For the past couple of days, I’ve been off of work and I desperately needed to do something that I haven’t had a chance to do in a while: go see a movie. And given my current situation (more on that later), I needed something light-hearted, something that didn’t take itself seriously or was going to leave me even more of an emotional wreck. Clash of the Titans it was, then, so I hopped off to the theater yesterday in the afternoon to go see it.
Clash of the Titans‘ greatest asset is the insane cast Louis Leterrier and company got lined up. Pete Postlethewaite opens the movie, gaunt and bearded, as Spyros. Mads Mikkleson and Liam Cunningham play soldiers from Argos. Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes play Zeus and Hades, respectively. That’s a lot of good actors to squeeze into a movie.
Sam Worthington is Perseus, a boy rescued from a casket at sea by fisherman Spyros and his wife when Perseus was a mere baby. Perseus is happy as a fisherman and Spyros tells the young orphan that someday, someone will have to stand up to the cruelty of the gods. On a nice day, the family is fishing when a group of soldiers from Argos topple a statue of Zeus, declaring that humans no longer need to worship the gods. Hades rises from the deep, striking the soldiers down for their insolence and destroys Perseus’ family for their insolence.
On Olympus, Zeus is furious. In Zeus’ eyes, the humans are ungrateful for the great gift of life he has bestowed upon them; he asks in return their love and prayers to sustain his immortality. His fury leads Hades to persuade Zeus to allow Hades free reign in punishing the humans’ uprising. Zeus agrees and Hades schemes to overthrow his older brother that cursed him to the underworld. After a mortal queen claims that her daughter Andromeda is more lovely than any goddess, Hades appears and punishes her by giving the city of Argos an ultimatum: sacrifice Andromeda or sacrifice the city to Hades’ wrath. Either way, the Kraken will be summoned.
Perseus begins a quest to find a way to save Andromeda, Argos and avenge his family’s death at the hands of Hades with a group of Argosian (?) soldiers. They visit some witches, go slay Medusa and Perseus returns on a pegasus to defeat the Kraken. (Spoiler!) There are scorpion fights and djinns and all sorts of godly muckings about.
Leterrier is great at directing action; both here in and Transporter 2 he has always directed tense scenes that have necessary urgency while still being able to be clear about who is doing what and where and when, something other action directors often fail at doing. The cast is mostly great, although Gemma Arterton as Io is so boring one is tempted to cheer when she finally exits the film. I genuinely like Sam Worthington but not necessarily as Perseus. Worthington has a sort of nice normalcy about him that seems to be rare in Hollywood, but Sam, darling, please, please work on losing that Australian accent or keep it altogether. Seesawing between the two is distracting.
The whole story is very odd; the furious Zeus steps into help the humans he wishes to destroy, adopts the son he spurned previously as his own; the other gods are given the barest of mentions. After Act I, Perseus only briefly mentions his adopted father Spyros; out of the trio of godly brothers of Poseidon, Hades and Zeus, Poseidon is given short shrift with a whopping two seconds of screen time and no involvement in the plot. Andromeda is set up as a love interest for Perseus and then dropped in favor of the ageless Io. It is odd and strange, but I guess I didn’t see Clash of the Titans for the story as much as the action – and Liam Neeson, natch. (CHUD has a great article here on this.)
Which brings me to the weird of all this.
If I could ask anything, it would be what in the holy fuck the costume designer was smoking on this film, because never in my wildest nightmares did I think that it would be possible to make Liam Neeson look like someone genetically fused Waylon Jennings and Liberace together in one unholy body. Observe:
WHAT. IS. THAT?
And Fiennes doesn’t get the better treatment, either – for some reason, his hairline’s receded an inch and looks like he has a band of grit traveling down his forehead. Why? Who knows?! Everyone else has long, braided locks but Sam Worthington for some inexplicable reason has a shaved head. I don’t get it.
Clash of the Titans isn’t bad, it’s just messy in the story area and the CGI is distracting at times. Titans is a fun movie; it was worth the $8.00 to hear Neeson order “Release the Kraken!” and Liam Cunningham chewed some valuable scenery. It was nice, fun, exciting and light-hearted, which was precisely what I needed at the moment.
I give it a B-, myself, but your mileage my vary.
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