Apr 5, 2010

[Movies] Clash of the Titans (2010)

Clash of the Titans (2010)I've always been a big mythology fan - I guess I should blame my grandmother for this. She got me hooked on The Wonder Book at a very early age and later on she made me watch classic movies like Helen of Troy, Jason and the Argonauts and of course Clash of the Titans.

That movie was just so kickass, although as a young kid it gave me a few nightmares. Of course when you examine the movie in the light of modern special effects extravaganzas like Avatar, well, it certainly looks rather comical. But it was amazingly enriched with stop-motion animation and a very rich story that was a decent hodge-podge of various myths tied together in one decent story.

So when they announced plans of remaking this Hollywood classic, I was both excited and scared by the prospect. Given Hollywood's recent track record for reimaginations and adaptations, well, I'm sure you understand my initial hesitation.

And it wasn't too far off the mark.

Cover of "Clash of the Titans"Cover of Clash of the Titans

Clash of the Titans is a 2010 remake of the classic 1981 film of the same name. The movie was directed by Louis Leterrier of The Incredible Hulk fame.It took a while before this movie got off the ground but after starting and stopping as a project since 2002, it finally came to light this year.

In this update of the original movie, the story remains centered around a young Perseus (Sam Worthington) who realizes his birthright as a son of Zeus (Liam Neeson). He gets dragged into the ongoing struggles of mankind to throw off the shackles of allowing the gods to control their lives. However Queen Cassiopeia (Polly Walker) goes too far in her arrogance by declaring that her daughter, the princess Andromeda (Alexa Davalos) is more beautiful than the goddess Aphrodite herself. Hades (Ralph Fiennes) descends upon them with the permission of Zeus to punish the humans for their disrespect of the gods and demands that either they sacrifice Andromeda to the Kraken or the city will be destroyed. He also reveals that Perseus is a demigod before leaving and thus King Cepheus (Vincent Regan) then begs Perseus to aid the city and find a way to defeat the Kraken.

After some convincing by a fellow demigod Io (Gemma Arterton), he takes up the quest to defeat the Kraken along with a small honor guard of soldiers from Argos as led by Draco (Mads Mikkelsen). Together, the group end up facing a variety of challenges thrown against them by Hades who seeks to kill Perseus lest he find a way to interfere with his plans.

First of all, my partner and I only watched the movie in 2D given all the early buzz about the movie panned its 3D treatment since it had been done in post production as opposed to actually filming the movie with 3D cameras. From a visual effects perspective, I have to admit that I wasn't all that impressed with the movie and I could see that 3D wouldn't have added more to it. I'm not saying the effects were bad - I guess they just didn't quite come together for me visually.

The story was the biggest weakness for me. I know that the original Clash of the Titans was just a bastardization of various Greek myths put together, but this felt like a bastardization of the original movie. I don't quite know how to describe my sentiments in this area, but from a mathematical perspective it's like getting the average of several averages. The end result is generally right but you know that it's not quite accurate and in some cases just plain wrong. The movie added in this whole man against the gods angle that wasn't the focal point at all in the original story. I'm not sure why the writers decided to go with this direction for the story, but I don't think it came out right.

The gods were very...underwhelming. Reading about the production of the movie, it's clear that sometime in the past it was decided to downplay the interaction of the gods, which I can appreciate. Troy was another movie covering the period and there they totally dropped the god angle. In this movie, we had the gods present, albeit garbed in medieval plate mail for some reason, but they didn't really do anything. The most active god in the mix was Hades, and he was supposedly the weakest of them all given his banishment to the Underworld. If you're going to bring in the Greek pantheon into a story, you kind of expect them to interact with one another and somehow get involved in things. Plus they had a really awesome meeting venue with a kickass representation of the world and all these statues representing every human on the planet and yet all they did was just stand around the circle and...shine. What is this, Twilight?

And lastly there's the conundrum of Sam Worthington. He's certainly positioning himself as the prime candidate for male lead in any science fiction or fantasy movie these days and he's pretty nice to look at. However, he also has the uncanny ability to avoid appearing shirtless in a movie without having a metal endoskeleton. It seems he had a few topless moments earlier in his career but in more recent history, he's dodged the bullet time and time again. What's up with that?

Clash of the Titans doesn't live up to the awesomeness of the original movie but it's still entertaining in its own right. It's a fun mindless movie to enjoy for the weekend but just avoid thinking about the plot too much. Stick to watching a standard version of it and don't go to the effort of shelling out extra money for the "3D" or IMAX versions of the movie. It gets 2 badly reimagined mythological monsters out of 5.

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