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Movie Review: Clash of the Titans

By Matthew Huntley

April 5, 2010

I can no longer lie to you, son. Your mother was a goblin. I'd had a lot to drink and..

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Imagine a dumbed down version of Clash of the Titans (1981) and you have a good idea of what the remake is like. The only problem is the original was already dumbed down, although Ray Harryhausen's special effects did provide it a certain amount of charm. The remake has good effects, too, but it doesn't have the patience or slightest bit of intelligence for us to fully absorb and admire them. It rushes through itself so fast it makes our heads spin.

Clash of the Titans (2010) is another example of Hollywood assuming all viewers have attention deficit disorder, that without constant action and mayhem taking place on-screen, we lose interest. Why is this still an issue when it's become so clear that movies with a coherent pace are usually the better ones? Perhaps the makers of "Titans" knew the screenplay was a dud and the effects were all it had going for it. By plowing through the narrative as fast as possible, they figured viewers wouldn't suffer as much. No matter what, suffering seemed inevitable.

It's a shame this movie didn't take a route similar to Percy Jackson and send up Greek mythology while simultaneously paying heed to it. That might have allowed it to save a little face. But no, the filmmakers tell it straight and the result is laughable.

The story you probably know. Zeus (Liam Neeson), god of the heavens, created mankind because he and the other gods sought the humans' loyalty and prayers. But mankind has become restless and insolent because their prayers are going unanswered. They go so far as to compare themselves to their makers. Zeus' brother, Hades (Ralph Fiennes), who rules the underworld, suggests unleashing his Kraken monster on the city of Argos unless man sacrifices Princess Andromeda (Alexa Davalos).

Enter Perseus (Sam Worthington), mortal son of Zeus and demigod. He spearheads a resistance against the gods to defeat the Kraken and show a new era has begun - that of man. In a manner all too similar to The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Perseus leads a team of men through several battles and action sequences, followed then by even more battles and action sequences.




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And that's essentially what the movie is: a series of elaborate action scenes stitched together by simple-minded dialogue. Everything flies by so fast that I began to feel disoriented and ultimately lose interest, which happens too early on. By the time the giant scorpions arrived, I was over it. And the movie hadn't even gotten to Medusa yet, who, by the way, is a letdown. The screenplay makes it a point to tell us Medusa's snake-haired head, which turns those who look at it into stone, will be used to defeat the Kraken. In the original, Perseus' encounter with Medusa was incidental and the idea of using her head to defeat the Kraken wasn't part of his master plan. Here, it's a major plot point, and there's a cheesy line when Perseus says to his men, "Remember, don't look this b*tch in the eye." Did they really talk like this in ancient times?

Speaking of Perseus, he seems anachronistic compared to the other characters. He's presented more as a modern day marine than a mythological hero. He looks too polished with his buzz cut and unnatural in his wardrobe (it's like he's wearing a costume). Was this done deliberately to make him stand out? Call me old-fashioned, but I prefer the long-haired, schlocky appearance of Harry Hamlin, who at least looked like he belonged in this story. Sam Worthington is fast becoming one of the most popular names in Hollywood, but I'm not convinced he's a good actor. As in Avatar, he's more of a prop than a character. Maybe if we see him in a less effects-driven film, he'll be able to show off his true thespian talent.

I mentioned the effects are good in the movie, and they are, especially the Kraken scenes, but they're no reason to see it. In fact, I can't think of any reason to see Clash of the Titans. It's silly and stupid, but not in the way Percy Jackson was silly and stupid. This time, those traits prove to be irking and frustrating instead of funny and enchanting. I'm all for remakes if the original can be re-imagined (in a good way) or simply improved upon, but the only direction Titans went was down.


     


 
 

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