Review: Clash of the Titans
PLOT: Demi-God Perseus (Sam Worthington), and his band of warriors, set out to destroy the Kraken, a mythical beast unleashed by Hades (Ralph Fiennes); the God of the Underworld, who seeks to usurp Zeus's (Lian Neeson) throne as King of the Gods.
REVIEW: CLASH OF THE TITANS is a large scale remake of the old Ray Harryhausen Greek mythology adventure pic that a lot of us were weaned on as children. I have vivid memories of watching Harry Hamlin as Perseus, take on the Gods, with the great Laurence Olivier playing Zeus. Alas, time has not been particularly kind to CLASH OF THE TITANS as the film is pretty dated these days so remaking it isn't really violating sacred ground as far as I'm concerned.
Sure enough, director Louis Leterrier, who made his name with THE TRANSPORTER, and previously directed the solid INCREDIBLE HULK re-imagining, does a pretty nifty job updating TITANS (although he plays fast and loose with Greek mythology). The action scenes are expertly staged, and running a lean 105 minutes, CLASH never overstays it's welcome.
He's also got a terrific cast, with newly minted mega-star Sam Worthington playing Perseus. I've been pretty harsh on Worthington in the past, as I wasn't too fond of his work in TERMINATOR: SALVATION (although I don't think anyone could have saved that mess), and I'm one of the few critics that didn't rave about AVATAR. Worthington's actually pretty damn solid here, helped by the fact that he gets to keep his Aussie brogue, and doesn't attempt an American accent, which he's never been able to really pull off (even AVATAR had a few slips). Physically, Worthington's got what it takes to be an action hero, and he does damn well in the numerous action scenes, particularly the show-stopping battle with Medusa. Considering the film is pretty much all action, I can't really say what kind of an actor he's turning into, but he does a good job with this, and I'm game to catch him in more action flicks.
Helping matters enormously is the fact that Worthington is surrounded by a cast of top-notch actors playing the Gods. Living legend Liam Neeson makes a kick-ass Zeus, which is radically different than Olivier's regal approach in the original film. While he doesn't really get any action scenes, he brings a much needed authority to the role. Ralph Fiennes also makes an appropriately creepy Hades, but then again, he's an expert at the type of role, that has shades of his work as Voldemort in the Harry Potter films. I could have sworn that I also saw Danny Huston as Poseidon, but his role seems to have been almost completely excised from the film, and is probably lying on the cutting room floor. Then again, Huston's in about thirty movies this year, so I'm sure we'll be seeing him again soon (is it just me, or are Mark Strong and/or Danny Huston popping up in almost every major action flick these days?).
On the more human side, we get CASINO ROYALE baddie Mads Mikkelsen as the bad-ass warrior Draco, who helps Perseus in his quest, along with ABOUT A BOY's Nicholas Hoult as the fresh faced newbie who's pretty much doomed from the start. Another Bond veteran, Gemma Atherton from QUANTUM OF SOLACE, shows up as Io, a fellow demi-God who gives Perseus some guidance, and also makes a drop-dead sexy love interest. Atherton's a true beauty, and she suits this type of mythical film pretty well, which bodes well for the upcoming PRINCE OF PERSIA.
However, CLASH OF THE TITANS is not a perfect film. The film is a victim of AVATAR's success at the box office, as the studio bigwigs decided after that film became the highest grossing film of all time to convert this to 3D. What they failed to realize is that Cameron spent years designing his film around 3D, and a rush conversion wasn't going to look anywhere near as good, and in fact, it looks quite bad. If you get the option, see this in 2D, which is the medium this was designed for. The 3D effects are cheap and unimpressive, and also ruins the cinematography, with the tinted lenses giving the film a murky look that likely isn't how the film was shot. There are a few cheesy 3D effects added in, such as a silly shot involving a coin, but they don't even come close to justifying the premium ticket price. Hopefully the shoddy conversion on this will discourage studios from upconverting films, which is about as stupid as when studios, at the dawn of widescreen in the fifties, used to cut the top and bottoms of film negatives in either to make sham widescreen films. Real 3D is one thing, this fake kind is another thing altogether.
Cheap-ass 3D aside, CLASH OF THE TITANS is still a fun ride, and I had a great time with it. While it's certainly not a top-tier fantasy film like LORD OF THE RINGS, this is like a more high-end sword and sorcery film from the eighties (I kept thinking of THE BEASTMASTER throughout). For what it is, its a good time at the movies.