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Clash of the Titans Review

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by Simon Crust May 25, 2011

    Clash of the Titans Review

    Once again I find myself looking at a film that has been out for many months and has already been covered twice on site; in addition to that fact, this particular 3D Blu-ray is already available in mainland Europe, even though it has only just now come to our shores – I’ll therefore take a brief look over the synopsis before moving onto the main picture elements.

    In 1981 Ray Harryhausen’s parting gift to the world of stop motion animation Clash of the Titans was released to a slightly unsympathetic audience recently wowed by the latest and greatest effects pioneered by ILM. As the effects were ‘old school’, so too was the story, a romantic fiction of Gods and men loosely based around Greek mythology, a staple for Harryhausen. Perseus, the son of Zeus, falls in love with Andromeda, and will battle demons, gorgons and titans to win her hand – its plot really is a simple as that and whist critically it found a lukewarm reception, the film has remained eminently entertaining due to its inherent charm and gift for the fantastic that all the Harryhausen productions are famous for. Come 2010 and Hollywood’s continuing fascination with all things remake/reimage/retake, Clash of the Titans was given a makeover to bring it ‘up to date’ for modern audiences, and whilst the effects most certainly have been, they forgot the most important element – the heart - which is very much lacking, and thus, all manner of effects and the latest technology have failed to stir the soul anywhere near as much as a nine inch puppet did nearly thirty years ago...

    Sam Worthington plays a beefed up Perseus, the son of Zeus, brought up by a fisherman with prejudice towards the Gods. For the Gods in this take rely on mankind’s prayers and love for their continuance, but man, has forsaken them; turned their backs on their creators citing free will as their right to live. Such behaviour has brought Mount Olympus to its knees and Zeus, once all powerful is fading, and needs to show mankind that the Gods are not only to be respected, but to be feared, and he therefore turns to his brother Hades, God of the Underworld to do his wrath; little does he know that Hades has his own plans, by growing strong upon the fear of man, he plans to overthrow Zeus and rule Olympus himself. And that, dear reader, is the backbone of the story, the very reason for all of Perseus’ woes and why he embarks on his quest to defeat the Kraken. No love, no romance, no betterment, no noble sacrifice – Hades kills Perseus’ family and Purseus’ rage against the Gods sees him seek out the destruction of the Kraken to weaken Hades enough to kill him. Hardly the stuff of legend is it? A pure out for revenge quest. All this is not helped by Worthington’s awful portrayal of such a romantic lead – ok, I understand in this tale Perseus wants nothing to do with the Gods and is fuelled by hate, but a wooden gruff stance growling out the most hackneyed and lamentable dialogue does not make a decent hero.

    There is so much wrong with this film that it’s not fair to lay all the blame at the lead’s feet; the story is protracted and unnecessary, the direction is stilted and forced, the action is cut too fast and dull, there are no likable characters (save the two ‘swords for hire’ and they were removed half way through), the effects are good but they are overbearing and Medusa is not scary – look at Harryhausen’s scene, that is how to execute a tension filled scene where it matters what happens, here, even though Medusa herself is an exact copy, they forgot to instil any drama or tension – but, I guess if you don’t care about anyone, then you don’t care about the scene. And really that sums up the film whole, the plot is so rushed to get to the ‘action’ there is no time to emote with the characters, not that they have any characterisation to emote too, and thus we simply do not care what is happening to them. The plight of Argos falls flat, Andromeda’s choice is meaningless and Perseus’ rushed flight back remains insignificant. The best thing would be if the Kraken squashed the whole film flat to save the world from seeing it.

    There really is little to commend about this interpretation, even the score is repetitive and dull. I first saw this film on a long haul flight on a five inch LCD screen and even to pass the time it was hard work. It beggars belief how such a romantic myth can be botched so badly, even a shot by shot remake of the original with all new effects would have been a better watch ... probably. Consign it to the underworld, that’s where it belongs.