Clash of the Titans (1981)

With one minute of teaser trailer footage, the 2010 Clash of the Titans remake has firmly grabbed a hold of my youthful nostalgia and nearly made me frothing with desire to see this film in March. This is not because I thought that the original was lacking, but rather that 1981's Clash of the Titans holds up as great adventure tale whose film techniques could use a 21st-century treatment.

1981's Clash was a "big-budget" film using stop-motion animation, the premiere technology at the time for special-effects. While stop-motion animation is still in broad use today, it is relegated to animated films; CGI effects have all-but replaced the technology for realistic effects. Although it was obvious back in '81 that the Krakon was a big clay sculpture, it was enough for the time to get absorbed in the film. Today, watching the piece, it is a lot more noticeable as times have changed and we are used to digital characters that seamlessly integrate with real ones.

What sets Clash apart is the execution of a gang-buster story. Interweaving dozens of classic Greek mythological heroes, gods, and villains, the story still resonates with urgency and menace. One of the classic scenes involves Perseus' confrontation with Medusa, the Gorgon who cannot be looked upon without turning to stone. Perseus must use all his wits and skill to defeat an opponent who has acidic blood, a marksman's skill with arrows, and a face that literally could kill. It's obviously claymation at work, but the scene still to this day carries palpable menace and tension throughout.

The legacy, and challenge, of this remake is to take what was once great and make it great again for a new audience. It's probably the easiest upgrade I can think of; you've got the story, now all you've got to do is throw in some one-liners and adjust the action. And maybe lose the comic-relief gold owl.

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