I've waited a long while for this one, it seems, but went away very disappointed.
*beware: contains spoilers*
The original 1981 epic was a part of my childhood, and used to be on at Christmas every year as long back as I remember. But I was determined to enjoy the remake and let it stand on its own merits.
The special effects were ok (although there is something more magical about Ray Harryhausen's earlier creations), but just ok as I have seen better. The clockwork owl makes a nostalgic appearance, which ends with one character suggesting they don't bother bringing it along. They don't.
The action scenes are quite good with lots of jumping about and bronze-age sword-fighting behaviour. But many of the scenes are plain silly. A lot of the Olympus scenes are reminiscent of Harry Potter (complete with Ralph Fiennes) and at one point Liam Neeson (Zeus) looks like he is reprising his role as Obi-Wan Kenobi.
In fact, the biggest changes to the story are theological, and that's where I have the greatest difficulty with the remake. Gone is the arbitrary human-like behaviour of the Olympian Gods, classically both good and evil wrapped up in one, and here in 2010 we have to have good versus evil, with Hades of the underworld playing the villain and Zeus as, effectively, the Christian God.
(This is reinforced at one point with Zeus declaring how he wanted to love of humanity but without losing his son!)
The influence of Lord of the Rings and other recent blockbusters is all too evident, with the Evil god coming to do battle with the forces of Good. Textbook stuff, but nothing to do with Greek Mythology. A familiarity with Greek Mythology should make the story less confusing, but it is clear that the film's producers had little faith in its audiences knowledge.
The historical stuff was good, too, although the appearance of Iron Age Persian architecture in a Bronze Age Greek story bugged me a little. Sam Worthington was good, but Liam Neeson was wasted, as was Ralph Fiennes. Gemma Arterton glowed.
6 out of 10.
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