I had been hearing a lot of hullabaloo about the new Clash of the Titans trailer, and so I thought I'd search for it online. The first page I found that contained the video was from the website for the New York Daily News, with an article on the subject by one Gina Salamone.
Oh Gina, Gina, Gina. You may have the Italianized version of my last name that I always wanted, but this will not save you from my vitriol. Readers, here's a passage from Ms. Salamone's piece:
The fantasy film based on the Greek mythic hero, Perseus, was a box office hit in 1981, grossing $41 million in the U.S. from a budget of $16 million, largely thanks to a shirtless Harry Hamlin. Over the years, it's gained a cult following for its charmingly clumsy special effects.
From reading the entire article, I will make the assumption that Salamone has never heard of Ray Harryhausen, since his name is never mentioned. What I did learn is that she believes Harryhausen's work to be "charmingly clumsy", and better yet, that she believes the film's "cult following" shares that opinion.
You know what I think is "charmingly clumsy"? The Daily News' prose style. As for Harryhausen, how uninformed does it make a journalist appear when she doesn't even have the wherewithal to research the topic she's writing about? If she did so, she would've discovered that Harryhausen is one of the most respected and influential figures in the history of movie special effects. And that his work was absolutely cutting edge in its day, and continues to impress film lovers worldwide.
Again, I do not know our Gina, but I will assume she is not what I would call a cinema aficionado, judging by a laundry list of previous hard-hitting articles on such topics as Pamela Anderson's new fragrance line, Aerosmith's rumored breakup, Chris Brown's MTV interview, and the dangers of texting while driving. I'm going to guess she's probably never even seen Clash of the Titans, but ran it by a questionable coterie of Gen-X jackasses in the office to get the gist she came up with.
Sadly, however, Salamone's piece is not the first time I've run across this blissfully ignorant denigration of Harryhausen. I distinctly remember Clash of the Titans being included in one of those insipidly addictive VH1 "I Love the '80s" gimmicks, in which some bright light who wasn't Michael Ian Black or Mo Rocca discussed the film's "cheesy claymation effects". Sigh. So I guess Harryhausen worked with clay now. I was never aware of that--thank you, razor-sharp pop culture pundit. Because Jason and the Argonauts looks no different than the California Raisins, right?
Apparently, we're supposed to believe that the CGI which abounds in special effects films of today is such an amazing improvement over the "clumsy" and "cheesy" effects of a Harryhausen. Well, you know what? I watched the trailer, and it looks nowhere near as cool as the Desmond Davis original. It's the same goddamn cookie-cutter CGI we get in every "FX blockbuster", lacking any of the character and distinctive look of the original. Yes, CGI can be quite convincing when done right, but 90% of the time it's just as "non-real" looking as stop-motion. So come off it.
And by the way, I sincerely hope that Creed-like music is not actually featured in the movie--that better not be what replaces Laurence Rosenthal's exhilarating score.
In short, I politely disagree with the Daily News' dismissive assessment in its headline for Salamone's opus that this remake has "better effects". That would be like a newspaper glibly declaring that an upcoming remake of The Godfather looked to have "better acting". I find it a sadly ignorant and uninformed comment to make, and simply couldn't just let it go. Thanks for listening.