On The Clash of Titans, a comparison
The problem with comparing a remake with an original is that the comparison is always in terms of which film made it better or which made it worse. This is simplistic and narrow minded. Instead, the differences between a remake and an original should be treated as if they were historical documents. Every piece of content ever created is indicative of the culture that spawned it and if it should be judged only the people it was made for could rightfully and properly do so.
The Clash of Titans made for this decade is just that in comparison to all the other movies of its convention; it pales. It does, however, reflect the nature of its time, the use of beautiful special effects, intense action sequences, a simplistic storyline which is really nothing more than a hollywood writer humanizing a classical myth for a modern audience, and its really nothing more than a little kid who tried so hard to be just like his father Gladiator with Russel Crowe but will always be in the tall shadow of his big brothers, 300 with Gerard Butler and Kingodm of Heaven with Orlando Bloom. With all due respect to the lead actor, it was the writer’s fault.
Probably the reason why it never truly captured the hearts of now is because it tried so hard to be something its not. Gladiator and 300 were historicals; accuracy was really stretched quite a bit in their production, sure, but they gave the film industry a better for every buck on an old formula.
The Clash of Titans, on the other hands, is not historical fiction. It is, and will always be, within the epic tradition no matter how modern a writer might try to make of it. Sure, 300 was epic, but it wasn’t an epic. The reason why the original was so successful wasn’t only because it really was made for the 80’s but also because it was faithful to the epic tradition of storytelling.
Consider films like the Indiana Jones series, the original Star Wars trilogy by George Lucas, and the Harry Potter series. These were all produced in the epic tradition, something which their creators bothered to study.
The epic tradition of storytelling isn’t about being compelling but rather it’s compelling simply because it’s immersive. Telling an epic is an audience into a totally new world. It isn’t the story that they’re after but also the world the characters inhabit. This is the entire point of classical myths, seeing a world apart from our own. This why so many fantastical elements fill an epic; be warned, however, fantastical elements never define an epic.
An epic is never truly an action movie. Sure, Beowulf the Epic was just one acction sequence after another even in the original bardic song from centuries ago, but it never let go of one key element: adventure.
This is where the original triumphed and where the remake forgot. Adventure, you could never truly tell an epic without adventure.