5-Word 365 #229 – Clash of the Titans (2010)

Two years late, but what the hell.

Clash of the Titans

No Titans. Some minor clashing.

Dismayed by a drop in church attendances, Zeus decides to renew humanity’s worship of him and his pantheon by scaring the crap out of them. He gives free reign to Hades to visit Argos and pick up the new catalogue threaten the city-state with total destuction by rampaging Kraken unless their princess Andromeda is sacrificed. It is up to the last remaining members of the King’s Guard and the recently orphaned Perseus to find a way to stop Hades. But, as he is about to find out for himself, Perseus is more that just a fisherman’s adopted son…

Remember the 1981 version of Clash of the Titans? Laurence Olivier and Maggie Smith lounging around in togas playing with dolls while Harry Hamlin went up against a stop-motion Medusa with a mechanical owl and a big shaving mirror strapped to his arm. Now that was top quality filmmaking, relatively speaking at least. It was campy as a campy thing can be but it had wit and charm. This remake from 2010 has Sam Worthington stepping into Hamlin’s minidress – but not his flowing curls – as Perseus takes on a CGI Medusa to foil the twisted plan of Zeus, this time played by Liam Neeson’s fake beard and disturbingly smooth forehead. Worthington is suitably physical in the role, but the part seems to follow a lot of the same beats as his turn in Avatar the year before. The accent is a bit distracting too unfortunately.

Sam leads the Fellowship to Mordor to… No, wait. That’s not right.

I can’t help feeling that Louis Leterrier was trying his best to recreate the campy tone of the original, but it is always going to be hard to pull that off (oh, matron!) with a $100 million VFX budget. The first Clash worked that way because of its slightly ramshackle quality, and by having The Ultimate Luvvie himself as Zeus. Liam Neeson is a very good actor, but camp is not exactly in his wheelhouse. And frankly the less said about that appalling armour he was wearing, the better. It seemed to be made of lens flare! Apparently it was an homage to an anime Leterrier is fond of, but it looked more like Zeus was always being caught on his way to a night out at Xanadu. It was good to see Neeson and Ralph Feinnes back on screen together though, seventeen years after Schindler’s List. Feinnes brought his best scary face to the party as Hades, but he too was let down by an undercooked script.

Every time I see this, I hear the song “Xanadu” in my head. I’m not even slightly kidding. What are the odds he was wearing roller skates on the set?

What would the ancient Greek equivalent of cannon fodder be? Whatever the term is, that’s what most of the Argosians accompanying Perseus turned out to be. For a supposed elite King’s Guard, these guys were terribly easy to wipe out. Only the last four of them even seemed to have names. From that four, Liam Cunningham spent his screentime classing the joint up as per usual; Nicholas Hoult seemed to exist only to get the others to explain what was going on for the benefit of the audience; and Mads Mikkelsen was frankly wasted as Draco. If Sam is just playing Jake Sully again, then Mads is Tsu’tey: the proud warrior who initially distrusts the new guy before being won over by his fighting skills and courage. There was another one of course (yes, I can count to four) but he really didn’t leave much of an impression.

Gemma Arterton as Io: cursed with immortality, and stain-resistant.

Just about every review I read for Clash of the Titans when it was released led me to believe it was mostly crap, and while I didn’t hate it as I thought I might have done – I actually found it moderately enjoyable on a fairly base level – I was still bothered by the fact that it values spectacle over sense. This is best illustrated during the climactic Kraken assault on Argos. Perseus, riding on the Pegasus, is chasing one of the Furies that has stolen the bag with Medusa’s head and they are swooping all around and through and under these massive loops of… something. I couldn’t tell if they were the Kraken’s tentacles (does it have tentacles?) or a long, wound up tail or something else altogether. These grey/blue fleshy appendages just kept appearing out of the water without any rhyme or reason. The sequence was probably in there because somebody thought it would look cool, but without giving proper consideration to setting up why it looked cool. Without that one line of dialogue to explain or the wide shot so we can see exactly what Perseus is flying through, the sequence is just empty calories. That one shot in microcosm is unfortunately indicative of the entire movie.

“Anyone have any Aspirin? I feel like my skull’s been split in two. No more tequila for me!”

A final note to Louis Leterrier: when there are more digital artists named in the end credits of your live-action movie than all other members of the cast and crew combined, maybe your producers are focusing on the wrong thing.

One comment

  1. todayiwatchedamovie · August 17, 2012

    I saw Wrath of the Titans first, so it made me enjoy this one a little more than I would have otherwise.

Go ahead, punk. Make my day.

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