Director: Louis Leterrier
Cast: Sam Worthington, Gemma Arterton, Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Alexa Davalos, Danny Huston, Jason Flemyng, Nicholas Hoult, Izabella Miko, Mads Mikkelsen, Pete Postlethwaite
RunTime: 1 hr 46 mins
Released By: Warner Bros
Rating: PG (Some Violence)
Official Website: http://clash-of-the-titans.warnerbros.com/
Opening Day: 1 April 2010
In "Clash of the Titans," the ultimate struggle for power pits men against kings and kings against gods. But the war between the gods themselves could destroy the world. Born of a god but raised as a man, Perseus (Sam Worthington) is helpless to save his family from Hades (Ralph Fiennes), vengeful god of the underworld. With nothing left to lose, Perseus volunteers to lead a dangerous mission to defeat Hades before he can seize power from Zeus (Liam Neeson) and unleash hell on earth. Leading a daring band of warriors, Perseus sets off on a perilous journey deep into forbidden worlds. Battling unholy demons and fearsome beasts, he will only survive if he can accept his power as a god, defy his fate and create his own destiny.
The 1981 Ray Harryhausen original “Clash of the Titans” was notable less for its storytelling than for its stop-motion animation, sort of a last hurrah for the man whose name was best known for B-movie extravaganzas such as “The 7th Voyage of Sinbad”, “Jason and the Argonauts” and “One Million Years B.C.”. Louis Leterrier’s update exchanges the outdated stop-motion animation of the original for state-of-the-art CGI effects to create a big, loud and brash action fantasy spectacle. What it does not do is improve on its stodgy man-against-gods plot.
Beginning with some clunky exposition of the history among the Greek gods Zeus, Poseidon and Hades, the movie introduces us to Perseus (Sam Worthington), the mortal son of Zeus (Liam Neeson), rescued and raised by a fisherman (Pete Postlethwaite) and his family. Their idyllic existence on board their ship is disrupted by Hades’ (Ralph Fiennes) wrath on the humans after some soldiers of Argos, the cradle of civilisation, contemptuously destroy a statue of Zeus. So Hades persuades Zeus to teach the humans a lesson- hand over Princess Andromeda (Alexa Davalos), or their city will be destroyed by the Kraken, a monstrously huge sea creature under Hades’ command.
Despite doubts of his allegiance, Perseus joins a small elite group of warriors from Argos on their epic quest to defeat Hades. That journey would bring them face to face with a disfigured slayer (Jason Flemyng), giant scorpions, djinns, the half-human, half-snake Medusa and of course that behemoth of a creature, the Kraken. And in the midst of all that sound and fury, Perseus will choose his destiny- whether on the side of the gods, or the side of the humans.
Or so the movie would you believe- not the combined screenwriting talents of Travis Beacham (Dog Days of Summer), Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi (Aeon Flux) has managed to make Perseus’ journey less two-dimensional than the original. In fact, director Louis Leterrier doesn’t seem to care very much either, judging by the amount of time he spends in the film developing his lead character. Rather, his focus is on bringing the full force of technology to bear on the various mythical creatures and fantastical battle sequences from start to end.
Thanks to his obvious flair for staging action on a large canvas, Leterrier’s gamble in making his “Clash of the Titans” an unadulterated big-budget action spectacular pays off to a large extent. Aided by terrific production design and art direction, each of the action sequences are exhilarating in their own right, with Ramin Djawadi’s swelling score adding to the thrill. Leterrier’s choice to shoot the film in Tenerife, Wales and Ethiopia also gives it an authentically majestic backdrop especially suited for cinematographer Peter Menzies Jr’s wide lensing.
Once again proving his worth as one of Hollywood’s new-generation of action heroes, Sam Worthington brings his mettle to bear on a role that has shades of his earlier two in “Terminator Salvation” and “Avatar” but is considerably less well-defined. If Worthington’s lead role is underwhelming, the same can also be said of Ralph Fiennes and Liam Neeson’s supporting characters. Indeed, it is a pity that the film largely puts to waste the considerable talents of its thespian cast.
But perhaps the biggest disappointment of this update is the decision to render this in 3D post-production- no doubt owing to the success of “Avatar”. Of all the recent 3D films, “Clash of the Titans” counts as one of the least exciting of the format- all we get is depth of field and little more. This is made even worse in certain 3D cinemas where the 3D glasses work more like sunglasses to make the film several shades darker and the action sequences more blurry. In fact, you’d be better off appreciating the fine visuals of the film in 2D than to choose an additional superfluous dimension that adds nothing to your viewing experience.
Without the hindrance of that extra technological dimension, one would better appreciate Leterrier’s remake for what it is- a big-budget B-grade fantasy epic meant as pure popcorn entertainment. That was also Harryhausen’s original, but for an audience weaned on the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, one would expect more from a movie than just a CGI spectacle. After all, if we wanted just that, “Avatar” alone would more than suffice.
(Expect nothing more than a pure CGI action fantasy and you’ll not be disappointed)
Review by Gabriel Chong