Clash of the Titans 2.5D

3 04 2010

Sam Worthington pouts his way through another underwhelming “epic”.

Before I crap all over this movie, let’s do the trailers!

Furry Vengeance: Just go away, Brendan Fraser. You have squandered all of the goodwill you earned from me with Gods and Monsters and the first Mummy. Since then, it’s just been bomb after bomb. “The animals are out to get me!” So is your agent, apparently.

The Losers: It’s funny, this trailer being shown right before The A-Team, because they look pretty similar. The cast is interesting, especially since Chris Evans has been cast as Captain America. Let’s see if he can play more than “cocky douchebag”.

The A-Team: This looks ridiculous, but in the good way. They’ve got a good cast, especially with the inspired choice of District 9’s Sharlto Copley as Murdock. It could go either way, but I have a feeling about this one.

Iron Man 2: I’m going to see it, you’re going to see it, everyone is going to see it.

Salt: Angelina Jolie plays *surprise!* a badass, this time a badass C.I.A. agent accused of being a badass Russian assassin. It could be a neat little mind game, or it could fall completely flat. I will probably wait for cable/Netflix.

****Spoiler Alert****

Now we come to Clash of the Titans. To say I’m going to crap all over this one is a little harsh, as there were some things I liked about it. Mt. Olympus is beautiful, as are the gods and goddesses themselves. Liam Neeson’s Zeus is regal and arrogant as you’d imagine the king of the gods to be, though the super-shiny armor was a little distracting. As Hades, Ralph Fiennes oozes malevolence, and the effects surrounding his entrances/exits are some of the best in the film. Mads Mikkelsen plays Draco, Perseus’s mentor in the art of war with the air of a gruff but lovable Army Sergeant, and gives one of the best performances in the movie. The female love interest/exposition wrangler, the ageless Io, is played by former Bond girl Gemma Arterton, who does an admirable job of making pages and pages of explanatory dialogue sound interesting. It’s notable that Io, not Andromeda, is the love interest of this version of the film, a change I will discuss a little later.

The man who should have been the hero.

The Medusa fight is pretty cool. She moves much more like a snake than in previous versions of the character, with a gnarly bow and deadly aim. The turning-to-stone effect is done well, with the transformation being a little slower and looking like it hurts a bit before the character is all rock. It’s shot almost like a horror movie, with the soldiers trying to stay together but easily being separated and picked off one by one by the deadly Gorgon. The result is a suspenseful, beautifully shot scene that gets more and more tense until its climax. The scorpion battle is also rad, though it does go on a bit too long.

Totally not an image from World of Warcraft. Totally.

By now it’s no surprise that the Kraken gets released. Its attack on Argos is artfully staged, especially when it’s used as a backdrop to the aerial/ground chase between Perseus and the Harpies. The giant monster destroying a city can easily fall into cliché and camp, but director Louis Leterrier makes the scene exciting by not cutting his shots into a million pieces and flashing them up at the screen in 1-2 second flickers like SOME directors would *cough*michaelbay*cough*. Instead he lets us linger on all of the wonders of Greek mythology, and that is the movie’s greatest strength. Even if a scene is too short (most of the Olympus scenes and Perseus becoming a member of the Arogisan army are guilty of this), they are beautifully crafted shots that let us see how awesome Greek mythology can be on film.

Irritatingly, the only pic on the internet that isn't just a picture of Sam Worthington screaming.

Now, on to the bad stuff, and unfortunately, there’s plenty. The story jumps around too much, leaving huge gaping plot holes. The most glaring of these is the issue of Perseus’s parentage, which is explicitly laid out for the audience, but not necessarily the other characters. Even if the Arogosians heard Hades mention “Your Father” to Perseus, I’m not so sure they would so quickly accept it. Also, they replaced the romantic plot of the original with a pretty rote revenge tale. No longer does Perseus want to save his lady love Andromeda, now he just wants revenge on Hades for offhandedly killing his family. The dialogue is also fairly weak, with one person after another spouting off about “Man ruling man” and bitter diatribes about how they are tired of being thankful to the gods for creating them. With the loss of the romance (except for the limp attraction between Io and Perseus), and all of the angry shouting, we are left with a grim, broody revenge movie that wants to be a fun popcorn flick. The one scene that they directly inject some camp into is just atrocious, a callback to the original Clash’s mechanical owl, Bubo. It’s jarring and out of place, and any good editor would have left it for the outtakes on the DVD, where it so obviously belongs.

Bubo watches sadly as a generation of angry, broody children are born.

