Originals vs Reboots

A poster of the 2010 reboot featuring Avatar and Terminator's Sam Worthington

When I first saw the Clash of the Titans 2010 version, I didn’t like it. I thought it was an inferior reboot of the 1981 original featuring Harry Hamlin as Perseus and Laurence Olivier as Zeus, which I incidentally watched when I was in high school sometime in the 90s. My first complaint was that the reboot deviated too much from the original mythology and worse paired up Perseus with Io, who based on Greek Mythology is Perseus’s great great great aunt if not his great grandmother (Check out this chart if you don’t believe me) . The horror! Second sin was in making Pegasus black, which kind of for me deducted from air of magic that a white winged horse presents. Third, the glittery armor worn by the gods of Olympus. Don’t get me wrong. The filmmakers cast the gods beautifully but the shiny armor is kind of distracting. As I kept complaining on the way home, my brother called me on my bluff. We purchased a VCD copy of the original and compared the two version with fresh eyes.

The 1981 Perseus and Pegasus vs the Kraken. Truly, aside from the uneven transitions and the linear editing, including Pegasus’s cardboard wings,  I still liked the original better, although admittedly it suffers in comparison to sheer bad-assness of the new version. But perhaps that’s mythology buff in me speaking. I chose the original because it had the cuteness of Bobo the Owl and the gods looked like and behaved like they were supposed to — not battle ready but clad in their togas living a life of languid luxury above the clouds, watching over the humans and trifling with their existence as if they were playthings. Considering the technology in the 80s, I would have to say that the movie succeeded in interpreting the material in the best that they can during the period. When I first watched the film in high school (the movie was about a decade and a half old already at this point), it still managed to amaze me and entertain me. When I saw it again for the second time in VCD last year (the movie was 29 years old by this time), some of the magic has been stripped from it, I admit because today’s standards are higher but it still held its own versus the updated version.

Who are you more afraid of? 1982 Conan?

When I watched the Conan the Barbarian reboot last week, I was wondering whether or not I should quit watching remakes of the classics. Although superior in terms of special effects and violence, I thought the remake lacked the vital essence that made the original the spark that catapulted the Governator to superstardom. To be fair, I also purchased a VCD of the 1982 version to compare the two movies, but my original opinion did not change. The original was better than the reboot because the story made more sense. The original version saw a young Conan witnessing the destruction of his village and the slaughter of his people, including his parents by the cult general Thulsa Doom. Together with other children, Conan is sold to become a slave and later a warrior — forced to kill of be killed, thus developing his lack of regard for human life. He is later freed by his master and embarks a quest for revenge to end Thulsa Doom’s reign of terror. The updated movie presented the young Conan as battle ready and bloodthirsty even before he hit puberty.

... or his 2011 counterpart?

The reboot, in my opinion, was too violent which lacks not only a moral lesson but also a relateable hero. If there was anything the original had going for it was that it had a lead who, although at the time had limited acting skills performed his action scenes with a vengeance. Leave us not forget that Schwarzenegger did the movie in the wake of his Mr. Universe win so he was at his peak physical level. Still, he behaved more like a caveman rather than a barbarian but it was a close enough performance. The new Conan had a one-expression actor grunting his displeasure in every scene and an unremarkable cast of villains who sneer and smirk and slit throats every other scene. Ho hum. Nothing we haven’t seen before.

Now, I’m not discounting that some reboots may be better than the the classic. Captain America was great, as is the Dark Knight. The X-men prequel added something to the franchise.  Superman was passable but no way close to the Christopher Reeve classics, and the Hollywood adaptations of Asian horror have been mostly lame, except maybe the first The Ring. So, the rule of the thumb should really be to leave it alone if you’re not going to improve on it, or am I wrong?  Don’t fix what ain’t broken. But then again, maybe is just me.