CLASH OF THE TITANS:

Since the original 1981 version of this film proved to be the feature-length swan song of stop-motion animation from producer Ray Harryhausen (See sidebar below.), the sole reason for remaking the Greek mythology adventure would be to upgrade the special effects in this CGI era. They’re impressive enough even if there’s no visual reason to spend the extra money for those clunky 3-D glasses. It’s the subtle yet cerebral screenplay from Travis Beacham, Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi with its portrayal of deities as arbitrary types capable of raping your mom in one decade and protecting against formidable opponents in another that elevates it to slightly above average fare. Whether you pick up on this doesn’t really matter because the production and set design by Martin Lang as well as Peter Menzies’ cinematography carries this more tightly edited version on their capable shoulders. Ramin Djawandi’s musical score is properly stirring enough to ready the audience for that overblown theatrical moment when Liam Neeson’s (SCHINDLER’S LIST) Zeus yells, “Release the Kraken.” Most of this makes up for some odd narrative inconsistencies like why the “claw monsters” are trying to devour the protagonists in one scene and allowing them to ride on their backs as allies in the next. I also couldn’t figure out why the female demigod’s (Gemma Arterton) counterpart to Perseus (Sam Worthington) dies yet gets resurrected in a movie the very theme of which acts to deny such a possibility. Did I also mention that Zeus’s outfit looks like scraps cast off by the Tin Man in THE WIZARD OF OZ (1939)? Oh wait, I just did. However, I still enjoyed this film, which may or may not be any better than its predecessor, but it surely isn’t any worse than it by a long shot either. CRITIC’S GRADE: B-

COOL MOVIES FEATURING THE SPECIAL VISUAL EFFECTS OF STOP-MOTION WIZARD/PRODUCER RAY HARRYHAUSEN (1920- ): MIGHTY JOE YOUNG (1949), THE BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS (1953), IT CAME FROM BENEATH THE SEA (1955), EARTH vs. THE FLYING SAUCERS (1956), 20 MILLION MILES TO EARTH (1957), THE 7TH VOYAGE OF SINBAD (1958), MYSTERIOUS ISLAND (1961), JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS (1963), FIRST MEN IN THE MOON (1964), ONE MILLION YEARS B.C. (1966), VALLEY OF GWANGI (1969), THE GOLDEN VOYAGE OF SINBAD (1974), CLASH OF THE TITANS (1981)