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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Clash of the Titans Delivered Its Kraken...Eventually

Clash of the Titans = 2 and 1/2 out of 5
Spyros: One day, somebody's got to make a stand. One day, somebody's got to say enough.
The idea of remaking the 1981 Greek myth/adventure flick Clash of the Titans was a good one. That film was certainly no classic in terms of being a good movie, but its enjoyable and features great (for its time) stop motion effects by the legend, Ray Harryhausen. The original also featured a talented cast...and Harry Hamlin, who were all giving pretty hammy performances. This included Lawrence Olivier as Zeus, who has now been replaced by Liam Neeson, who could easily unite an audience with the simple command of releasing the Kraken. Well, by the time this remake got to the immortal quote at an hour and thirty minutes in, it was about the only thing to have looked forward to in this pretty mediocre film.

Sam Worthington stars as Perseus, the adopted son of a fisherman, found as a baby in coffin, only to grow up without knowing the true nature of who he is. Grown up, Perseus has no desire to do anything but work as a fisherman with his father, played quite well by Pete Postlethwaite. One day, Perseus and his family role up to the shores of Argos, where the witness a statue of Zeus being torn down in the name of man by the king of the land. This was of course a big mistake, as the perpetrators are immediately punished by Hades, played by Ralph Fiennes, which also results in the pwning of Perseus' entire family.

Zeus: They need to be reminded of the order of things.
Being the only survivor, Perseus is brought forth to the King of Argos, but before Perseus has a chance to catch his breath, the Queen of Argos starts mouthing off about how great the world of man is compared to the gods. Once again, Hades sweeps in to do some house cleaning, but not before noticing Perseus and revealing to him that he is a demi-God. Hades then informs the King of Argos that he has 10 days before the arrival of the world destroyer - the Kraken, where he will then either sacrifice his daughter Andromeda or see his city destroyed.

Now Perseus is recruited to save Argos by traveling to the end of the world in order to seek the one thing that can take down the Kraken. While he wishes to reject help from the other Gods, Perseus is given some gifts and advice from the nymph Io, who has watched over Perseus throughout his life. Perseus travels, along with several other soldiers, will lead him to encounter various creatures and beasts he must best in order to reach his goals.
Perseus: If I do this, I do it as a man.
Draco: But you are not JUST a man!
There are good elements here. I am a sucker for Greek mythology, so I could already taken in some enjoyment on that level. Certain creature effects and set designs are very well accomplished. The movie may cram in exposition in a few spots, but it certainly never feels slow paced. the score had enough oomph to keep it going. And Worthington is certainly a step up from Harry Hamlin. This Perseus may seem very angry and does scowl a lot throughout the film, but he's a better anchor as the lead. Also, the film did manage to have a sense of humor. It certainly didn't make itself feel like a serious affair, and was much better for it.



However, there are plenty of things holding this film back from being better. The action is of course a main factor. Director Louis Leterrier, who headed up a couple Transporter films and The Incredible Hulk decided to really emphasize the clashing for this film, and made sure to keep the camera very close by. Therefore, you have a lot of quick cuts mixed with problems of separating the characters involved on screen.

This leads to the next problem. Beyond Perseus and his mentor character, Draco, played by Mads Mikkelsen, the rest of the group hanging around are all one-dimensional. I couldn't even begin to tell you their names, because I honestly don't think the majority of them had names. There was the older one, the younger one, and a bunch of large/hairy ones in between.

Also, the story, while quick paced, seemed very rushed. It started off fine, gave out some exposition to lay out the story in a various obvious fashion, and then pushed quickly from set piece to set piece, hitting all the beats, but not feeling like there was much depth to the proceedings. This all leads to an ending that should have been way more epic than it was.

Hades: I have watched from the underworld... it is time for the mortals to pay!
As far as the rest of the cast is concerned, it seems like everyone certainly took notes from the original for how to ham it up completely. Neeson and Fiennes work as best they can to outdo each other in their pounds of hair and shiny clothing, while Arterton makes sure to provide an arousing recap of the events for Perseus every few minutes.

So what it comes down to is where I was at when Zeus finally uttered the line. After having Scorpions pound their tails to guitar riffs in the trailer to having this slick new Medusa crack some stones, the film at its Kraken point felt lined up correctly without straying from the path. By this I mean that it hits its beats, does a serviceable job, has some nice looking things, but is nothing to be excited for. Its certainly not a waste of time, but the enjoyable elements of this film will fade quickly from memory.

One final note: I chose to see this film in 2D. There was a rush to convert this feature into 3D in 6 weeks, but I had no desire to see a slightly less flat looking version of this film. The post production 3D process is not something I want to pay extra for if it hasn't been done with a lot of planning and thought out ways to make it work. There is a difference between good and bad 3D, and I wont be suckered.
Zeus: Release the Kraken!

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