The idea behind The Public Movie Defender is to take up the cause of a particular movie that I believe is better than the majority of reviews it has received. These are movies which I feel are worth either a second look or at least a more open examination considering the predominantly negative opinions of them. The films chosen are ones that I like so therefore I’m taking their case and defending them before the court of negative opinion. Let the trial begin…
DEFENDANT #3 – “Clash of the Titans” (2010)
When I first came up with the idea for this fun little thing called The Public Movie Defender there were several movies that immediately came to mind for inclusion. Some are personal favorites that I am deeply passionate about and others are simply movies that I feel are good yet that get pounded a bit unfairly. Some aren’t that difficult to defend while others are a REALLY hard sell. 2010’s remake of “Clash of the Titans” is one of those hard sells. And while I wouldn’t categorize it as a personal favorite, I do think it’s a good movie that doesn’t deserve the level of disdain it has received.
“Clash of the Titans” had its work cut out for it. It’s a remake of a cult classic from 1981 that featured a wonderful fantasy adventure as well as the final work of stop-motion special effects master Ray Harryhausen. This time advanced makeup and a ton of CGI would serve to bring the world to life and that in itself was quite the task. While my deep affection for Harryhausen’s brilliance trumps the new computer effects, this “Clash of the Titans” features some fantastic effects that easily overshadows the few visual hiccups that we get.
And then there’s the story. There were two different approaches that the remake could have taken. The film could have taken a grittier and more serious look at the material or it could try and capture many of the nostalgic elements of the original. By that I mean the over-the-top language, the massive cheese, the classic fantasy movie plot dynamics. The filmmakers made a deliberate choice to modernize the story a bit but also tip their hat and incorporate a lot of these late 1970’s and 1980’s approaches to fantasy storytelling.
I think this is what alienated some people. I think this clashed with people’s familiarity with modern filmmaking and current cinematic storytelling that we get today. Personally I ate it up. The stilted and uber cheesy dialogue along with several old school plot mechanics brought back memories of the “Sinbad” films, “Ice Pirates”, “Conan”, and “Kull”. These are films that I grew up watching and I clearly see how the movie uses and embraces them. The great actors Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes ham it up as Zeus and Hades. Are they cheesy? Yes, more so than a pizza. But they are supposed to be. I completely understand if that doesn’t work for some people, but I don’t see it as a deep flaw in the movie itself. I responded to it with a nostalgic smile and appreciation.
Now it’s not like everything in the movie imitates the original. A tightly shorn Sam Worthington replaces a mop headed Harry Hamlin as Perseus. Some have had issue with Worthington’s character and performance. Not me. I like this grittier and more solemn turn. Considering all that his character faces I can understand him being a bit angry and coarse. I think Worthington brings a toughness and physicality to the role that I welcomed. Add to that an interesting and fun supporting cast of traditional survival-fantasy characters (again a tip of the hat to those old-school flicks). None are better than the great Mads Mikkelsen as the gruff and tough Draco, captain of the King’s Guard.
The movie features the classic fantasy tale. A quest is in place which takes Perseus and crew on a ‘who will survive’ adventure. Along the way they face threats such as witches, Medusa, and of course giant scorpions. And what a scene it is when the giant scorpions appear. Incredible visuals and a beautifully filmed sequence. And then there’s the Kraken. There’s perhaps nothing in this film ridiculed more than Liam Neeson’s command to “Release the Kraken”. And while I wouldn’t call it the equivalent of a great thespian’s oration, it’s not that bad of a line. Sure it’s absolute cheese, but the mockery was really fueled by the the line’s use in the trailers and TV spots. The Kraken itself looks cool and Neeson’s over-the-top unleashing fits in perfectly.
I believe that your opinion of this film will be dictated by expectations and preferences. It’s worth recognizing what the filmmakers are doing and the type of movie they’re making. I think they set a cool nostalgic target and hit it dead center. Now to be clear, I’m not saying this is a perfect film. But I really like what they did. It took me right back to those movies that I would lay in the floor and watch on Saturday afternoons. That made this a fun and entertaining experience and when considering the film in that light I see it as a success. The sequel was a massive disappointment, but for my money “Clash of the Titans” was a blast.
Sorry, I can’t agree with you here. I saw the movie and thought it was a mess and the cheesiness of the plot made me cringe. Though speaking of Sam Worthington’s haircut, how does he have a buzz cut in Ancient Greece?
