Thursday, March 18, 2010

Clash of the Trite Ones

That's flavor-of-the-month Sam Worthington, late of Avatar in his next blockbuster role as Perseus in the upcoming remake of Clash of the Titans.

Your Uncle P is (sadly) old enough to have seen the original 1981 Desmond Davis version on the big screen. I saw it with my sister and we were both very excited. We grew up on movies featuring the amazing stop-motion special effects of the master, Ray Harryhausen. The movie starred a little-known stage actor named Harry Hamlin as Perseus and a slew of former A-listers which included Maggie Smith, Claire Bloom, Ursula Andress and Burgess Meredith. It also starred the incomparable Laurence Olivier at what is assuredly the nadir of his long and illustrious career.

Much like Disney's animated Hercules, the story is a total bastardization of the Greek mythology. In this version, Perseus must rescue the princess Andromeda from the clutches of the evil Calibos, assisted by the mechanical owl, Bubo (a lame attempt to attract kids who loved the the chirping, whistling droid R2D2 from Star Wars). Perseus tames the wild, winged horse Pegasus; battles the snake-headed Medusa and even fights a Kraken (a beast from Norse mythology!). The script, by Beverly Cross (Jason and the Argonauts) is ridiculous (why would one impose Norse mythology on a movie about Greek mythology?); the acting is laughable and the special effects? Well... let's just say they're not-so-special. Yet, somehow, it's become a classic. I suspect it's because most of the people who love it were children when they saw it and their memories of it probably don't live up to the actual thing. I was 20 when it came out and my sister was 14. Both of us immediately saw through its nonsense and declared it "Clash of the Trite Ones," a name we still use for the movie. See for yourself:

Hamlin was almost pretty then, wasn't he?

Of course, Hollywood, being the unimaginative pit of crap it's become in the last 30 years, felt the need to remake this steaming pile of cinematic excrement, using modern CGI and 3D. This time, Worthington takes on the role of Perseus, and a whole new cast of former A-listers are on hand, including Ralph Fiennes; Liam Neesom; Pete Postlethwaite and my current favorite vampire, Danny Huston.

Bigger and louder, though I fear equally as stupid, Clash of the Titans is due for release in IMAX 3D on April 2nd, despite what that trailer says. Will I see it? Probably. I've always been a sucker for Sword & Sandal & Sorcery epics. And I have two Re-Admit passes from Avatar being snowed out. Though I doubt I will like it any better than the original. Maybe someday someone will make a movie that's actually true to the old mythological tales. I suppose someone other than myself must own a copy of Bulfinch's Mythology. But I'm not holding my breath...

More, anon.


Anonymous said...

How about you writing it?

Anonymous said...

ps. is your review of Ugly Americans going to be post here or in The Zombie Zone?

Stephen said...

Harry Hamlin's Clash Of The Titans had the Husband & I all horned up (we were puppies). I continued to have a thing for Harry since. By coincidence- today is Harry's co-star- Ursula Andress's birthday.

I spent an hour with Joan Plowright once, but I couldn't bring myself to ask her about Lord Olivier's work in Titan, or his paycheck for that matter.

Love the photo you in your Red Dress from Torchsong Trilogy... lucky you! I bet you were tres fab in that role!

Prospero said...

Thanks,Sean. Maybe I will. And I haven't had a chance to see "Ugly Americans," yet. I'll have to watch it online.

Stephen - thanks. That dress was a nightmare. It had glitter embedded inteh fabric and I had three minutes to get out of it, shower and get back onstage in regular clothes. I loved playing that part, but between the costume change and teh length of the show, I was exhausted...