Friday, March 26, 2010

The coming clash...

I've stated before I've come to disdain Hollywood's trend of churning out remakes. I refuse to talk about it until I'm blue in the face -- or type until my fingers turn the same color -- because how much can I say about it? Okay, I can say PLENTY about it! My concerns about Tinseltown's lack of creativity are starting to build again. Yep, another remake is coming. But for me and a lot of movie lovers, it isn't just any remake.

In 1981, I went with my family to see "Clash of the Titans" at the movie house. I didn't know much about it, being a young spud. I knew I loved certain kinds of movies, though, and what I did know about this film got me excited. Stop-motion animation, and call it 'antiquated' if you want, was IT back in the days before computers. I had seen the legendary "King Kong" on syndicated TV by then, as well as classics featuring the effects wizardry of Ray Harryhausen, like "The Golden Voyage of Sinbad". I just saw "The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms" again recently, and you really have to think about it to appreciate how much time and effort went into such truly special effects.

It showed how much effort went into "Clash of the Titans"...even today, if you let a kid of fairly competent memory retention see it with mindful parents (there's nudity in a couple of scenes, a first for a film like this!), they and their parents would be impressed by the visuals of the majestic Pegasus, fearsome Medusa, and the almighty crap-yo-pants sea monster called the Kraken. The Kraken itself was the centerpiece of the effects of the film, as much a payoff in this film as the T-Rex was in Steven Spielberg's "Jurassic Park". However, it could also be called KINO (Kraken In Name Only) yet not in a derogatory way, because it sure as hell didn't look like an oversized octopus as its name implied. It looked BETTER! And fans of the film like me can't kid the uninitiated: the special effects overpower the story and very nearly the actors, even with the likes of the late, great Sir Lawrence Olivier and Burgess Merideth, Harry Hamlin, and Maggie Smith in the cast. One can even say that the story was written exactly so Harryhausen and the filmmakers could make it one of the biggest films to feature stop-motion ever.

The film was indeed big...some critics weren't high on "Clash of the Titans", but audiences loved it. Ever since, it went on to legitimate 'classic' status among films. In this day and age of supposedly seamless computer imagery and effects (you still gotta suspend your disbelief, kids), this film was made in a day and age when physical props and sets were still in vogue and built by hand, and the feeling of seeing the ancient world come to life is more keenly felt here than in a more recent movie, like "300". For better or worse, however, since "Clash of the Titans" is a classic and its appreciation has been passed to younger fans since, it was almost inevitable it go through the potentially painful process of being remade.

And the time for that remake, whether we like it or not, is approaching fast. However, to its credit, "Clash of the Titans" is promising to be a very different animal from its inspiration. The creative forces behind the film, which include director Louis Leterrier, have affirmed themselves as having nothing but love for the original film. They even went to the legendary Ray Harryhausen himself for his input, which shows at least they have respect for their source material and those responsible for it. We've still got Perseus, illegitimate son of Zeus, leading the hero's charge, along with characters like Andromeda, Calibos and Cassiopeia. We know that monsters from the original, like giant scorpions and Medusa, will be back. So will the Kraken...and this Kraken is as different from the original beast as the 1981 version was from an ocotpus. Hades is the new villain, and the whole thing promises to be a bit darker in comparison to the original, even though the story is close to the same.

Nothing will change my love of the original "Clash of the Titans". The forces behind its remake seem to know they're in the shadow of something that fans across the world haven't stopped loving even could say that the Fantasy film might always have a place in films, just like Westerns. (As long as they're done right!) BUT! I've got my doubts. My biggest one is of the guy who plays Perseus...a good friend of mine, Momiji, said that Sam Worthington is pure crap as an actor, and nearly ruined another little film he was in. You might have heard of it, it's called "Avatar"? I haven't seen it yet, but I don't doubt my friend's judgment...he isn't the only one who thinks the guy can't act for shit. That's something I have to see for myself, but I don't doubt it's true. We've already been subjected to Keanu Reeves, and Sam might be following in his talent-lacking footsteps.

Regardless, I want to believe Leterrier and those behind the coming remake have the respect and creativity necessary to dodge the hurdles and pitfalls other filmmakers have all but ignored when it comes to making a good remake. Will this be the first good remake we've seen in a while? Even if it isn't, we've still got the classic to watch again, and it'll always be with us. The fact it's been remade period is proof.

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