It should have been a no-brainer. A Greek myth about a hero being called upon to battle the gods while also fighting with various creatures is a concept begging to be made in to an amazing movie. “Clash of the Titans” is the Harryhausen movie that fans continue to love but also secretly wanted to see remade… only for a curiosity. We wanted to know what it would look like, but we didn’t want it to happen. And then we were given the bright idea by Warner to not only remake the Harryhausen opus but turn it in to a franchise.
And then it took a turn for the worse. There’s no semblance of actual storytelling to this remake, it’s just a series of stunts and big battles that completely loses touch with the wonder of the original film. So now Perseus looks like a clean cut Marine who raided the wardrobe for “300” for a costume party, was transferred in to Sparta dressed as Greece for a holiday to take on generic and generally forgettable monsters, all of whom are made to look even less convincing than the models in Harryhausen’s original. And there’s going to be two more! One aspect about the new “Clash” that many will realize going in is that subtlety is not its greatest trait.
Every bit of dialogue is filled with pointless exposition and heavy handed dramatic speeches that do nothing to motivate us to sit and watch beyond the special effects, and even then it’s all pretty meaningless to endure. And as is the formula for modern “epics,” rather than allow the audience to experience the story, we’re given back story after back story with heavy emphasis on the mythos that the writers somehow feel they need to extrapolate in every single instance. After a four minute opening conveying the war of the gods, we enter in to the story where Zeus and Hades explain their battle, go in to the life of Perseus who is explained the plight of the gods, and again and again, ad nauseum.
The British speaking Greeks are either comically dirt filled and ugly or made up and glittery providing an on the nose explanation of who the primary characters are supposed to be and who aren’t. When that clumsy imagery isn’t tattering the screen, we’re left with hokey and hammy dialogue delivered with shocking deadpan reaction from the likes of Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes, both of whom try to salvage their small parts on-screen but do very little to remind us that they’re acting heavyweights capable to bringing class to any film they enter.
Sadly the remainder of the film is left in the hands of Alexa Davalos and Sam Worthington, one of whom gets little to no screen time and is left to do nothing but recite prophecies and watch helplessly while Worthington, in typical fashion, just resembles a generic period warrior. With a back story deriving from Conan, Worthington’s Perseus is a wooden and cardboard hero with the cliché prophesized origin where he’ll lead his people to bring down a mortal enemy, and it becomes rather tedious from thereon in.
Louis Leterrier’s direction is clumsy and often times disorienting as he implements the use of shakey cam quite often to hide the fact that the scenes, particularly the action scenes, have no real energy present for the audience. Whenever the film has a chance to really jump at the audience and offer actual thrills and wonder, it exchanges it for more heavy handed scenes and over explaining. Pegasus barely has a role in the story and is reduced to nothing more than a deus ex machina, Perseus is guided by a woman who watches over him and appears at convenient moments of battle to provide dramatic and sexual tension, and incessant bickering among Perseus and his soldiers who seek the Kraken.
“Clash of the Titans” could have and should have been an exciting epic adventure, and instead it just takes itself much too seriously and never allows the audience to become compelled by anything taking place on-screen. And just when it purports to be a stern epic, it conjures up campy moments including Perseus’ father and son bickering session with Zeus, the obvious objects tossed at us as a cue to the 3D device, and the Djinn who are ultimately interesting characters but poorly conceived. Ultimately, the folks behind the production have no idea what to peg down and what not to. Sub-plots are pointless, character conflicts are absurd, romantic tension is obligatory, and the confrontations with Meduse and Calibos that are built up from the opening are horribly anti-climactic and abrupt.
“Clash of the Titans” is a product heaped in commercialism and consumerism with none of the wonder and awe that Harryhausen stamped on his original film, and it shows with what is in the end, nothing but a pointless exercise in monotony and a waste of energy. When the highlight of the film is a cameo by Bubo, it’s a clear indicator that time has been painfully wasted. “Trash–er–Clash of the Titans” is visually mediocre and abysmally written with hammy acting, over the top dialogue, and actors who look embarrassed to be on-screen muttering such sophomoric exposition. With a franchise imminent, I look forward to more of Worthington’s yawn inducing performances, and directors fetishizing of a man who brings nothing to the screen for fans of film and action cinema.