Clash of the Titans (2D) reviewed

Clash of the Titans, from The Incredible Hulk and Transporter director Louis Leterrier, is a remake of the 1981 mythological fantasy film that seized the hearts and imaginations of many children of the 80’s. This is not to say that the original Clash of the Titans was especially good. The film – loosely based on the myth of hero Perseus slaying the Gorgon, Medusa, and rescuing princess Andromeda from sacrifice – was highly cheesy and dated-looking even at its time of release.


Still though the original Clash of the Titans was charming in terms of its straight-faced silliness and the way it happily embraced stylisation. Clash of the Titans 2010 isn’t charming – it’s trying too hard to be macho and aggressive for that – but it’s undeniably cheesy and highly stylised, although not quite to the same extent as that other cartoony Ancient Greek film, 300.

The new Clash of the Titans is also likely to be considered dated very soon. It’s worth noting up front that the CGI-special effects in the film are very inconsistent. While some creations have been perfectly crafted, others look like rush jobs. So while the giant scorpion attack is surprisingly the most exciting, engaging sequence in the film, every single shot of citadel Argos looks disappointingly artificial. And although Medusa moves fantastically it’s a miscalculation to make her beautiful.


Performances and characterisation in Clash of the Titans are also a mixed bag. Sam Worthington’s buzz cut demigod Perseus is filled with such rage at the murder of his adoptive family by Hades (Ralph Fiennes) that he doesn’t get to enter any other emotional modes. Without an opportunity to express one single moment of cocky charm, Worthington is far less likeable here than he was in Avatar or even Terminator Salvation.

Liam Neeson is solid as arrogant God King Zeus, and Gemma Arterton is classically beautiful, if annoyingly voiced, as helpful Io. Ralph Fiennes, meanwhile, as Hades, the film’s villain, improves as the film progresses. Starting off as a mincing, robe-swirling sycophant to rival Grima Wormtongue in The Lord of the Rings, it soon emerges that Hades’ whispering and cowering is in fact an act to deceive his brother.

Casino Royale’s Mads Mikkelsen has probably the most sharply defined character of Clash of the Titans’ supporting cast: a scarred, cynical military commander who is more than happy to declare war on the callous Olympian gods. He is also however lucky to be gifted with a hefty chunk of screen time in a very actor-overstuffed film. Given the number of potentially very interesting and amusing characters who pop up and disappear without any development in Clash of the Titans – including Rome’s Polly Walker as Andromeda’s mother – presumably audiences should expect an extended director’s cut on DVD.


As it currently stands, the ethnic barbarians in the film, who are clearly intended as comic relief, are underutilised; as are arguably the coolest characters in the film, the enigmatic, magic-using desert demons, the Djinn. Disappointingly too, the Pantheon of Greek Gods gets even less screen time in the new Clash of the Titans than in the old film.

This review may sound incredibly negative but Clash of the Titans is still fun. Apart from a jarring ending that abruptly aborts a potentially epic confrontation, the film is undemanding popcorn entertainment perfect for an evening out. It’s just easy to look beyond the movie’s slick surface offerings to notice its lost potential. Clash of the Titans could have been a rousing and engaging fantasy adventure that improved drastically on its source material. Instead it’s just as flawed and dumb as the original.

Comments

Tim said…
I think you've summed it up really well. And to be honest, the most enjoyment this movie gave me was the opportunity to diss it amongst friends at work.
Pfangirl said…
Thanks for commenting, Tim. Nothing like the ability to rip a film to shreds among friends. Watching a bad movie on your own just isn't quite the same:)
MiMi said…
just saw clash of the titans and yes your review fits perfectly. found your blog post through google. love the way you write.

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