Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Movie Review - Clash of the Titans (2010)

Greek Mythology has provided a rich vein of material for filmmakers over the years, and Clash of the Titans is one of the most memorable.  Did it need to be remade though?  Replacing Ray Harryhausen’s masterful stop-motion creature effects with CGI was always going to be a dubious move for fans of the original, while the tendency of blockbusters to have lots of action but little else is a permanent danger.

Though I love the original and tend to think that this was a case of style over substance, I have to admit that the movie did try.  It is of course the tale of Perseus, half-son of Zeus, and his fight against the Gods.   His origin is uncertain as at the start of the movie he’s found by a fisherman, floating in a coffin along with his dead mother.  He grows up as a fisherman, but experiences the wrath of Hades when warriors from Argos destroy a statue of Zeus – resulting also in the death of Perseus’ adopted family, which makes Perseus feel less than friendly towards the gods in general and Hades in particular.

Meanwhile in Olympus, things aren’t going so well for Zeus and his buddies either.   Humans aren’t giving them the love and worship they need, but while wondering what to do about this Hades turns up and encourages causing chaos and death – things he’s learned to live off since being tricked by Zeus into being god of the underworld instead of partying with the others on Olympus.  Feigning a desire to help Zeus, he gains permission to unleash hell on earth.

Eventually Perseus finds out about his heritage from a mysterious, ageless woman called Io, but first refuses to believe it, then refuses to accept it.  His battle to accept what he really is comes across quite well – one of the few genuine attempts at characterisation there is here.  Basically what we have otherwise is a succession of battles with impressive CGI creatures leading to a conclusion where Perseus must face the Krakon, which is supposed to be invincible – even gods can’t beat it.

The action sequences are done well enough and the visual effects are certainly impressive.  In terms of the performances, it’s all pretty solid; Sam Worthington basically reprises his role from Avatar as a fish out of water but determined to do his best anyway; Gemma Arterton is vaguely annoying as Io, but her character more or less works to give an added dimension to proceedings.  Both Liam Neeson and Ralph Feinnes exude charisma as the brothers Zeus and Hades; two sides of the same coin really. 

There is some attempt made to make the characters interesting, with frightened rookies, embittered veterans and a couple of hunters making up the band that travel with Perseus and Io; however the constant battles leave little time for creating characters that viewers are actually going to care about.  The final battle seemed a bit too easy considering that it was against an “invincible” beast.  The music score by Ramin Djawadi wasn’t bad but it suffered from the same problem as the feel in general – it tried to hard to create a feeling of being epic, and thus didn’t quite achieve it.

I guess Clash of the Titans was a bit better than I thought it would be, but it still suffers from blockbuster syndrome.  A little more character development and a little less action would have made it a better film.  Still, it’s worth watching.  (I didn’t see it in 3D – not sure if that would have made much difference.)  There’s a smattering of humour;  one of my favourite parts is where the old soldier Solon draws his bow in Medusa’s lair, sees that he’s standing next to a stone statue of someone in exactly the same pose, and mutters “not exactly confidence inspiring...”.  Such moments are few and far between though.

A side-effect of watching this is that I now want to watch the great Ray Harryhausen movies again – it’s so long since I’ve seen the 1981 version of Clash of the Titans that I can’t really make a meaningful comparison between the two versions.


Spyros: One day, somebody's got to make a stand. One day, somebody's got to say enough...

Perseus: If I do this, I do it as a man.
Draco: But you are not JUST a man!

Hades: I have watched from the underworld... it is time for the mortals to pay!

Hades: You have insulted forces beyond your comprehension...

Io: Perseus, I've watched over you for a long time now. I've always been there...

Zeus: You may not wish to be a god, but after what you've done hundreds will worship you. Look after them. Treat them better than we could. And if you insist on continuing this mundane human existence, I'll not have you do it alone. You're the son of Zeus, after all!

CaptainD - Movie Reviews Blog

1 comment:

Amila Kanchana said...

I must say the movie disappointed me. It must be my taste as well, not just the movie as well. I like your choice of quotes,mostly the last one.