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.
"Release the Kraken!" Ah, it could only be Clash of the Titans
, the 2010 remake that retains the instruction to unleash the great beastie from the sea. The 1981 original boasted Ray Harryhausen's legendary stop-motion technique of animating various mythological creatures--it was his final feature project--and given the cornball approach of the movie in general, that was the main draw. The remake supplies new state-of-the-art special effects (it was released in theaters in 3-D) and a nicely muscular sense of momentum. Sam Worthington (the Avatar
guy) plays Perseus, a demigod who doesn't know that Zeus (Liam Neeson) is his father. Perseus is selected to lead an expedition to find and slay the Medusa, lest Zeus's evil brother Hades (Ralph Fiennes, in fine slinking mode) rain down misery upon a seaport--and you just know that means the Kraken is coming. Ye gods, it's a mess, and we haven't even mentioned the witches and the harpies and the giant scorpions. But if we did, it would be clear that Clash of the Titans
is a perfectly dandy popcorn epic, unpretentious and punchy. Director Louis Leterrier (Transporter 2
) gets a fine rhythm going during Perseus's trek, and you can even forgive the hokey shafts-of-light-through-clouds look of Olympus. Leterrier also had the good sense to import the marvelous Danish star Mads Mikkelsen to provide mentoring duties to Perseus; Gemma Arterton and Alexa Davalos fulfill the eye-candy roles. It's up to individual viewers to choose which they prefer--Harryhausen's magically hand-wrought creations (his Medusa sequence is an absolute killer) or the 21st century's slick computer-generated variations. But nostalgia aside, it would be hard to deny that this is one case where the remake tops the original. --Robert Horton