Sunday, April 4, 2010
Review: Clash of the Titans
I've never seen the original Clash of the Titans from the 80s, so I have no idea if it sucked, too. Oops, did I already spoil this review? Cause.... yeah. It sucked. And it's too bad, because this remake had loads of potential. It was drawing from some of the best source material imaginable (Greek mythology), and it boasted a strong and likable supporting cast. However, all of that is pissed away because the creators of this film set out to make a noisy, bankable CG blockbuster instead of a great story, and it's obvious. The run-time is a shade under 2 hours for those with a short attention span, and the film was retrofitted to capitalize on 3D's new-found popularity. So what if the lead has zero personality and the plot is thinly drawn, right?
First off, the title is pretty misleading since no Titans are present in the film. It really should have been called Clash of the Olympians, but even that wouldn't be accurate since this story is about one guy's beef with Hades. Anyway, Clash of the Titans is a retelling of the famous Perseus myth, where a mortal son-o'-Zeus does battle with Medusa and a sea monster (not the Kraken... which is actually Norse... not Greek) to save and wed the princess Andromeda. The movie strays from the myth immediately, as Perseus' quests is anchored on his revenge against Hades for killing his family (including the great Pete Postlethwaite as his dad). Meanwhile, upstairs the gods are pissed because mankind no longer shows them the praise and devotion they need to remain strong. Hades (Ralph Fiennes) convinces Zeus (Liam Neeson) to "RELEASE THE KRAKEN" against Argos in 10 days if they do not sacrifice the princess Andromeda. But this is really a power play against Zeus. Hades relies on the fear of mortals to remain strong, and the destruction of Argos will make him powerful enough to overtake Zeus and Olympus. But are we going to spend some time to flush out this cool conflict?!?!? NO!!! In fact, the gods pretty much sit there and do nothing. Despite getting a look at their cool war room, there's no point in spending any time in Olympus. Poseidon and Hermes get 1 line each, and we hear dick from Athena, Ares, Hephaestus, and all the other interesting gods in the Pantheon.
But okay, I understand this is a story about Perseus, not the gods. That's why I'm further enraged that they cast Sam Worthington to play Perseus, because really he's just playing Sam Worthington, the same lifeless, generic action hero we saw in Avatar. Perseus believes that mankind knows better than the gods, and he sets out to make them pay for ruining his life. Him and his group of warriors race from location to location, and there's really no time for the audience to process what's happening. When my mind was allowed to take stock of the situation, I couldn't help but feel like I was watching an RPG game. The movie had all the elements of Final Fantasy. The game has magic items ("You have picked up the SCORPION SHIELD!"), summon spells ("ummm... release the level 40 kraken?"), boss battles (Medusa... good thing I brought the softs to counteract petrify), and a ton of world map traveling. The group consisted of the stoic, boring hero, the seasoned veteran/mentor, the weird creature, the comic relief guy, and the warrior chick that the hero has feelings for BUT NEVER PURSUES HER (and similar to FF7's Aeris, she dies in an abrupt, almost laughable fashion). The best character is Mads Mikkelsen, who is most known for his role as the cool guy who dies in King Arthur and the cool guy who dies in Casino Royale.
At the expense of the great supporting cast, Clash of the Titans rushes through it's story in order to tell us.... what? What point were they trying to make? Perseus never needed the gods, and only wants revenge against Hades for murdering his family. He turns against the gods often in the film because he believes this a quest that man must do... but he does utilize the magical gifts from the gods in order to win.... and he also accepts aid from other demigods. Hmmm.... what about Zeus' point? He needs man's worship to survive, but the events of the film only push man to further fear the gods. If anything, they'll only praise the gods because they are scared of them, not because they love them. To them, man came in and saved the day, so really they might think that they don't need the gods at all! That's why this film is so frustrating. This is all started because Zeus wanted to punish mankind for their hubris. But his actions only lead them to fear Hades (making Zeus weaker) and love/worship Perseus/mankind (also makes Zeus weaker). If he had known this, and he should have, then why not bring out the force of Olympus to stop Hades? That would make mankind love the Olympians more. Whatever...
And that's how I feel about Clash of the Titans. Whatever.
P.S. - The relationship in this movie between Zeus, Hades, and mankind draws many many similarities to LOST's Jacob, Smokey, and mankind. But that's how bored I was with this film. I spent more time thinking about how Greek mythology, Arthurian legend, LOST, God of War, Final Fantasy, and other swords n' sandals epics did it better than Clash of the Titans.