Cinema News and Reviews for the Rest of Us

Review: Clash of the Titans

Clash of the Titans is not a terrible movie.  It’s a perfectly digestible piece of Hollywood schlock with a few exciting scenes and some creative takes on Greek mythology.  But it arrives with a 3-D transfer so shoddy and so shameless in its attempt to cash in the post-Avatar 3-D craze that whatever escapist entertainment value it has is dampened and its numerous flaws seem all the more prominent.  If you haven’t seen the film yet and intend on seeing it, save yourself a few bucks and see it in the traditional 2-D format.  The 3-D was added in post-production solely for the purpose of leeching off Avatar’s mojo, and the result is often muddied visuals and a format transfer that does nothing to enhance the overall viewing experience.

But the film’s primary problems lie in the script.  A reimagining of the wonderfully cheesy 80s original, this versions steers the story in a more revenge-oriented direction while keeping Perseus’ mission of rescue the lovely Andromeda as a driving plot force.  The problem with this is that the love between Perseus and Andromeda is impossible to feel.  You never fully believe that the hero would go through all he goes through to rescue this woman, which results in a dead love story that strips the film of its dramatic momentum.  This may be a healthy dash of cynicism on my part, but the downplaying of the rescue component feels like a faux-feminist studio note intent on abandoning the notion that the woman always needs saving.  And that’s fine, but not for this story.  If you want to make a Clash of the Titans movie, Perseus and Andromeda need to clearly love each other, and that love must inspire Perseus to take on some pretty huge trials. It’s a traditional ‘man-saves-woman’ love story, and if you want to adjust or update that, you’d better do it all the way and with greater competency.

Sam Worthington does his part to make Perseus angry and physically formidable, but that’s all he does with the character, and it’s becoming increasingly hard to decipher why the Hollywood machine has deemed him the next big thing.  He just doesn’t have the cinematic gravitas to fully command the roles he’s been thrown into, and it’s doubtful that he ever will.  He mostly just shouts and curses the gods and waves his sword around, which would be more satisying if the visual effects of his battles were executed with greater skill.  There might be no more fertile realm for astounding visuals than Greek mythology, and it’s unfortunate that the work in Clash of the Titans doesn’t take full advantage.  The fight scenes are often confusing and the character animations for many of the film’s creatures look like something out of a videogame cut-scene.  And that’s not good enough.  Not in this day and age.  Not for Greek mythology, one of the great theaters of storytelling in human history.

The film is not a total loss, and if you go in looking for some cheesy thrills and a lot of sword slashing then you’ll get your fill.  There are also some quality supporting turns from Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes, who do their best to breathe life into Zeus and Hades respectively.  But this project really should have been so much more, and the blatant greed behind the last-minute 3-D transfer just adds insult to the injury of a letdown that feels rushed and ill-conceived.

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