Most don’t agree with me on this one. Personally I didn’t find this one any cheesier than the original classic. In fact I found that to be part of its charm. As for Worthington’s hair, I suppose they did it the same way they shaved their faces. I dunno, that detail just didn’t bother me much.
Hi Keith, I will side with you. 🙂 The original tale comes fondly from my time. It has been a personal favorite for decades. Therefore, when the remake came about, I was apprehensive. Yes, to all the critics’ complaints regarding cheese, but I don’t see how it’s any different than a lot of other fantasy greats out there with regard to the cheese. Banal, predictable dialogue is a major fault I have with many films put out today. What’s great about this film is the CGI update (I tend not to care much for it, either.). That is, the Kraken, Medusa was perfect, Calibos — scorpions, I was sold. The best was Zeus and especially Hades. The black cloud/spirits and their special effects up at Olympus was perfectly done. I also appreciated the entire female cast– Gemma Arterton’s Io helped soften the men’s exchanges as well Alexa Davalos as Andromeda. She had a face that could have launched a 1,000 ships, yes?
I suppose Sam Worthington was the weak link for me. As Perseus, it was hard to see him as the demigod. He was the same character from Avatar. No different. And it bothered me he looked more like a marine than Perseus. When the entire cast has long hair, it doesn’t look right to see a buzz cut. I missed Harry Hamlin’s curly locks 😉
I’m so glad to hear someone else shares my thoughts on it. It’s certainly not a perfect movie but I think it’s a lot better than many people give it credit for. I had a ton of fun with it.
Thanks for the comments Cindy.
Keith! I’d love your thoughts on my recent post about ‘The Machine’. Your opinion always matters on my blog. 😉
That’s too kind. Thanks Cindy. I definitely need to catch up with several of your posts. Traffic has been incredibly slow on my site. That mixed with a recent death in the family has kind of slowed down my movie conversation. But I’m getting back in the swing of things.
OH, I’m sorry, Keith. No worries, I just respect your opinon. God Bless during your difficult time.
Thanks Cindy. It was my mother-in-law. Really strong fight against cancer but she went down fast these last few weeks. Several things made it tougher. My wife is an only child so their relationship was very close. Also it was the first dealings with death for my kids, at least the death of someone very close to them.
😦 My kids had to deal with their father’s passing with cancer as young teenagers. I completly sympathize. I’m so sorry for your wife. I can’t imagine losing my mother and she’s 72.
Oh wow. I know that was tough. As for mothers, they really are special, aren’t they?
Nice defense. I didn’t think it was terrible, but not good either. I honestly thought it wasn’t cheesy enough and took itself too seriously. This caused it end up being dull. Combine that with he ultra bland Worthington and it just didn’t hold my interest.
The special fx are an interesting factor. I’ve only seen it at home in 2D and it looked great. However, one of the biggest complaints I’ve heard is how bad it looked in 3D. I’m sure that has something to do with how badly people perceive this to be. I thought the whole thing was “meh” but not terrible.
Thanks for the comments. I thought Worthington was pretty good. He was a lot more serious but he had good reason to be. He added a little more grit and less cheese but I thought some of the others made up for his lack of Velvetta. For me it’s just a fun fantasy throwback picture.
When it came out, the biggest criticism I remember was that the 3D conversion was bad and the film looked dark as a result. My only viewing was a late night catch of the last forty minutes or so. I barely remember it. Your points lead me to a hung jury outcome. A retrial might be called for
Oh yes, the 3D. It was a dreadful conversion. Totally pointless. I saw it twice in the theaters, once in 2D and once in 3D. The 2D was a much better experience.
Your defense is great! I saw this one when it first came out in theatres. It was just so messy. Nothing really flowed and even the characters weren’t really casted well. Its one of those movies that I really didn’t enjoy and never even gave it a second thought to revisit.
Thanks! I think a lot of people share your thoughts. Personally I enjoyed the action, the cheese, and the homages. That said I can see where some may not respond to it.
Still have not seen this movie, purely based on all the negativity surrounding it. Still planning to check it out, especially after reading your defines 🙂
It definitely got it share of negative reviews. I thought it was intentionally nostalgic. That’s one of the reasons I enjoyed it so much.
Defense i meant 😉
Just watched it. Not a favourite, but quite fun.
It’s definitely fun. For me it was an old school throwback movie. That scorpion battle – such a blast.
And the Medusa fight. And the fight with the Kraken.
“Release the Kraken.”
Ha! That’s right!