Clash Of The Titans

Director    Louis Leterrier
Starring    Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Mads Mikkelsen, Gemma Arterton
Release    2 APR (US) 2 APR (UK)    Certificate PG
3 stars


5th April 2010

The original Clash Of The Titans is one of those movies that many people remember fondly from their childhood and usually this is reason enough to swear off any kind of remake. This time, however, all eyes seem to be on how modern-day special effects can improve upon Ray Harryhausen's impressive (but, let's be honest, dated) efforts. Well, come out of retirement, Ray - your stop motion techniques are still preferable to soulless CGI and needless 3D.

The story goes: upon discovering that he is really the son of Zeus, King of the Gods, the recently orphaned Perseus (Worthington) vents his anger at the deities and volunteers to lead a dangerous mission to defeat Hades (Fiennes), the god of the underworld, who has been charged with punishing mankind for lack of obedience. Along the way, Perseus and his troop of soldiers come face to face with mythological beasties and monsters, which they must thwart in order to complete their mission and save the human race from the mighty wrath of the gods.

First, let me address the big three-dimensional Kraken in the room: a lot has already been said about the senseless 3D trend currently sweeping cinemas, particularly with this post-wrap 3D-transferred film, so I won't preach to the anti-conversion converted, but suffice to say: it's bad. So bad, in fact that, if Avatar single-handedly changed the face of cinema by showing that 3D can be the future of film, Clash Of The Titans deserves to be the movie that undoes all of James Cameron's hard work and convinces studios to pack 3D away in a cupboard under the stairs inside a box marked 'Do Not Open Until 2025'.

Sam Worthington thankfully remains unaffected by this travesty, comfortably carrying the film on his shoulders throughout the two hours and, indeed, excelling at the job expected of him - which is basically wielding a sword and shouting a lot. It sounds derisory but there really isn't more he needs to do and, with this being the latest in a line of 'champion' roles for the new leading star, Worthington proves to suit the demi-god status rather well, with a wholesomeness that belies a hidden inner strength.

[gallery]In any case, he certainly fares better than Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes whose established acting talents go to waste as the opposing Zeus and Hades. Neeson makes thunderous declarations while Fiennes channels a raspy-voiced mixture of Voldemort and Fagin, and yet both just seem petulant and reckless, never presenting more of a threat than the deadly creatures encountered during Perseus' journey, despite apparently being all-powerful.

Of course the real stars of the show are the blockbuster-type special effects, which typically impress and disappoint depending on which monster is on screen. While an exciting battle with genuinely intimidating giant scorpions provides an early highlight, the highly-anticipated Medusa encounter is frankly shoddy, with the CGI gorgon looking like she was drawn using computer effects from a decade ago.

More frustrating is the fact that, while the thrilling action comes thick and fast throughout the movie, the effect wears off by the time we get to the climactic Kraken battle. There are a few anxious references to this ultimate badass monster early on and this, coupled with Neeson's dramatic instruction to "Release the Kraken!", raises expectations to Level Awesome. And yet, when the serpent unfurls onscreen, it just feels like more of the same old pixel fest.

All of which wouldn't seem so bad but for the lacking script. A back story for Perseus rushes by so quickly in the opening 10 minutes that it's hard to fully appreciate his motives throughout the rest of the film. Also, when the mighty stallion Pegasus is reduced to an elongated cameo even though director Louis Leterrier still finds time to throw in a nonsense appearance by Bubo, the ridiculous mechanical owl from the original film, you are left with the impression that a lot of bad choices were made along the way, and that ultimately, the film could have benefited from just 15 extra minutes spent on plot.

And that's the main problem with this kind of blockbuster fare - it's all too predictable when it comes to choosing eye-popping CGI over fleshing out the story, but then it's a redundant complaint: when trailers and posters for Clash Of The Titans boast that Titans! Will! Clash!, you know that exclamation marks are higher on the agenda than surprises and plot twists. In this case though, when the thrills hit the spot, they make the ticket price just about worthwhile. Unless, you're watching it in 3D, of course.

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