CLASH OF THE TITANS - Theatrical review

It's a fun film for the moment, but nothing more than your average affair in the fantasy genre.

TimRaynor's picture

I'll admit to partaking in the joys of watching old classic fantasy films in my youth. Saturdays were laden with my own "Our Gang" of friends watching "Godzilla" destroy Tokyo, then watching "Sinbad" fight villains and monsters of the Middle East, followed by a little Greek mythology with "Jason and the Argonauts." You can only imagine that in 1981 when the original "Clash of the Titans" hit the big screen all us teens were jumping for joy. And why not? After "Star Wars" we all figured the visuals were going to be way better than those fake-looking effects from the 1960's. Granted, and looking back at it, the effects were still as atrocious as ever, but that didn't keep us kids from wearing it out once it hit VHS. In the 1980's, though, subpar-effects never mattered, because if it was new, it was automatically up-scaled into "cool" territory.

Needless to say, I have visited the 1981 version of "Clash of the Titans" more times than I care to mention. I never found it to be too compelling a film, nor was it really meant to be. There were several fantasy films of the time that I enjoyed much more in comparison, but what can I say? I was a kid and fascinated with all the eye-candy moments, even though I found the pacing a bit dull at times. Nevertheless, it was a film that offered the monsters of Greek mythology, giant scorpions, Medusa turning men into stone, and the Greek Gods eating fruitfully and drinking fine wine while they toyed with humans and their horrific fate. What could possibly be more fun to watch?

Therefore, I found myself very willing to check out Louis Leterrier's 2010 version of "Clash of the Titans." Then to make things even better, this new version could also be seen in the dazzling technology of 3-D (I think the way Hollywood has been turning out many recent films that support the 3-D platform, you might as well call this movie "Cash of the Titans"). The production level of this new edition I can only assume was run by Prof. John Hammond from Jurassic Park; "We spared no expense." Aside from all the new bells and whistles and a few alterations in the screenplay, 2010's "Clash of the Titans" plays a little more entertainingly than its parent version of 1981. However, that in no way implies the film achieves fantasy greatness and is certainly not meant to shift the Earth's axis as a film like "Avatar" has done.

Speaking of "Avatar," our main man, Perseus, is played by Sam Worthington. Perseus was brought to Earth by his father, the Greek God Zeus (Liam Neeson), to be the defender and salvation of humanity. Of course, there is this whole journey thing where he needs to get in touch with who he is. While finding his purpose, he is reluctant, to the extent of anger, not to accept any help from the Gods. To make things even more difficult for Perseus, Zeus's brother Hades (Ralph Fiennes)--keeper of the dead--is set loose to extend his powers of chaos.

While the journey is full of the monsters of mythology and the gallant battles fighting them, the tone feels serious at taking stabs at the foundations of faith, religion, and the separation of man from gods. Zeus, Apollo (Luke Evans), Hades, and Athena (Izabella Miko) are painted to look like selfish, childish tyrants who are not worthy of a prayer written on a napkin. The message is very clear that humans should live life more self-sufficient and not rely on the worship of Gods which, for the majority, do not exist. There certainly is an agnostic message here, if not one completely drenched in Atheism. The message sets a tone for thought, but feels pointless in a film that should be a bit silly, campy, and over indulgent in cheese.

Underneath all the updates of visual pleasure and making the tone even darker and more serious, there is the sense of entertainment that can be fun. This new version still has the action of giant scorpions, the Kraken, and the excitement of chopping off Medusa's head. We even get a short, humorous cameo from the golden owl of the 1981 version. Of course, all the action sequences are stretched a little more to address the attention span of today's audience. While I did found this new, updated version a little more up-tempo compared to its old retired version, I still didn't find it any more compelling. Is it simple, fun--mindless entertainment? Absolutely, and pretty harmless, really. Will it bend space and time to form a wormhole into a parallel dimension? Not in our lifetime. It's a fun film for the moment, but nothing more than your average affair in the fantasy genre.

3D Experience:
I managed to catch this film in Real 3-D. I'm not really a big fan of 3-D since I have issues with the glasses giving me headaches. But since this film only runs about 118-minutes, I figured I'd give it a try.

I didn't get a headache, although the entire experience made me feel like I was cross-eyed. The colors are apparently a bit more washed out than the 2-D version, but since this is a film saturated with dark tones and Earthy colors, I wouldn't worry about it too much. The 3-D seemed effective enough but shone best when moments were more silent and still. Once the action kicked in, it was a blur-fest of objects that were near impossible to focus on. There are the usual action sequences where larger objects are supposed to pop-out of the screen. However, these sequences would go by so fast, one hardly notices the effect. Overall, and while some of the 3-D is entertaining and effective, the experience was only mildly average.

The Good:
Why, all that Greek Mythology! If you grew up in my time, there's nothing better than some good old Greek Mythology. I mean, how can anyone resist giant monsters, ghoulish villains and arrogant gods? 2010's "Clash of the Titans" undoubtedly delivers the goods for your typical, action-packed fantasy movie. The picture is unquestionably not making any promises or promoting the good health of filmmaking. What it does offer is popcorn entertainment that will pollute the cable channels in another year. It's really pretty harmless if you don't go in expecting much, and if you're a fan of the 1981 version, you should know not to expect much in the first place.

The Bad:
What's bad here is the film never attempts to be anything better in its narrative when compared to its counterpart of 1981. We get a new 3-D face-lift, and the elaborate touches of CGI; however, those are about the only things going for it. We have the stage set for some silly, campy fun, but the narrative keeps attempting to take us somewhere darker and more somber in tone. I honestly have to say, a few more funny moments and a few more inside jokes on the old movie would have gone a long way in this new version. Instead, all the actors are too busy looking larger than life and taking the parts way too seriously.

The Ugly:
Recycling 3-D glasses? Whose bright idea was this? This is why we get milked every time for an extra three to four dollars for 3-D movies. Here's an idea: Why not let people keep their glasses, which probably cost the industry ten cents to make in China, and bring them to their next 3-D experience? If they forget their glasses, then they pay the extra three-to-four dollars for new ones. And can we start getting some designer styles? I mean, the whole 1950's, Buddy Holly look is ridiculous and ugly.

2010's "Clash of the Titans" will certainly not change the foundations of the Earth's crust, but it does have a future in the realms of "standby" cable movies. Undoubtedly, I didn't find anything too persuasive about it, nor did I expect to. Nonetheless, if you're just looking for an average, popcorn fantasy, then you won't be too terribly disappointed. It does have those moments that are sure to keep the average Joe entertained, but if you're one to dig too deep into the narrative, then be forewarned to keep your expectations extremely low.


Film Value