published Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

Matinee Melee: ‘Clash’ remake a titanic mess

CASEY PHILLIPS: In preparation for this review, I watched the original “Clash” so I could compare the two. I needn’t have bothered, though, since the remake is so different in both tone and plot it might as well have a different name altogether. Director Louis Leterrier apparently decided modern audiences either didn’t remember the original or had fallen out of love with it. He was wrong.

The 1981 “Clash” was a lovable, campy romp that featured an annoying, animatronic owl and glassy-eyed performances by Harry Hamlin and Laurence Olivier. It was B-movie quality, no doubt, but endearingly so. The remake tries to be serious, which makes it unintentionally cheesy, a worse result by far.

The impressive special effects may be the only high point. Monsters like harpies and giant scorpions pop off the screen, and the environments are both diverse and absorbing.

HOLLY LEBER: Here’s my assessment of the 2010 incarnation as a stand-alone film:

Release the Kraken! No, no, don’t. Stop. Put the Kraken back. No one needs to deal with that.

Actually, the odd sea monster that looks like a cross between an octopus, a dinosaur and a human intestine is a good metaphor for Leterrier’s film as a whole: It’s sloppy, unwieldy and large. Like the Kraken, “Clash” basically flounders all over the screen. And while the director holds ultimate responsibility, the actors are not innocent either.

I don’t know where Sam Worthington hatched from, but he’s suddenly Mr. Sci-Fi Action Film ( “Clash,” “Avatar,” “Terminator”). If he would change it up a bit, even if he were horrible, I’d give him credit for trying. And Liam Neeson ... does anyone else have trouble taking him seriously as an actor anymore?

CASEY: Normally, I like Ralph Fiennes, but his Hades sounded like he had emphysema. It’s hard to respect a god who sounds like Wheezy, the penguin squeak toy from “Toy Story 2.” Ian Whyte is also about, playing a magician made out of wood for some reason. He’s explodes eventually. I don’t remember why, nor do I particularly care to.

HOLLY: Yeah, “care” is not a word that comes to mind. There were some funny moments, but I don’t think humor was intended as it was when the ’81 cult version came out. Attempts at intimacy were just mockery-inducing. The Mystery Science Theater robots would have had a field day. “Please return all seat backs, tray tables and libidos to their full upright and locked positions.”

CASEY: Remaking a cult classic without paying proper homage to what audiences loved about it is a quest doomed from the start. A truly titanic failure, I’d say.

HOLLY: Eh. I just don’t give a Kraken.

about Holly Leber ...

Holly Leber is a reporter and columnist for the Life section. She has worked at the Times Free Press since March 2008. Holly covers “everything but the kitchen sink" when it comes to features: the arts, young adults, classical music, art, fitness, home, gardening and food. She writes the popular and sometimes-controversial column Love and Other Indoor Sports. Holly calls both New York City and Saratoga Springs, NY home. She earned a bachelor of arts ...

about Casey Phillips...

Casey Phillips has worked as a features reporter in the Life department since May 2007. He writes about entertainment, consumer technology, animals and news of the weird. Casey hails from Knoxville and earned a bachelor of science degree in journalism and a bachelor of arts in German from Middle Tennessee State University, where he worked as the features editor for the student newspaper, Sidelines. Casey's writing has earned numerous accolades, including first and second place ...

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jabbo77 said...

I have to agree the new version sucked!!! I'd rather look at the 80's version anyday compared to that garbage that was supposedly to be a remake.

April 7, 2010 at 8:32 a.m.
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