Even on its release in 1981, "Clash of the Titans" felt like a film from a fading era. Turn-of-the-decade hunk Harry Hamlin led a cast stuffed with special guests like Burgess Meredith, Ursula Andress and, as Zeus, Laurence Olivier. The stop-motion animation of Ray Harryhausen, once state of the art, looked quaint in the wake of "Star Wars." The creation of Bubo, the mechanical owl, seemed like a rickety rip-off of R2-D2.
As for the remake, released Friday, time will again be the judge.
The new "Clash" stars another turn-of-the-decade hunk, Sam Worthington, as the demigod Perseus. The more established stars include Liam Neeson as Zeus and Ralph Fiennes as Hades (hunched and loping like Olivier himself). The computer animation looks uninspired after last year's dazzling "Avatar." As for the 3-D visuals, they're oddly glitchy: Faces often hover in the foreground and leave the heads a few inches behind.
The movie's thunder also has been stolen by the recent young-adult fantasy "Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief," which already covered the myth of Perseus and his journeys, not to mention the lousy parenting skills of distant gods. "Clash" mostly adds darker hues and more violence to the story.
Director Louis Leterrier ("The Incredible Hulk") knows he's repeating history: As an in-joke, he has Worthington reach into a pile of junk to discover old Bubo, the mechanical owl. He tosses the thing aside, but it lingers like another mythical bird: the albatross.
Clash of the'80s remakes
'Clash of the Titans" won't be the only '80s movie being remade or updated this year:
"Red Dawn" (Nov. 24) - A group of youths forms a guerrilla army to fight back against military forces that have invaded America.
"Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps" (Sept. 24) - Is greed still good for Gordon Gekko? After creating an archetype of the modern robber baron with 1987's "Wall Street," director Oliver Stone and Michael Douglas resurrect Gekko in our own messy economic times.