Clash of the Titans: A hero's journey continues

At the end of the 2010 remake Clash of the Titans you have the feeling that a fully realized world has been created were many new stories can be told with memorable characters and beautiful realistic production design. 

Everything about this remake is an improvement on the 1981 original. The visual effects department of course has taken full advantage of the digital revolution that has taken place since 1981 and this is the perfect type of film to showcase those effects. The original was already an effects heavy film back in 1981 when it was released in the same week as Raiders of the Lost Ark. But this being a very low budget film Ray Harryhausen was hired to do his signature stop-motion animation old school style. This was the last film that Ray Harryhausen worked on using his once very popular stop-motion technique that made such films as 20 Million Miles to Earth (1957), Jason and the Argonauts (1963), The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958), The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1973) and Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger (1977) so popular.

Laurence Olivia, Harry Hamlin, Maggie Smith, Clair Bloom and Ursula Andress have been replaced by Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Gemma Arterton, Sam Worthington and the late Pete Postlethwaite. The new film is faithful to the original but has a much more international feel with a cast and locations from around the world. Filming took place in Tenerife the Canary Islands, Malta, Italy, Wales, England and Ethiopia.

There are many memorable action sequences from the original that fan boy director Louis Leterrier, who also directed The Incredible Hulk (2008), wanted to retain for the new film but needed updating for a modern audience. Some of the best and well known of these new updated scenes are the God's temple on Mt. Olympus, the Scorpioch battle, Medusa’s cave temple battle and the awesome Kraken sequence. In between we get an array of other worldly and mythological creatures from Hades and the Hades effect, winged half-simian bat like flying harpies, Calibos the deformed king, the Stygian witches, Pegasus the flying horse, and the Djinn who are ancient sorcerers living in the desert. 

What I really liked about this new movie was the beautiful realistic depiction of mythical places like Mt. Olympus and the ancient city of Argos. The Greek city of Argos was beautifully rendered digitally as a massive complex of structures built into the side of a sea-side cliff that was filmed in a place called Los Gigantes, Tenerife in the Spanish Canary Islands using ancient structures filmed in Italy to make up the City. The God’s home on Mt. Olympus was rendered as a wide open round hall with the floor completely open and looking down on a satellite image of the earth from space complete with clouds and realistic topography.

There is a travelogue type sequence in the film depicting our heroes as they journey on the backs of the Scorpiochs across different landscapes on their way to find the Stygian witches and ultimately Medusa's cavernous temple. The photography in that sequence is breathtaking as we are treated to stunning vistas that were filmed in exotic locations all over the world and adds an epic feel to the journey.

Clash of the Titans is a classic tale of the hero’s journey. Perseus played by Sam Worthington, recently from Terminator Salvation (2009) and Avatar (2009), is born a demigod son of Zeus, half human half god, and must find a way to stop Hades from destroying the city of Argos and awakening the fearsome Kraken, a mythic sea creature that lives in an underwater sea cave. Along the way he obtains a loyal following of men, sorcerers and gods who help him fulfill his destiny. Perseus is tested with trials and given magical weapons before he finally confronts Hades and the enormous Kraken. 

The climactic Kraken sequence improves on the original in every way and does not disappoint. The original sequence was quaint but did not have the scale and realism of this new updated version. Now the Kraken sequence is truly awesome in scale and realism and excitingly filmed and edited. It shows not only the Kraken but also street level action in the city of Argos while Perseus is flying through both Kraken tentacles and Argos streets on his flying horse Pegasus.

Here’s hoping we get more films in this promising franchise. What? They’re already working on it?

Wrath of the Titans, the sequel to Clash of the Titans is now being filmed in Tenerife Spain as I write this. This is exciting news. Jonathan Liebesman, who also directed this year’s excellent Battle: Los Angeles, has replaced director Louis Leterrier, but the cast and crew from Clash of the Titans are mostly all back including Liam Neeson as Zeus, Ralph Fiennes as Hades, Sam Worthington as Perseus and Danny Huston as Poseidon. The new film is due for release on March 30, 2012.

The following is an official summary of the storyline from Warner Bros. Pictures

‘A decade after his heroic defeat of the monstrous Kraken, Perseus-the demigod son of Zeus-is attempting to live a quieter life as a village fisherman and the sole parent to his 10-year old son, Helius. Meanwhile, a struggle for supremacy rages between the gods and the Titans. Dangerously weakened by humanity's lack of devotion, the gods are losing control of the imprisoned Titans and their ferocious leader, Kronos, father of the long-ruling brothers Zeus, Hades and Poseidon. The triumvirate had overthrown their powerful father long ago, leaving him to rot in the gloomy abyss of Tartarus, a dungeon that lies deep within the cavernous underworld. Perseus cannot ignore his true calling when Hades, along with Zeus' godly son, Ares (Edgar Ramírez), switch loyalty and make a deal with Kronos to capture Zeus. The Titans' strength grows stronger as Zeus' remaining godly powers are siphoned, and hell is unleashed on earth... Written by Warner Bros. Pictures’  


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