Monday, April 12, 2010

I was right about Clash of the Titans

A movie that earned a D+ from me really doesn't deserve further analysis, but I am so pleased that I nailed my review that I must share the good news. CHUD recently spilled the details on the original script that was filmed and then altered after principal photography had finished. I love reading about how any number of outside influences (studio, media, audience, expectations, etc.) can threaten the finished product of the film (like Indy IV and Frank Darabont's script). Remember in Elf when James Caan wanted to ship the children's book with pages missing because kids won't notice the difference? That's essentially what is playing out here, and Caan was right. Though people like me were bothered by the results, the movie opened at number 1 and remained there through two weeks.

Here's a quick recap of my faults with the movie:

1. It diverged from the myth in key areas (change is okay, but these changes sucked)
2. Most of the gods were useless
3. Both Zeus and Perseus' motivations were at odds with their actions.
3a. Zeus loves mankind and needs their worship, but pushes them towards fear and independence instead.
3b. Perseus is all about proving that mankind doesn't need the help of the goods... but then uses gifts from the gods in order to win.

Here's how the original film not only addressed these faults, but greatly improved upon them. THE FILM WOULD'VE BEEN MUCH COOLER AS A RESULT OF THIS!

1. In the original myth, Perseus goes on his adventure to save the princess Andromeda from sacrifice, and it serves two purposes. One, Perseus gets a dopey romance story with the princess. And two, it symbolizes his rebellion against the gods because no man or woman should be sacrificed to please the gods. After the rewrites and reshoots (all done after the film originally wrapped), Perseus goes on his adventure because he wants revenge against Hades for the murder of his family. His love interest is not the princess Andromeda, who is still almost sacrificed, but instead the warrior/demigod Io. This makes little sense for lots and lots of reasons, but I won't go into it because there are bigger problems.

END RESULT: The director said that the decision to move from a love to vengeance storyline was for a bigger connection with the audience. We are more likely to identify with family tragedy than a sweeping love story (translation: aimed at children...)

2. Poseidon, Apollo, and Athena all had much bigger roles in the original version, and the Olympian dynamic as a whole was drastically changed. Zeus should've been a bad guy with a bent and warped view of the human race. That's why Argos is lashing out against the big guy in the beginning of the story. The other gods are afraid this could lead to their doom, so they secretly aid Perseus in his quest to stop Hades (because they are also aware of Hades' powerplay against Zeus). A lot more screen time would've been spent on the quibbling politics on Olympus, and eventually the redemption of Zeus. Instead, only Zeus and Hades get to talk and Zeus is always a "good" guy (despite that whole rape thing).

END RESULT: We can only assume that again, a broader, younger audience wouldn't care about gods at court. They only care about CGI scorpion fights, right?

3a. This was one of my biggest beefs with the film, and it could've been sooooo much better. In the first draft of the movie, Zeus is a corrupt god and the cause of the human's suffering and discontent. That's why they turn against him, and that's why he turns to Hades for help. That's also why Zeus is at odds against his outcast son Perseus, who arrogantly believes that man can manage their own affairs. In the final draft, Zeus is a good guy clinging to his love for the humans that insist on rebelling. Out of desperation, he turns to Hades for help. And even though he's against Perseus' independence at first, he's just lucks into a happy alliance at the end. Barf.

3b. Here is where the movie falls apart. What should've happened is this: Perseus refuses the aid of the gods at first, but later recants for the good of the group. At the end of the movie, once evil is defeated, there's a cool scene where Perseus ascends to Olympus. Zeus thinks the bastard son has risen to join the ranks of the immortals, but instead, Perseus casts down the objects that helped him in his quest. He tells Zeus that his real father was the murdered fisherman, and he throws his lot in with the mortals. However, after the director-approved changes, Perseus just has a lame resolution scene with Zeus where it looks like their rocky relationship is all patched up because Perseus threw Hades back to... well, Hades.

END RESULT: Their fundamental motivations are compromised!!! In the final movie, Zeus' actions would never have been made by a sane, "good" Zeus because his beef with mankind is predicated on nothing. They only make sense if Zeus is a corrupt, mad god that is angry with mankind and wants to punish them!!! And Perseus is supposed to reject the gods at the end and hook up with the human princess, not buddy up with them and fall for a fellow demigod that's been brought back to life!!!!

A potentially great movie was brought down because a studio and it's director decided to water down the plot for mainstream audiences. If they added the extra 30-35 minutes to the movie, it would be another epic story like LOTR or Avatar, but that would mean fewer screenings and less money. Instead, they chose a route that meant shitty 3D, a diminished role for all of its supporting characters, and a plot that makes no sense to intelligent people. I stand by my D+ rating, though it definitely deserves worse.

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