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Thursday, April 1, 2010

"Clash of the Titans" is a titanic let down.

Clash of the Titans
review by Brent Sweeting

1 1/2 out of 4 stars

Bad writing, bad directing, bad acting, and for an extra $5.00 you can upgrade your ticket to see the movie in really badly rendered 3D. Much like the recent "Star Wars" prequels, "Clash of the Titans" takes a highly anticipated storyline and butchers it. This movie will still appeal to some who just want to see a modern special effects version of Greek mythology, but almost every thing that could have been great about "Clash of the Titans" ends up missing the mark.

Based on the 1981 Gen-X childhood staple of the same name, "Clash of the Titans" tells the story of Perseus the son of Zeus. The original film was very loosely based on the source material, but took major liberties in putting the final storyline together. (For example the Kraken is not from Greek mythology at all, but comes out of  Norwegian stories.) This new adaptation starts with the original movie as its source material, and once again deviates into a very different plot line.

This newer version of "Clash of the Titans" centers around Zeus' fear of becoming neglected by man, and his brother Hades' plan to instill fear back into mortals so they will come begging for help again. The prayers of man are what gives the gods their power, and apparently man has begun to get a bit too independent. Hades appears before the humans and insists they sacrifice the princess Andromeda (Alexa Davalos) to the Kraken, or he will let the Kraken destroy their city. Liam Neeson is Zeus, and Ralph Fiennes is Hades. Watching these too acting greats in "Clash of the Titans" is painful. The last time these two were together was in "Schindler's List". Let's be honest, nobody is expecting "Clash of the Titans" to rival "Schindler's List", but Liam Neeson seemed more invested in his role in "Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace". Fiennes is even worse. How director Louis Leterrier (The Transporter) managed to bring out such bad performances from these guys remains a mystery. None of the original banter between the gods is present in this remake. Poseidon may have had a speaking line or two, but essentially its Zeus and Hades, and any other gods in the movie are just there as background.

Perseus goes on a familiar quest to stop the princess Andromeda from being sacrificed to the Kraken monster. Showing up along the way are the Stygian Witches, Medusa, Pegasus, and even Calibos. (Calibos also has an entirely new backstory.) Sam Worthington is Perseus, two new characters join him in his quest.  Gemma Arterton (Quantum of Solace) as Io, and Mads Mikkelsen (Casino Royale) as Draco, accompany Perseus as he sets out to defeat the gods. In this version, there is absolutely no love story between Perseus and Andromeda. Perseus sets out to destroy the Kraken as a means of sticking it to the gods. If there is any romantic aspect to this movie, it is between Perseus and Io, and there isn't much there either. The emotional connection to Andromeda in the original movie is mainly realized through her relationship with Perseus. By removing the largest element of  connection to Andromeda, the audience is left with much less investment in Perseus' ability to defeat the Kraken and save her. Whether it seems sappy or not, cheering for the power of love is always a lot more exciting that cheering on the protagonist "to really stick it to the man".

The problem with "Clash of the Titans" isn't the fact that so much of the story was changed. The problem is that in the process of changing things, somehow the fantasy, emotion, and magic of the original movie got lost. With the exception of Pete Postlethwaite (The Usual Suspects) who has a minor role as the adopted father of Perseus, almost all the acting in the movie is flat. Flat overall is the best way to describe "Clash of the Titans", and this is a film that should have at least been an edge-of-your-seat exciting summer blockbuster.
One thing that was impressive about this newer version was the Kraken itself. The old stop motion effects of Ray Harryhausen's original were great in their day, but obviously don't hold up to modern standards. The updated special effects in the new "Clash of the Titans" pay off for the most part. Medusa looks like more like a video game character than a living breathing creature, but the Kraken was awe-inspiring. One thing that Leterrier did right in this movie was to make sure that when the Kraken shows up, you really feel the awesome power behind it. You will absolutely believe that this monster could destroy a city. I would have enjoyed it a lot more if I didn't have to take my 3D glasses off to see it more clearly.

I'm not a huge fan of the 3D movement but I understood its place in "Avatar", a movie that was shot specifically for 3D and used it well. Even "Alice in Wonderland", and "How to Train Your Dragon" used the technology as well as possible, and it added to the overall experience of the visuals. I do however find it distracting, a bit overstimulating, and after about an hour and 45 minutes my eyes start to hurt. In the aforementioned movies, the 3D still added something to the films. In "Clash of the Titans", not only does the 3D add nothing, but it actually makes the movie worse. The 3D translation is so poorly done, that a lot of characters look like you are watching them through a fish-eye lens (you know, that hole in your front door that allows you to see who is outside). Unless you are just a huge fan of Greek mythology, or need to satisfy that nostalgic fix that has nagged at you since you first saw the trailer for this remake, "Clash of the Titans" is one to skip. But if you absolutely need to see it to feel complete, do yourself a favor and get a ticket to the regular 2D showing. Otherwise you might as well try to watch this movie through a scuba mask filled with water.


  1. i completely agree i cant believe i wasted £7.00 on it.

  2. Warner Brothers had rushed the movie to cash in the 3D fever caused by Avatar. The theatrical release was full of inconsistencies like lack of depth in scenes. Some scenes seem to be appeared in 2D. It gives a feeling that we were watching the film through a window. Overall, it was a mess. Blu-ray 3D release was an improved version of the awkward 3D movie.