Friday, April 29, 2011

"Clash of the Titans" (2010)

Starring Sam Worthington, Gemma Aterton and Liam Neeson
Written by Travis Beacham, Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi
Directed by Louis Leterrier
Rated PG-13 - Violence, monsters
Running Time: 106 minutes

Clash of the Titans [Blu-ray]Perseus (Sam Worthington), illegitimate son of Zeus (Liam Neeson) is found and raised by a kindly fisherman named Spyros (Pete Postlethwaite in one of his last roles).  Perseus, his mother, and Spyros are one day sailing toward the kingdom of Argos when they see a group of soldiers defiling a great statue along the shore.  No sooner do they topple it, but do they bring down the wrath of the gods upon them.  Hades (Ralph Fiennes) unleashes his creatures upon the soldiers, decimating them, and then destroys Spyros' boat, killing Spyros and Perseus' mother.

Perseus is rescued by the surviving soldiers and brought to Argos, where he witnesses the King declare war on the Gods.  The king compares his daughter Andromeda (Alexa Davalos) to the beauty of Aphrodite.  Meanwhile, Hades convinces Zeus to allow him to destroy Argos, which will reinvigorate the Gods' power over Man.  Hades kills the king and queen and says that if Andromeda is not sacrificed for her blasphemy, then the Kraken will be loosed upon Argos, destroying it entirely.  Perseus survives Hades' attack, and vows to kill him in revenge for the deaths of his parents.  He decides to lead Argos' remaining soldiers on a quest to find a weakness to defeat the Kraken, aided by an immortal named Io (Gemma Aterton) and a group of Argos' best warriors.

I've not seen the original "Clash of the Titans," so I can't speak to this remake in terms of a comparison.  What I can do is discuss the 2010 "Clash of the Titans" as its own film... which it kind of isn't.  Apparently it took three people (four, if Wikipedia is correct) to write this movie.  I'm not entirely certain that such writing consisted of more than ideas for fight sequences scribbled on napkins and interspersed with "Insert Exposition Here."

There's really nothing particularly special about "Clash of the Titans," save the performances of Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes as Zeus and Hades.  Some things don't make much sense - Spyros in one scene tells Perseus that he's tired of bowing down before the Gods "for scraps," and that one day someone will have to stand up to them; in the next scene, he's upset that soldiers are defiling a statue of Zeus.  The entire progression of the film is built entirely on a series of deus ex machina, though I suppose that might be okay considering it is a film about feuding gods.

Still, there's nothing much more to "Clash of the Titans" than a series of action sequences and some talking in between.  I'm not entirely certain why the script bothers to give any screen time to Andromeda at all, since she's not important to Perseus or his revenge.  Indeed, in this version she's not even his love interest (I am aware of the original, even if I haven't seen it); instead that role is taken by Io. 

The movie is loaded with computer generated effects, most of which are pretty good.  With so many effects, it's understandable that there will be some inconsistency.  Medusa isn't particularly impressive, sadly, though most of the other creatures are quite cool, and the swirling embers that surround Hades are very well done.  I did really enjoy the effects that bring Mount Olympus to life.  It's difficult to describe, but the floor of the room is like an entire landscape, covered in clouds.  Very cool.  The action sequences are competent, but there's nothing particularly memorable. 

What is memorable, however, is Zeus and Hades.  These two are really the only people in the entire film that have any weight.  Their scenes are the only ones in the entire film that really come alive, and I wish the movie had really been about them instead of about a moody Perseus whining about wanting to be a man but not a god. 

"Clash of the Titans" looks kinda cool, but is mostly empty.  It made quite a bit of money in theatres, and there's a sequel on the way.  Maybe there will be a story in that one.  But this movie isn't anything special.