There’s tons of dialogue in this film that just come off as anachronistic, bland, or just plain doofy. Everyone but Worthington speaks in an English accent, while Worthing uses his natural Australian accent. I don’t expect everyone to speak Ancient Greek, but a little uniformity, especially since all of these characters are supposedly from the same area of Greece, wouldn’t have hurt. I guess it’s no worse than Gerard Butler’s Spartan-by-way-of-Scotland brogue featured in 300. Most of the conversations in the movie are either exposition, rants about how the gods suck, or filler to be cut short by an action scene. The soldiers Perseus leads are given a few good quips, but you’re only given the barest glimpse of character before they’re wiped out like the red shirts we knew them to be. Two goofy hunters join the expedition to retrieve Medusa’s head, and from their introductory scene I was led to believe they would be comic relief, but like everyone else in the movie they are practically faceless and interchangeable with the rest of the companions.

Spoiler Warning! He doesn't make it. I don't even remember his name.

Films that are shot in 2-D should stay 2-D. Is that too much to ask? When you just slap 3-D onto an existing film, you end up with stuff like Clash of the Titans, and Alice in Wonderland. 3-D should be done to give a film depth, to immerse you in the world, like Avatar. This film would have been perfect for that, if it had been made with the format in mind. Make no mistake, it’s a good-looking movie, but the 3-D is just wasted. It’s not even noticeable that you’re watching a 3-D movie most of the 2 hour running time; you’re just left with the feeling that things look kind of…off. It’s a waste of three or more dollars in most places to see this with those big, dumb, uncomfortable glasses, and honestly, if I hadn’t seen it in 3-D, I might have enjoyed the movie a little more.

Get ready to see him make this face for 2 hours.

My biggest problem with the movie is, of course, with the character of Perseus and the “actor” playing him, Sam Worthington. Perseus, in this version, is the adopted son of a fisherman whose entire adopted family is murdered by Hades, just for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Thus, he spends the rest of his movie wearing his “angry” pout, and refusing the awesome gifts that Zeus and the other gods leave for him, including what is basically a lightsaber and Pegasus. Even as his posse of lovable-yet-doomed comrades is being wiped out by monster after monster, whiny Perseus refuses to become “like them”, i.e. use his demigod powers to kick ass. This would have been an interesting way to go with the theme of the movie, if the script had held to it. But as soon as Calibos, a monster of a man played by Jason Flemyng, stabs Io, Perseus goes all 300 on him, apparently forgetting that his entire crew just died so that he could pretend he was just a regular dude. And when Zeus hands him Io back at the end, he gives a shit-eating grin like he’s won twenty bucks on a lotto ticket, instead of being reunited with his lady love. This could, of course, be because their “relationship” was completely inconsequential to the story, and never really developed in the first place.

I actually couldn't find a picture of the two of them together. That tell you something?

Sam Worthington. When will Hollywood stop believing that this block of wood sells tickets? He sucked in Terminator: Salvation, he sucked in Avatar, and he sucks in this. Basically, he has two modes: angrily brooding, and angrily confused. Every line is spoken as if he’s trying the force the words to be cooler, more extreme. Call me petty, but he’s a great big douche and I want him off my movie screen. The fact that I’ve had to sit through seven hours (Termiator+Avatar+Clash=sad Charlie) of his ridiculous surly, petulant hero impression pains me to no end. Some of you people out there like him, though, so I guess I’ll end up suffering through even more. Especially here, where he’s forced to share scenes with incredible actors like Liam Neeson and Mads Mikkelsen, his complete lack of talent is depressingly obvious.

Acting!

Can I recommend this movie? Not really. It’s not that it was bad, what’s frustrating about this new Clash of the Titans is that it’s so middling. Good acting is subverted by bad, beautiful effects are marred by atrocious dialogue, and end result is that the whole thing just sort of exists, a grimmer fantasy than the original, with none of original Harryhausen version’s kitschy charm. If you do go see it, please, do yourself and your wallet a favor and skip the 3D. It’s barely noticeable on screen, except for a few shots that were obviously shoehorned in.

P.S. – The best part of the film for me was while Perseus, looking up at the sky, sees lightning and grips his chest as though it pains him. My wife leaned over and whispered “It must be his Terminator heart.” I could barely contain my laughter.

More facial expressions than Sam Worthington is capable of.

P.P.S. – If you must go see a movie this weekend, go see Hot Tub Time Machine. I didn’t review it because I honestly didn’t think it needed reviewing. You know if you want to see it or not, and that’s a pretty good barometer of who this movie is for. It’s a stupid premise, and everyone in the movie knows it, but the incredible cast (John Cusack, Craig Robinson, Rob Corddry, and Clark Duke) pulls it off with ease. The wife and I laughed ourselves retarded.

Follow me on Twitter! @CharlieHamlin

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