Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Clash of the Titans *1/2
Director: Louis Leterrier
Cast: Sam Worthington, Gemma Arterton, Mads Mikkelsen
Jason Flemyng, Polly Walker, Hans Matheson, Luke Evans
Alexa Davalos, Nicolas Hoult, Danny Huston
Ralph Fiennes, Liam Neeson
Imagine for one second that you're living in ancient Greece, with no television, internet or movies and all you have to entertain yourself are stories.
These stories of course won't tell you about mundane events but about things so fantastical that not only do they make your jaw drop to the floor but also serve as explanations of what's going on in the world around you.
Now before getting too deep into the concept of myth, imagine that centuries later you get these stories, but they are being told by someone who has great editing software, satisfying CGI but not an ounce of imagination.
This would sum up the experience of Clash of the Titans, a remake of the 1981 camp classic which tells of the struggles between men and deities in ancient times.
Sam Worthington (the go to guy for ordinary men-with killer calves-turned unexpected hero) plays Perseus, a demigod, son of Zeus (Neeson) and a mortal woman, who is chosen by the people of Argos to save them from the wrath of the Kraken.
The beast will be released by, god of the underworld, Hades (Fiennes) to teach humans not to defy the rulers of the Olympus.
Of course Hades has secret plans of his own (how could he not when played with such delicious wickedness by Fiennes?) and while Perseus has his adventures down below, the gods go through their own drama.
It should suffice to sum up the film's quality to say that you often might want more of the Olympian drama (probably owed to the quality of the actors playing them) than the struggles of Perseus who seems to fulfill cliché more often than prophecy.
Worthington lacks qualities to make his character interesting; when someone tells him that he has the "best of both worlds" they must be referring to sculpture and athleticism, because he lacks any inkling of humanity and doesn't have the grandiosity to be godlike. The other human characters fare equally, with princess Andromeda (Davalos) being little more than an ornament (while straying greatly from the myth and the original film) and the people Perseus encounters being nothing more than an assortment of great actors (Mikkelsen, Walker and Postlethwaite come to mind particularly) in tepid roles.
Perhaps the film's biggest flaw is in fact its constant ability to underwhelm. With or without added visual dimensions the film never transports you to another place. Visuals for this kind of movie should feel mythical, the ones here are yet another version of what was done in The Lord of the Rings trilogy and 300 to greater effect.
Action sequences are done in the recurrent style of making as many cuts as you can, which never gives us time to grasp the unique aspects of the creatures Perseus fights and every moment that promises excitement is minimized by the director's tendency to make everything seem rushed and easy.
How can a story of its kind be passed on to others when there is no sense of heroism or any special qualities to it?
In the end Clash of the Titans sadly never seems able to comprehend what epic means.