The next title that I dove into for the Myths, Legends and Fairy Tales chapter of DK Canada’s highly enjoyable Monsters in the Movies book was doomed for me from the moment of it’s inception. The remake of 1981’s Harryhausen effects driven classic was never going to wow me.
Gone are the practical effects and model work that made the original such a joy, replaced with what now looks like pretty shoddy computer generated images. Sure, the film boasts a pretty top tier cast (though nowhere near some of the Hollywood royalty who lent their talents to the original); Sam Worthington takes on Perseus, Liam Neeson as Zeus, Ralph Fiennes as Hades, Jason Flemyng as Calibos, Gemma Arterton as Io, Alexa Davalos as Andromeda, Mads Mikkelsen as Draco and Liam Cunningham as Solon.
And while the story follows pretty close to the story line of the original film, and perhaps the myth, it’s not above taking cheap shots at the original, most obviously one aimed at the charming robotic owl, Bubo.
It attempts to be big and epic, and the cast give it their all, but it just doesn’t feel like it works. The story is a little uneven, but honestly, it’s the effects that cause the most problems. the creature effects need a little but more in the way of practical work.
Yes, there are some nice locations, good costumes, and designs… but without a good script to hang the idea on, well, it just isn’t going to work is it? The charm of the original, which arguably isn’t the best film but it just seemed to enjoy itself so much, seems to be missing from this one, trying to take itself as seriously as it can, despite the trappings of the story.
It doesn’t really succeed.
Which is too bad.
I personally think there’s a combination of the original and remake that would be completely captivating, and entertain audiences, but separately neither one is as strong as it could be, though I know which one I would rather watch.
It seems kind of sad that the writers felt they had to jazz up the story a little without giving us fully realized characters. Instead the film is reduced to barely passable popcorn spectacle that is easily forgotten, and consequently won’t have the enduring legacy of the original.
And that’s the beauty of remakes. If you don’t like them you can always go back to the original, and most times better, source material. But hey, DK Books’ Monsters in the Movies set the challenge for me as I explore this fantastical chapter, and it was fun to give this film another chance, and reassuring to see that my original diagnosis of it was correct.
They can’t all be winners, but if you pick up a copy of Monsters in the Movies you will no doubt find something fun and macabre to watch tonight!