About halfway through Clash of the Titans, I had a sobering thought. Somewhere out there was a group of kids watching this movie and thinking that Greek mythology was totally ripping off The Lord of the Rings.
Since watching it, I’ve been unsure exactly what to think about this one. I didn’t not enjoy it, but it became obvious very early on that I wasn’t watching the fist-pumping adrenaline rush that I had been shown in the trailers. And by the end of the day I had almost forgotten that I had watched it at all. I think the biggest problem is that the movie becomes so predictable you just end up sitting there waiting for the entire thing to go through its motions.
In the beginning, we see Perseus, played by Sam Worthington — and who told him he could be in so many movies, huh? — and his family of poor fisherman stumble upon a group of soldiers destroying a statue of Zeus. The Greeks have finally had enough of the Gods killing their sons and having sex with their wives so they’ve decided to stop worshiping them. As the soldiers pat themselves on the back and congratulate each other on how awesome they are, Hades, God of the Underworld, appears in a cloud of black smoke and kills EVERYBODY, including Perseus’ family. Lesson learned: Perseus now hates the gods.
When Hades tells Zeus and the other gods what’s happened, well, they just can’t have it. Why? Because they need man’s prayers to sustain them for some reason. Zeus tells Hades to unleash all sorts of nastiness on them and in ten days time, they’ll really close the deal by sending in the Kraken (!) to smash things up and…well, probably make everyone hate them even more. Anyway, Perseus, who’s been discovered to be a demigod and is now caught up in this whole, nasty business is sent on a quest to stop the Kraken and put mankind back in the gods’ good graces. But wait. Aren’t the gods responsible for his family’s death? Man, sounds like Perseus has quite the OBSTACLE to OVERCOME.
So our heroes embark on their quest. The actors all give solid performances and are fairly likable. Where things start to fall apart is with those playing the gods. While we get to see the entire Pantheon, only a few are featured. And by featured I mean they stand around in their throne room on Mount Olympus, looking stern and talking forcefully. Liam Neeson, but especially Ralph Fiennes just come off as parodies of the characters they’re playing. Maybe that’s inevitable when you’re playing characters who are the literal embodiments of things like lightning and power and death, but still, these are good actors. No, no. I mean really good actors. Remember Schindler’s List? For me it seemed like they looked at their characters and said, “How hard could it be?” Well, pretty hard, actually.
All things considered the movie looks pretty slick. Some sequences, like the big rock ’em sock ’em fight with the giant scorpions is pretty spectacular. Others, like Zeus and the others gods on Olympus puts off a real Star Wars prequel vibe. I was kind of amazed at how good some characters looked in costume, like Sam Worthington and Gemma Arterton, compared to others like Ralph Fiennes as Hades and Jason Flemyng as Acrisius. Fiennes looks ridiculous in his bald head cap and I was constantly trying to find the tags on whatever Halloween mask they had Flemyng dressed up in. Seriously, I think that if the filmmakers had dressed him up in his costume from Snatch I would have walked out more satisfied.
Perseus has to come to terms with his divine birthright and at the same time stop the Kraken with his merry band of Greeks. Throughout the movie there’s never any question as to whether or not they’re going to be able to pull it off. And that’s okay, I guess. After all, the movie is a remake, so how much suspense could we possibly expect? But the pitfall here is that we end up waiting, counting down the minutes until we get that cool shot at the end with the Kraken who looks like he’s come straight out of Resident Evil coming out of the water and smashing stuff. It’s exciting and fun to watch, and then it’s over. If unoriginal is too harsh a word then try unspectacular. The movie’s making all sorts of money on its opening weekend, so it’s already a success in that sense. And it’ll probably stay on top until Iron Man 2 comes along next month to destroy the universe. But once Clash of the Titans is gone, I have a feeling it’ll be gone for good. B-