Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Review: Clash of the Titans (2010)

Directed by Louis Leterrier


This looks like a great summer flick. That's what you're thinking through the first twenty five minutes or so of Clash of the Titans, a 2010 remake of the campy 1981 cult classic. In the 2010 version, the sets and costumes are well done, the actors are determined, and the special effects are competent. But about halfway through this story of a demi-god, Perseus, who must complete certain heroic tasks to save the city of Argos from the gods, something changes. Oh, everything still looks good, but you realize that you don't care all that much. It isn't the fault of the actors, although Liam Neeson's Zeus looks, and sounds, like someone playing Santa at an office Christmas party. The star here is Sam Worthington, who plays Perseus, but the script gives no time for character development. Worthington, who was good in Terminator: Salvation and even better in Avatar, does his best, but his Perseus is a one note hero. He's Russell Crowe without the sadness, and consequently, the ballast, for us to care about him that much. And while the demi-god is insistent throughout the movie that he is choosing to be human, you don't believe it. He sounds like someone helping at a soup kitchen for a couple of days, who then looks forward to telling his other rich friends about his experience "relating to the people" over a bottle of Bordeaux. For an adventure story to work, you have to empathize with the hero. You have to believe that they are both fallible and flawed, and that's just not the case here.

Watching big, expensive adventure movies like this makes you appreciate the greatness of The Lord of the Rings, and the reason why the source material is so important. The original Clash of the Titans, with Harry Hamlin, evoked a great deal more emotion, despite its camp. Perhaps its inability to rely on special effects made it so. In this remake, while the special effects are competently done, the fight scenes serve nothing but to advance to the next set piece, and push the viewer away from the story. You're looking for a controller just as the movie is supposed to get interesting. (Clash of the Titans video game was released for PS3 on July 27, 2010)

In that, the story probably serves better as a video game than a movie. I was looking forward to this one, but so long as The Suits insist on the "necessary elements of big budget movies," and don't allow their directors some creative freedom, they'll continue to serve up schlock like this that is neither interesting nor memorable. Trust me, you'll forget it as soon as it over. And when someone asks you what you thought, you'll be left wondering why it wasn't better, because it looked so damn good.

**1/2 (out of five)


Copyright Stephen Burns 2010