Review: Clash of the Titans


A good special-effects era mythology movie is bound to happen at some point, but we’re definitely still waiting. “Clash of the Titans” is merely a modern incarnation of the original that in the age of CGI monsters and impressive fight sequences plops lazily in the category of status quo, something its 1981 cult predecessor was anything but thanks to the groundbreaking stop-motion work of Ray Harryhausen.

That’s where my comparison of these films nearly 30 years apart starts and ends. 2010’s “Clash of the Titans” has enough faults of its own. It serves up the meat and potatoes we come to expect of any action film, especially in a post-“300” world of modern swords-and- sandals epics, but there’s a definite lack of gravy. No surprises, no unique features — even star Sam Worthington as the hero Perseus comes off dusty after the true “titan” that “Avatar” was.

The myth of the Greek hero/demi-god Perseus, though butchered completely in this movie, is still essentially the quest to retrieve the head of Medusa. In “Titans,” Perseus finds himself in the troubled city of Argos after his adoptive family is killed by Hades, who has uncharacteristically left his domain in the Underworld because humans have begun acting out in defiance of the gods. Hades gets the gods of Mt. Olympus to agree to unleash his Kracken, the beast who defeated the titans long ago, on Argos if they don’t sacrifice their princess, Andromeda, in reverence of the gods.

Angry at the gods himself, (and already embittered by the opinions of his father who not- so-subtly suggests “someone, someday will take a stand”), Perseus is slightly unhappy to learn he almost is one. He agrees to consult the Fates and learn what he can do to defeat this fearsome beast, but he wants to do it on his terms — as man, not as a god.

Twisting mythology is small stuff, however, on the list of the script’s flaws. It’s a typical hero’s journey story told almost entirely by dialogue. Not narration, but using dialogue to move the scenes rather than let images and events speak for themselves. It’s horribly amateur and as a result the lines are all throwaway. The script speaks of grand themes such as humanity vs. godliness which don’t work when you don’t care for the humans because the beginning is scraped together and told in this talk-heavy way.

Impressed by the action work on “The Incredible Hulk,” I had reasonably high expectations for director Louis Leterrier, but the action scenes are aimless and ill-conceived. I once again fault the trio of inexperienced and low-quality writers, however, because they gave these scenes no shape and which prodded Leterrier toward milking them for whatever they did have, using too many slow-mo shots and the like. He does some great flying camera takes and the Medusa scene turned out fairly exciting — even though the gorgon was kinda awkwardly sexy, which you can interpret however you like.

The art direction renders mixed results. Medusa’s lair was well-conceived and I did like the vision of Charon the Styx ferryman, but the weird shiny armor of the gods was corny and the horrific makeup used to disfigure venerable actors Neeson as Zeus and Fiennes as the oddly asthmatic Hades was below true blockbuster quality. The cgi effects were pretty good, particularly Hades turning into puffs of smoke and such.

Finally — and no spoilers here — yes, the Kracken is released, just in case you didn’t catch Neeson saying that in every TV spot. Why Warner Bros. wanted to release the Kracken in ads and completely spoil the biggest reveal/tool to shock the audience the movie has is a question is beyond me and says a lot about their confidence in this generic adventure film.

2/5 Stars

Clash of the Titans (2010)
Directed by: Louis Leterrier
Written by: Travis Beacham, Phil Hay, Matt Manfredi
Starring: Sam Worthington, Ralph Fiennes, Liam Neeson, Gemma Arterton

1 Comment

  1. Jenni Hanley says:

    Agree on pretty much everything you said. Mythology butchered, but that’s to be expected. Makeup: awful (the dead Acrisius was the worst)! The writing/script was kind of lame. But Medusa was the best part for me…it was the most suspenseful and interesting.

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