Clash of the Titans (2010)
April 6, 2010
Recommended listening for this review:
“There is a God in You”
“One day, somebody’s got to make a stand. One day, somebody’s got to say enough.”
Enter Perseus (Sam Worthington), infant found at sea who is adopted and raised by a humble fisherman (Pete Postlethwaite) and his family. The Greek gods have been negligent, and Perseus has spent his entire life living off what meager scraps his poor family can afford. The King and Queen of Argos are also sick of the gods, (though their actions are motivated by arrogance, not justice) sending soldiers throughout the Mediterranean to burn temples and topple images of the gods. It is at one of these Zeus toppling sessions that Hades (Ralph Fiennes), takes revenge on the soldiers of Argos, and Perseus’ family is killed. Enraged at the loss of everything he ever knew and loved, Perseus swears vengeance on Hades.
Enter the King and Queen of Argos, who have an extended scene of pissing testosterone all over the place and claiming that the city of Argos rivals Olympus in greatness, and that their daughter Andromeda (Alexa Devalos) is as beautiful as the gods. Re-enter Hades, who quickly reminds the arrogant rulers of their mortality. He curses Argos, for if they do not sacrifice the Princess within ten days the Kraken will destroy the city. It comes out that Perseus is the son of Zeus, a demigod, and is Argos’ only hope for salvation. After some deliberation and help from the immortal Io (Gemma Arterton, who sounds just like the narrator from Fable), our heroes make the dangerous trek to the home of the all knowing Stygian witches. Perseus and his group then journey through the underworld to defeat Medusa, whose severed head is the only way to defeat the Kraken.
Clash of the Titans plays out a little like its tagline: Titans Will Clash. It’s just poorly thought out. Sure there’s some great action and special effects, but little else is worth remembering. The plot is adequate, the acting is mixed, the pacing is too quick, and the are characters bland. Perseus is a run of the mill “angry hero bent on revenge”, most of the party is killed before uttering a few sentences, and the conflict between god and man just doesn’t make sense. Even the action is lackluster at times, with the Scorpion attack screaming green-screen-fight. Besides its cinematic triumphs in battling the Medusa and the Kraken, Clash of the Titans doesn’t surprise or excite. After the phenomenal trailer for this film, I expected something like 300 on steroids; just two hours of Sam Worthington carving up bad guys and battling monsters to a rocked out soundtrack. Sadly, Clash is nowhere near the level of 300 in story, character development, or even action. Heck, even Wonder Woman was a lot better (that’s right, I said it). Even the soundtrack felt incredibly generic (and lacked rock music, but I didn’t mind that).
Before I beat up on it any further, I should say that I did enjoy Clash of the Titans on some level. It was a summer epic with some great special effects and features one of the largest monsters you will ever see on-screen. It works well as a “turn off your brain and enjoy the one-liners” action flick. But it could have been so much more had Clash developed some clarity. The point of this movie is obscure beyond compare. On one side, we have the Greek gods who need the prayers of men to “fuel their immortality”. Basically, (except for Zeus), the gods are big jerks who want worship without doing anything in return. On the other side, we have Perseus’ family who is tired of sacrificing to the gods in vain. That’s fair enough, right? But then the King and Queen of Argos decide to give the gods a big middle finger, and they receive divine punishment. That sounds fair enough too. And in the middle is Perseus, demigod. He spends most of the movie refusing to use his divine abilities because “I’m going to do this as a man, not a god”. Perseus and his crew keep making comments like “we’re taking a stand against the gods, cause they’re big jerks! we’ll show them! argh!” So, who is really at fault here? The gods for being negligent, or humanity for their arrogance and stupidity?
In the end, Perseus is “true to himself”. He accepts the gifts of the gods because Perseus himself is a demigod, but he refuses to live on Olympus because he will not “become like them.” So, Perseus remains god and man in one. (Does anyone else smell a lazy, half-awake Christ theme here?) So what is the point of Clash of the Titans? Curse the gods? Don’t rely on their help, but don’t provoke them to anger either? Or is the message simply “be true to yourself” ? Perhaps the spiritual ambiguity here reflects the broken moral compass of our modern society. I’d like to say that we can learn a few lessons here about trying to defy God, but Clash is too confused about who God and Man are to provide any solid answers.
Clash of the Titans has three or four impressive segments amidst a wash of special effects and poorly developed characters. I saw it in 3D, and while I enjoyed it, this was nowhere near the 3D experience of Avatar. Not even in the same ballpark. I’m glad I saw it in the theater, I had fun, I enjoy quoting the silly lines, but I won’t be back for a second helping anytime soon. My advice: Just have fun and don’t take it seriously. And really, how can you with lines like “Release the Kraken!”
2.5/5 Zipped Lips – Definitely crack some jokes during this one.
Clash of the Titans plays out like its tagline: Titans Will Clash. – It’s just poorly thought out. The cinematic highlights of the venomous Medusa and colossal Kraken are enough to make it a fun action-epic, but aren’t enough to make Clash of the Titans a memorable installment in the Fantasy Epic genre.