobic and sinister like the original. As for the other other monsters - yeah, they're pretty good in the remake but they, too, still don't have the grandeur of the original movie.

Like the massive boat later named for them, this movie sank. But it might not have - if they'd used other stories. Here's hoping War of the Gods is the "updated" Greek Myth Movie we're been needing.

UPDATE:  War of the Gods has since been retitled The Immortals
A Myth Take?
Hit or Myth?

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