Old 04-12-2010, 05:27 PM
Louis Leterrier's Clash of the Titans

Here's the link to the published version of the review in my column at The Richmond Examiner:



Clash of the Titans (2010)

Louis Leterrier's "Clash of the Titans" is an update of the 1981 film of the same name that starred Laurence Olivier and was directed by Desmond Davis. Like the original, the update is a special effects extravaganza that uses the effects to pull the audience into the adventure. Many have already claimed that it fails to do this, however, I must admit, I had fun watching this remake that taps into the spirit of the original.

The film opens with a quick briefing on events that have happened long ago. Earth used to be ruled by those known as the titans. That is, until Zeus (Liam Neeson) and his brother Hades (Ralph Fiennes) conspired to overthrow them with a creature known as the kraken. Zeus then created mankind, whose prayers feed the gods' immortality, but one group of men, led by King Acrisius (Jason Flemyng), grew tired of the gods' whims and decided to revolt against them. In his anger, Zeus disguised himself as the king and made love to the king's wife, who then gives birth to a demigod, Perseus (Sam Worthington).

Several years later, after his adoptive parents are murdered, Perseus becomes entangled with another group of people who are rebelling against the gods in the city of Argos. Meanwhile, on Mount Olympus, Hades convinces Zeus that humanity must be taught a lesson using the kraken. Zeus agrees and Hades pays a visit to Argos, where he warns them that if they do not sacrifice their princess, Andromeda (Alexa Davalos), the kraken will be unleashed upon them. Now it is up to Perseus and a small band of soldiers to find out how to kill the kraken and save the people of Argos.

I should probably say right off the bat that I saw this in 2-D and it looked great. One of the biggest complaints of the film was that the 3-D version didn't look up to par with other 3-D films. This is most likely because this was never meant to be in 3-D and was instead put into that format after the film was made. The special effects still looked great in regular, old 2-D, so if you don't feel like spending the extra $5, then this version serves perfectly fine.

It's a good thing the special effects do look great, for they are the driving force behind the film. They are what make this an adventure worth getting into. Sure, some of them look really cheesy, but that's where it feels like it's tapping into the spirit of the original film. The original certainly had its share of cheesy effects that look even more dated now, but that's where much of the fun of the film came from, and it serves this new version just as well.

You can particularly see this in the scene in which our small group of heroes are fighting off a giant scorpion. Other thrilling scenes include the fight in Medusa's lair, where everyone must try to avoid setting their gaze upon her face lest they be turned into stone, and, of course, the attack of the kraken, an enormous creature that looks like a cross between an octopus and some kind of turtle.

The effects help draw you in even when it's not an action scene. Some interesting examples of this are when our heroes visit a group of witches that only have one eye to see with among the three of them, or when they must cross into the underworld on Charon's boat to reach Medusa's lair.

The performances consisted of an interesting range. Sam Worthington seems as wooden as ever in the role of Perseus, always staying low-key and soft-spoken. Liam Neeson gives a decent performance with the small amount of screentime he has as Zeus. The biggest surprise came from Ralph Fiennes, whom I didn't recognize for most of the film (probably because of the large beard covering his face) until I suddenly remembered he was supposed to be in it. He tends to have a very similar way of speaking in his films, but here, he sounds quite different as he brings a fittingly evil personality to the role of Hades.

If you're able to just sit back and get drawn into the adventure despite some goofy performances and some cheesy, yet affective effects, then this film is for you. It comes together surprisingly well for a film that was supposedly rewritten a few times, resulting in changing the villain while cutting others' dialogue. It may not stand up to the original, but it's still a fun ride. 3/4 stars.

Last edited by Hal2001; 04-12-2010 at 05:40 PM..
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