Edited by Dorrin Gingerich
Clash of the Titans tells the story of the hero Perseus (Sam Worthington) as he fights a war against vengeful gods, led by the evil Hades (Ralph Fiennes). When Hades takes the princess Andromeda hostage, the valiant Perseus, aided by his father Zeus (Liam Neeson) and the immortal Io (Gemma Arterton), must summon all his courage to rescue her from the horrible underworld beast, the Kraken.
What Works - Clash of the Titans thundered into theaters in 2010, a big-budget remake of the classic 1981 film. It stars Sam Worthington of Avatar fame, and it relies wholly on spectacle; that’s not all bad. The prologue, for instance, shows beautiful star clusters drifting through space, providing a good backdrop for the beginning of a tale of gods and kings. If you look closely (thanks to the magic of CG), the outlines of the gods seem to emerge from the ether. The narration itself is nothing special, but I suppose even fairly serviceable introductory narration can sound generic after seeing something like Lord of the Rings.
The action scenes usually entertain. As Perseus faces giant scorpions, the Kraken, and all manner of angry gods, most of it looks quite good, though the larger CG creatures looked a bit floaty at times. The classic mirror-shield makes an appearance in Perseus’ battle with the gorgon Medusa, and as the one place in the movie where he has to show some cleverness, I saw this confrontation as the high point of the film, but that’s not saying much.
What Doesn’t Work - Sam Worthington performs terribly Oh wait, everyone performs terribly. Worthington seems to think that if he delivers every line in a growly stage whisper, he can add drama to an otherwise lifeless scene. Even Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes, though somewhat better, sound like they are trying to jazz up their first script read-through.
The script itself brims with paper-thin characters which comprise Perseus’ ragtag band of heroes. Each one has very few lines and even less personality. Thus, one by one, they fulfill their noble purpose: monster food!
Other generic characters jump to conclusions for the sake of moving the plot forward. When Perseus’ human father denounces the gods (“someday someone’s going to have to stand up to them”), it feels eye-rollingly artificial. The grievance feels manufactured, and since no one seems able to convey any emotion from that point on, much of the movie feels inconsequential. Draco (Mads Mikkelsen), leader of the king’s guards, finds a shiny sword in the forest…. obviously it’s a gift from the gods. Brilliant deductions like these, as well as other clichéd lines about Perseus’ destiny, really drag this story down.
Overall - Not worth it. The passable action setpieces cannot elevate the poor acting and script. With so little invested in the characters onscreen, anyone watching might as well fast-forward through the dialogue…Or just be content with the trailer.
A quote from the movie -
Perseus - “If you don’t mind dying, come along.”
Ozal - “It is death who should be afraid of us.”
What do you think? Are there any movies out there that can get by on action alone?