It’s been almost 30 years and a lot of things have changed. Perseus now begins as a humble fisherman, Princess Andromeda is no longer his love interest, Hades is the main antagonist, the winged horse Pegasus has changed from white to black, and the robotic owl Bubo has been replaced by a pasty young girl who never ages. While much of it has been altered for no apparent reason, some things have received an overhaul appropriate to the advancements in technology – namely the special effects and creature designs. While some may feel no amount of CG can replace the classic look of Harryhausen’s inspired creations, updates to the Kraken, the Stygian Witches, the giant scorpions, and even new additions like the Djinns are creative and often quite impressive. When it comes to Medusa though, the stop-motion Gorgon is still the reigning champion.
Found abandoned in the sea as a child, Perseus (Sam Worthington) is rescued by the fisherman Spyros (Pete Postlethwaite) and raised as his own. When his adopted family is killed by the god of the Underworld, Hades (Ralph Fiennes), Perseus soon discovers that he is actually the son of Zeus (Liam Neeson) and in order to have his revenge he must undertake a nearly impossible task – defeat the monstrous Kraken, a beast so powerful even the gods on Mount Olympus fear it.
Although he despises his demigod origins, Perseus won’t make the journey alone. A powerful sword forged by the gods themselves is his weapon, and at his side is Io (Gemma Arterton), a beautiful woman cursed with agelessness (along with flawless makeup and a healthy glow), and the soldiers Draco (Mads Mikkelson), Solon (Liam Cunningham), Ixas (Hans Matheson) and more, including volunteers, scorpion-riding desert people, and other fodder for the various monsters they encounter. Like the original, their first stop is to discover the Kraken’s weakness at the garden of Stygia and the last is to cross the River Styx into Medusa’s lair.
The costumes, armor, castles, makeup, creatures, special effects and more are all grander in scale than the original, but with the help of some ridiculous dialogue, Zeus’ glowing wardrobe and unnecessary flashbacks, the cheesiness hasn’t left. At least a clever homage is thrown in. But where’s the sensational music or the chance to outdo the classic design of Medusa? And why does the use of 3D in this movie have such little impact on the visual appeal? This remake is also just in time to have the Kraken (a cross between the Cloverfield behemoth and the enemy soldiers in the Gears of War video game) belittled by the flying colossus in How to Train Your Dragon. With larger roles for lesser characters, the ferryman’s upgraded boat (possibly due to bribes), a pitifully uncreative alteration for Calibos, and Ralph Fiennes portrayal of a character noticeably too much like Harry Potter’s Voldemort, this not-so-epic odyssey is more tedious, generic and recycled than it ought to be.
– The Massie Twins (GoneWithTheTwins.com)