I haven’t seen the 1981 original on which this film is based, so thankfully, I won’t be compelled to compare it with the original, something I always succumb to while reviewing a remake of a classic. Feel much lighter writing this piece due to this fact.
Clash of the Titans is a mythological story of how Perseus (the mortal son of Zeus) averts the great war between the Gods & humans. Interesting, because I’d seen Percy Jackson & The Olympians – The Lightning Thief a few weeks ago, and was quite curious about the real myth (excuse the oxymoron) behind that story. And Clash… did help unravel a few things I didn’t know. I wouldn’t bother with the plot here. Already did it with the Percy Jackson film and it’s no different here with just some inconsequential changes.
I’d mentioned a theory about every film being made with an intention to look good. And that theory applies to a mythological action film with Gods & monsters involved more than any other. So, if Clash of the Titans wasn’t spectacular, it would’ve deserved being ripped apart. To its credit, it just but manages to escape that fate. For starters, the CGI in the film is outstanding. The monsters (giant scorpions, Medusa and Kraken) were brilliantly executed works of computer graphics. And some of the visual effects were literally Ooh la la!! What I fail to understand is why the producers had to do some 3-D patchwork in the post-production phase just to catch in on the Avatar euphoria. The 3-D effects are of the level of the couple of Indian 3-D films that released in the 80’s. Not for the entire movie though…the end titles had some awesome depth. I saw the 3-D version, and felt cheated, to say the least.
The film had an interesting cast with the new popcorn poster boy, Sam Worthington paired with the lovely Gemma Arterton (Quantum of Solace) in the lead and supported by the brilliant Liam Neeson & Ralph Fiennes along with Jason Flemyng & Mads Mikkelsen (Casino Royale). Director Louis Leterrier’s outings so far have given us good action, if not anything else. And on that front, Clash of the Titans is an enjoyable fare. The action sequences are shot with great precision and Worthington (Perseus) simply rocks in them. And so does Mikkelsen as the uptight general of the humans, Draco. Worthington also shares a cackling chemistry with Arterton (Io, an angel who guides & protects Perseus). That’s about all that’s good in the film.
There are two ways one might look at it. The most common view would be on the lines of…isn’t that all a popcorn entertainer needs to have? Agreed, a student who has just finished his exams or a family on their weekend outing would be more than satisfied watching this. They get their thrills, good action & a happy ending, but IMO, that alone doesn’t make good cinema. And good cinema can be equally entertaining.
Clash of the Titans is like an intellectual and emotional vacuum. Random scenes and meaningless dialogue is what the vacuum is made of. And every now and then, when this vacuum starts choking you, there comes a brilliant action sequence which allows you to gasp in enough oxygen to endure the next phase of vacuum. There’s hardly any character development to speak of. Perseus, the central character, evokes as much empathy as a pebble lying by the roadside. Neither do you feel sorry for him when Hades’ anger envelopes his family-turning him into an orphan, nor do you feel any exhilaration when he slays the monsters one by one. And his entire journey being predictable doesn’t help at all.
The biggest victims of neglect is Zeus and by implication, Liam Neeson. One feels sad as all this veteran gets to do is utter boring & clichéd monologues and pass meek agreements to whatever Hades (Ralph Fiennes) has to say. Fiennes’ lines & actions are equally boring and clichéd, so anything he could have done to redeem things is also negated. The other Gods, well…they were great in the scene where they vanish from Olympus…but that was CGI.
I won’t sum up this film in conclusion as I usually do. Instead, I’ll pose a few questions for all those who stand by the viewpoint that I stated earlier. Would this film have been any less entertaining had the brilliant action been appended with some smart characterization and an engaging script, along with some meaningful dialogue? Or would it have been a bit too heavy for a weekend outing? Do you think that asking for this much to call a film a good one is being too snooty? Would love to know what you all feel.