Clash of the Titans proves digital doesn't always trump analogue

Wife asks me about plot halfway through this fantasy epic. "Why are they doing this again?" she wonders. "To sell action figures," I reply. I really should've said, "to sell video games." Action figures would have been apropos to the so-so original Clash of the Titans, the final bow of f/x master Ray Harryhausen, whose charming stop-motion techniques were becoming obsolete thanks to new computer technology from Industrial Light & Magic. And yet he still put some genuine fairy-tale magic into the swirl of Hollywoodized Greek mythology. This more "serious" remake even has an inside joke that's a cheap-shot insult to the original. That said, like a clunky old classic car, the analog 1981 version is still more fun, so there. The plot is the quest of fashionably glum hero Perseus (Sam Worthington) to hack his way through a bunch of Todd McFarlane-style monsters to find out how to defeat Lord of the Underworld Hades (Ralph Fiennes) and his gigantic ultimate-weapon creature, the Kraken. The twist is that the ancient Aegeans have evidently been reading evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, and the recurring theme is man's revolt and rejection of the capricious gods, even more-or-less benevolent creator Zeus (Liam Neeson). Half-god son of the lusty Zeus, Perseus suppresses his Olympian superpowers most of the time. Even so, the likely audience for this is Gameplayer magazine subscribers, with CGI frantic action scenes that look like cut-pastes from Transformers or Pirates of the Caribbean. ** 1/2