Friday, April 2, 2010

Movie Review: Clash of the Titans

Sorry for the lack of updates recently. Other matters have kept me away. But I'm back with my thoughts on the year's first big FX spectacle. Release the KRAKEN! (and some spoilers-heads up!)
As the film opens a lone fisherman (Pete Posthlewaite) finds a floating coffin with a dead woman and a still living infant. He quickly takes the child and raises it as his own. The grown child-Perseus (Sam Worthington)-seems content with his adopted family until tragedy strikes. The city of Argos has revolted against the Gods and their actions causes the deaths of Perseus' family. He immediately seeks his vengeance against the being responsible-Hades (Ralph Fiennes). But Hades has other plans-he orders Argos to sacrifice the princess Andromeda (Alexa Davalos) or be massacred. Perseus and a group of Argos soldiers, along with the ageless seer Io (Gemma Arteton) venture forth to find a way to save Andromeda and for Perseus to have his vengeance. Unknown to Perseues he is the child of Hades' brother Zeus (Liam Neeson) and there is more to this than either knows...

If you are familiar with the 1981 Clash of the Titans than its obvious the plot has undergone some mild alterations. Its not love that sets Perseus on his quest but revenge. And that maybe is the major issue. The original for all its now dated appearances was the story of what a man will do to save a woman he loves. The new Clash is all about an angry guy seeking his revenge. And fighting a lot of monsters. In fact that's pretty much what the film is about-CGI monsters wrecking havoc while the human actors run around. Now that's not a bad thing if there was someone to root for. Both the humans and gods are portrayed as selfish beings while Perseus' one man crusade makes him one note-not helped by Worthington's performance. While I'm not against him (like many seem to be after Avatar) he doesn't really have the gravitas to pull off the role and seems to spend most of the movie channeling Russell Crowe but he does pull off the action scenes well.

Outside of that though there is some good effects work present-the Kraken is definitely the highlight-and the veteran actors chew the scenery well, even if many are shortchanged-most notably Danny Houston (who was the best thing in last summer's Wolverine) as Poseidon and Polly Walker (Sarkoja for those John Carter of Mars fans) as Andromeda's mother. Andromeda also gets little to do-in this one she's a macguffin, nothing else.

I guess in the end your enjoyment will depend on your love of the original. I know for some that film-with Ray Harryhausen's stop motion magic, the good supporting cast and the hot Judi Bowker as Andromeda-is a cherished childhood favorite. I also know that many never warmed to it and found it dated and silly even then. So I guess it depends on what side of the aisle you sit in if this Clash delivers. For me it was a good afternoon's entertainment-not a classic but a fun action flick. (A quick note-according to most reviews the 3D version is apparently not effective. See it in 2D). My rating: ***

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