We went to the set of Louis Leterrier's upcoming reboot of the classic mythology movie Class of the Titans last summer, and one thing we took away from it is this: It definitely isn't a straight remake.
Oh, there's Perseus (played by Sam Worthington), a cool new Medusa, a cool new Kraken, Andromeda (Alexa Davalos) and lots of sword-fighting.
But there's also cooler versions of the giant scorpions, bat-winged harpies, eyeless Stygian witches and tons of new monsters, and Zeus (Liam Neeson) doesn't wear a white, diaphanous woman's gown: He wears armor, as befits the king of the gods.
And what about Bubo, the mechanical owl? He's in it. But not for long.
Pegasus, Perseus' winged steed, is also in it. But he's black, not white. And he and Worthington did not get along.
"I hate that f--king horse," Worthington told a group of reporters visiting the film's U.K. set last summer. "Have they told you that? How I hate the horse? I hate it, I hate it."
Worthington adds: "It's a simple way of saying this isn't the Clash of the Titans that you're used to. We're revving it up a bit. Bubo is not necessarily liked. Um, the horse has an attitude problem."
SCI FI Wire was part of the group that visited the set of Clash of the Titans at Longcross Studios, a converted tank factory in Chertsey, outside London, on Aug. 21, 2009. (The new 3-D movie opens on April 2.)
French director Leterrier (The Incredible Hulk) said that he set out to make Clash as an action-adventure movie for a new generation.
"I just didn't want to do it the same, but just different," Leterrier said during a break in filming, adding: "The only way to make it ... mine was really to make it personal. Therefore to rewrite a screenplay to ... incorporate in my vision of the film, and then change the rest. And I actually [was inspired] more [by the] mythology and other ideas and stuff ... than just one movie. ... Creating a universe, you know?"
During our visit, we saw some awesome sets, including the black boat that Charon (an animatronic specter) pilots across the River Styx, as well as a large outdoor set of the City of Argos, consisting of a main plaza off of which run several streets.
Up a flight of stairs is a market with overhanging canopies; around the square are dun-colored open storefronts and what look like multistory residences. The set is dressed with all manner of props: braziers smoking with real fires, pots, baskets, carts, tables, stools, fake fruit and food, draped clothing, the works. It's like standing in the middle of ancient Greece.
There's a slight drizzle falling on an otherwise lovely, coolish late summer day in England, uh, Argos.
In the scene we're observing today, a flock of bat-winged harpies descends on the crowd in Argos, while a Djinn warrior atop a giant scorpion rides in to save the day by heaving an immense spear at a harpy, destroying a storefront. The square is full of extras dressed in the rough tunics of ancient Greece, their faces dirty and their robes ragged. A camera rig hangs on wires strung from towering cranes overhead; it will shoot from the harpies' point of view as it flies over the crowd.
Leterrier, in a blue-and-red paid shirt and camouflage shorts, oversees the shot from the thick of the crowd, telling the extras where to run as the harpies descend (there are no actual harpies here today; they will be added in post-production).
In the middle of the crowd there will appear a giant scorpion atop which rides a warrior sitting in a wooden palanquin. For the shot, the palanquin and the black-robed warrior are there, but the "scorpion" is actually a mechanical gimbal rig, which will rock the palanquin as if it were riding atop the giant arthropod.
For the shot, Louis yells, and the extras scatter. There's smoke, screaming, a woman tumbles off a balcony. The camera swoops around overhead and behind the "scorpion" as it rocks. We are told that Perseus, astride Pegasus, will gallop forward and ascend over the scorpion, but that part of the shot is not in today's scene. Behind us, the giant Kraken will emerge from the sea to smash its tentacles onto the city; again, this is something for another day.
Here's Warner Brothers' official description of the movie:
Cast: Sam Worthington, Gemma Arterton, Mads Mikkelsen, Alexa Davalos, Jason Flemyng, Ralph Fiennes, Liam Neeson
In "Clash of the Titans," the ultimate struggle for power pits men against kings and kings against gods. But the war between the gods themselves could destroy the world. Born of a god but raised as a man, Perseus (Sam Worthington) is helpless to save his family from Hades (Ralph Fiennes), vengeful god of the underworld. With nothing left to lose, Perseus volunteers to lead a dangerous mission to defeat Hades before he can seize power from Zeus (Liam Neeson) and unleash hell on earth. Leading a daring band of warriors, Perseus sets off on a perilous journey deep into forbidden worlds. Battling unholy demons and fearsome beasts, he will only survive if he can accept his power as a god, defy his fate and create his own destiny.
"It really is a dangerous story, and also it's a bit darker, it's a bit funner," Leterrier says. "There's more adventure. ... We stretched it."
Worthington says his version of Perseus is different from the love-struck demigod played by Harry Hamlin in the original film.
"In the original, Perseus ... he's part man, part god, as you know," Worthington says. "And he accepts the gods' side pretty easily in the first one and accepts all the gifts the gods give him. And, to me, that wasn't a very good message to give to my 9-year-old nephew or any kid, I think, is that you have to be a god to achieve something. So one of these things I said to Louis and talked to Louis about was that ... he wants to be a man and do this as a man. And do it with other men. Because I think that's a good message: that anything is possible if you banded together as men."
Worthington adds: "The second thing is that, you know, in Greek mythology, destiny is set for you. Something I thought that was another crap message to give to my nephew, because you know, hey, to say to him, 'You're already going to be destined to do this, this and this,' I believe you can make your own fate. So we kind of played against that. So my Perseus is really, to use that word again, a boisterous, belligerent kind of teenager, is how I've been playing him. Who, you know, you tell him he can't do something, he'll run headlong into doing it. And that gets him into a lot of trouble. He's not the golden boy. He's the teenager who has to learn to grow up."