Directed by: Louis Leterrier
Cast: Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Sam Worthington, Gemma Aterton
Running Time: 1 hr 35 min
Release Date: April 2, 2010
PLOT: Man has grown tired living under the tyranny of the Olympian Gods, so mankind attempts to declare their independence by starting a war. Zeus (Neeson) is incensed at man’s ingratitude and instructs Hades (Fiennes) to release the Kraken to teach mankind a painful lesson in humility. Little does Zeus know that Hades is plotting to overthrow him and wreak all kinds of havoc. The man destined to save his kind and protect Zeus’ right to his godly throne is Perseus (Worthington), the son of Zeus and a human woman.
WHO’S IT FOR? Anyone looking for fantastic action sequences sprinkled amidst dithering inanity. Note to the fans of the original: this remake is going to disappoint and irritate you. Note to anyone who knows anything about Greek myths: either don’t see it, or get your inner academic ranter under control before you even set foot in the theater.
EXPECTATIONS: I was looking forward to this for months and months. And in 3D!! WOOO-HOOO! Several times Bayer hinted that he might see it instead and I threatened to withdraw my friendship, I was that freakin’ excited.
Liam Neeson as Zeus: Liam Neeson is a great choice as Zeus, but the writers clearly don’t know what to do with the father of all the Olympian gods. By modern standards, Zeus was a serial rapist, who also had forcible sex with his own daughters, and he was a meglomaniac. He devised horrible eternal tortures and never felt bad and he was powerful and moody and spurious. As a character, no one likes that guy. So, obviously the writers decided to homogenize him a bit so we didn’t have to watch Liam Neeson raping and pillaging and creating Aphrodite from a fountain of his sperm. You take the Zeus out of Zeus and what’s left is watery and boring. Liam does the best he can, but the script basically has him looking regal in shiny armor. It feels like a waste, but maybe that’s how audiences felt when Laurence Olivier played Zeus in the original.
Ralph Fiennes as Hades: I’m sorry, but where in any Greek myth does it describe Hades as the limping, wheezing hunchbacked weasel of Mt. Olympus? I can see the wheels clanking along in the writers’ tiny little pea brains: he’s the god of the underworld, which means he’s evil, which means he’s deformed, which means he talks funny, which means he’s Machiavellian, which means he’s balding, which means…Hades was a kick ass God, but I guess we need the obligatory bad guy. Fine, but let’s not make him some sort of pathetic hybrid of Fiennes’ Voldemort and Egor. Such a dumb waste of good talent.
Sam Worthington as Perseus: Here’s what’s funny–I expected Worthington to be my least favorite part about this movie. But he holds it together the best he can and I thought he was a great choice for Perseus. Obviously, it would’ve been better had he been given an actual script with words on it, but in all the action sequences, he does rule the roost. I officially apologize to Worthington for referring to him as “the poor man’s Channing Tatum.” Score one for Worthington.
Gemma Aterton as Io: Io?! IO?! REALLY? The woman who was raped by Zeus and turned into a cow, she’s our love interest for Perseus? Not only does that fly in the face of the original story (it’s just fine having Perseus lusting after Andromeda), but it’s a pus-filled boil of putrid idiocy. Why not just make up a new character? It’s so counter-intuitive, it’s like having a character based on the Virgin Mary who’s an axe-wielding assassin spy. At one point Io says, “I refused a god’s advances…” yeah, sure ya did, sister. Aterton is very pretty and maybe she’d be enjoyable if it wasn’t such a poke in the eye whenever she popped in as Io to save Perseus or teach him how to defeat Medusa. Luckily, Aterton has perfect hair for the entire odyssey, otherwise she might be a bit more peeved at the whole cow incident.
TALKING: My god, the writing is terrible. Phew! Right? That’s what you’re thinking? Because you’re not going to watch people flapping their yaps, you’re going for the 3D and the action! Bring it on! Except the 3D is lame and there’s not enough action to actually hide all the bland, boring dialogue. At one point they’re all riding along on a giant scorpion (it didn’t make too much sense at the time, either) and Worthington says to a nauseated soldier, “Better to be ON one than IN one!” Har! That’s like fill-in-the-blanks writing for screenplay wannabes.
SIGHTS: When this movie is cool, it blows your socks off. It isn’t like Anaconda where the story was bad, the acting was bad, the writing was bad, and the special effects were bad…the special effects in Clash of the Titans are killer (mostly everything else still applies, though). But this movie is officially cool only two, maybe three times. The rest of it is cut and pasted straight out of other movies, boring and/or stupid. The Jinn are the worst special effects/costuming I’ve ever seen, and the director turned Calibos into Sabertooth. The movie is manic depressive: it’s WAY up, it’s WAY down, it’s WAY back up…Oh, and again, the 3D barely registered. Don’t spend extra money seeing this in 3D. You won’t notice the added dimension.
SOUNDS: Dun-dun-DA! (Characters in peril!) Swoony-swoony-la-la! (Characters thinking about getting it on!) Bum-bum-bum-ba! (Characters walking along for long, boring, uninspired stretches!). It is what it is. It works well with the better action sequences by not getting in anyone’s way, but it isn’t noteworthy.
BEST SCENE: The battle scene with Medusa was so phenomenal, I almost rolled out of my chair and onto the floor. The CGI was spectacular, and the background was to die for.
ENDING: So immensely stupid, I find myself grinding my teeth just thinking about it. Thank goodness, we’ve tied this all into such a neat little package, totally disregarding the original story or the myths behind it. We’ll just make it up as we go.
QUESTIONS: Why? Why, why, WHY when you had such a cool cast and a fun idea and an actual budget?
REWATCHABILITY: I could watch a few of the action sequences over and over again, particularly the battle with Medusa, but I wouldn’t sit through the whole film again. This is definitely one you’d skip through.
Clash of the Titans broke my heart a little. The original was one of my favorite movies of all time as a kid and obviously not because of its quality and thoughtfulness, but because it was so fun. The whole point of a modern remake is taking something that struggled along due to antiquated technology and then improving on it. You don’t take a B movie and then make a slightly shinier B movie, and if you’re going to do that, do NOT get smug about the original. There is a scene where Perseus finds Bubo, the mechanical owl, from the first movie and he holds it up and sneers, “What’s this?” “Just leave it,” a soldier says, and Perseus tosses the owl over one shoulder. Note to the screenwriters: you can only justify smug superiority if you actually succeed in IMPROVING the original story. Don’t make fun of the 1981 crap in your equally crappy 2010 version.
And the butchering of the myths was physically painful. If you don’t know, you won’t care, but I know all those stories. The myths are so juicy that to take a rock and pound all the life out of them makes no sense to me. You take a The Lord of the Rings Peter Jackson-esque approach to Clash of the Titans and you have the coolest, most entertaining movie of the year. But they preferred to just stuff dog sh*t through the back of an electric fan and wait to see what patterns it would make on the other side.
If you’re super excited to see this, I can’t talk you out of it. I know that, because I wouldn’t be able to talk me out of it, and I’m pretty persuasive. So I’ll just say this: if you have the option to save money by not seeing it in 3D, then go that route. Ideally, though, you’d just wait to watch it on cable.
FINAL SCORE: 3/10