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Flashback: 'Clash of the Titans' lost best picture to 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' … at the Saturn Awards

April 2, 2010 | 11:47 am

"Clash of the Titans" is in a fierce clash with film critics, who are thrusting their pens like swords, gleefully, at the 3-D remake. Why? "There's nothing worse than a boring behemoth," fumes USA Today.

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"It's doubtful that records are kept about this sort of thing, but consider the possibility that 'Clash of the Titans' is the first film to actually be made worse by being in 3-D," says Kenneth Turan in the L.A. Times. It's getting a few decent reviews from Owen Gleiberman at Entertainment Weekly and Roger Ebert at the Chicago Sun-Times, but otherwise the consensus opinion seems to be reflected by Brian Lowry's view in Variety: "This 'Titans' reboot merely demonstrates that building a more elaborate mousetrap doesn't necessarily produce a more entertaining one."

But "Titans" fans have permission to pooh-pooh all that. The original 1981 production got widely skewered too — even by Variety, which called it "an unbearable bore that will probably put to sleep the few adults stuck taking kids to it. This mythical tale of Perseus, son of Zeus, and his quest for the 'fair' Andromedia, is mired in a slew of corny dialog and an endless array of flat, outdated special effects."

But lots of kids and adults did attend. It earned $41 million at the box office, making it the 11th-biggest grossing film of 1981. And it quickly became a cult classic — in a camp kind of way. It's absolutely hilarious today to watch Larry Olivier, Maggie Smith, Claire Bloom and Harry Hamlin uttering that corny dialogue while wrapped in sheets like stiff, unhappy prisoners at John Belushi's toga party in "Animal House."

Here's a dialogue sample. Zeus (Olivier) boasting about a battle victory by his son Perseus (Hamlin): "Fortune is ally to the brave!"

Thetis (Smith): "What a dangerous precedent! What if there more heroes like him? What if courage and imagination became everyday mortal qualities? What will become of us?"

The Oscars and Golden Globes snubbed the original "Clash of the Titans," but it got nominated for six Saturn Awards, including best picture (which it lost to "Raiders of the Lost Ark") and best supporting actor (Burgess Meredith as Ammon, a playwright pal of Perseus -- he beat Ralph Richardson in "Dragonslayer," Paul Freeman in "Raiders of the Lost Ark" and Craig Warnock in "Time Bandits").

Photo: MGM

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