Review in a Hurry: Like its 1981 predecessor and other mythology-based monster epics from effects guru Ray Harryhausen (Jason and the Argonauts, The 7th Voyage of Sinbad), this new Clash is basically an excuse to string together a fun series of big beastie battles in ancient Greece. Where it falters a bit is the story: The screenwriters seem to think they can improve upon classic mythological tales, but they're wrong.
The Bigger Picture: In this revisionist telling of Greek legend, humankind is beginning to rebel against the capricious gods of Mount Olympus, so the angry Hades (Ralph Fiennes, apparently with laryngitis) gets the blessing of big brother Zeus (Liam Neeson) to whup some mortal ass. Little does Zeus know, Hades has a bigger scheme in motion: Terrorized by monsters, including the Kraken, mortals will hate and fear the gods even more. This is a boon to the underworld god, who thrives on such emotions, but Zeus needs prayer and love to stay strong. Stir up human anger enough, and he'll be vulnerable to a hostile takeover from below.
Caught in the middle is Perseus (Sam Worthington), illegitimate son of Zeus, who has his own grudge against Hades for killing his adoptive parents. Told by immortal beauty Io (Gemma Arterton) that killing the Kraken may weaken Hades enough for him to be harmed, Perseus sets out to do so on a quest that involves serpent-haired Medusa (Natalia Vodianova), giant scorpions, Hades' deformed disciple Calibos (Jason Flemyng), and wooden Djinn of the Deus Ex Machina tribe. All in after-the-fact 3-D, which isn't awful but also ain't worth the extra ticket premium, since the only thing that really pops out is the end credits.
Children of the '80s tend to have fond memories of the original Clash of the Titans, yet for its day, it was almost exactly the equivalent of modern mindless blockbusters. Looking at it objectively, it is fun, but really little more than an effects showcase and an amusing game of spot-the-stunt-casting. That the stop-motion monsters are seen as somehow more charming than the newer digital ones seems merely emblematic of a general lack of respect for computer animators, relative to those who worked with tangible models.
So while there's much that can be mocked here, the new battles are just as fun in their own way—the scorpions in particular are awesome. This is Clash by way of Lord of the Rings, Todd McFarlane action figures and God of War: The eye candy is phenomenal!
Unfortunately, Perseus is a bit of a jerk in this version. Far from the noble hero who wanted to marry the princess and save the city in the original, he's now simply on a personal vendetta. Said princess is a total afterthought as a character, and new love interest Io, who might as well be renamed Little Miss Exposition, is kinda icky when you stop to think about the fact that she's been watching over Perseus since his infancy.
The 180—a Second Opinion: Calibos' new origin and lack of tail is a big bummer, as is the bizarre way in which the wild, winged horse Pegasus is referred to as "The Pegasus" and doesn't need any taming.
But enough about the ancient Greek gods! Check out today's Hollywood movie gods in our Totally New Releases gallery.