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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars These Titans Aren't Worth Remembering..., September 25, 2010
This review is from: Clash of the Titans [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
Nearly 30 years after the original "Clash of the Titans" graced the silver screen, Hollywood has chosen to resurrect the gods of Greek mythology under the direction of action director Louis Letterier ("The Incredible Hulk").

"Clash of the Titans" follows a man named Perseus (Sam Worthington), who unbeknownst to him is the son of Zeus (Liam Neeson), as he travels in search of taking vengeance upon the dark god Hades (Ralph Fiennes). To complete his quest, Perseus will join forces with a group of warriors to face off against some of the fiercest creatures imaginable and prove that even a god can bleed.

With technology at a point where these legendary figures and monsters can look more realistic, awe-inspiring and/or terrifying than ever before, now seems like a fitting time to revisit this classic tale. Yet, with all of the visual spectacle on display and a director known for fast-paced, adrenaline pumping features, does this newest iteration live up to its obviously dated predecessor?

The answer...surprisingly, is no! For all of its visual panache those responsible for this film were far too preoccupied with wowing audiences with as much spectacle in under two hours as possible that the story got lost right from the start.

What little story there is, which by the way merely exists for the sole purpose of carrying the various characters and the audience from one fight to another, is written by the writing duo of Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi (the writers responsible for the utterly lackluster "Aeon Flux"). This paper-thin imitation of a screenplay is an insult to not only fans of the original film hoping for a modern day update with terrific storytelling and awesome visuals, but to the enduring myths that spawned these legendary characters in the first place.

How exactly is this film's story insulting? Well, let's start with the biggest part of the film, which is the human story. This aspect of the story is rushed along at an incredibly fast pace, which somewhat works to the film's advantage in that the audience doesn't really have time to see its faults. Yet, at the same time it's detrimental in that one never really gets a sense as to why we should even remotely care for the people on screen. There is next to nothing in terms of character development, both on Earth and on Olympus, and the various character motivations are so weak that I never once believed any of them would actually go to such great lengths to succeed in their mission.

When a movie deals with such otherworldly themes, it is vital that the human element be presented as strongly as possible to ground the movie in some semblance of a reality. Not to mention allow for the audience to connect with the various characters so we can actually become enthralled by their journey. This aspect is never given time to develop and as a result there is zero emotional investment, leaving the audience numb to the experience.

Another major issue facing this film's plot is that the gods themselves are ancillary characters that receive only marginal screen time. The original (if memory serves) featured numerous sequences focusing solely on the gods of Olympus overseeing us mere mortals on Earth. Due to the merely passing glimpses we receive of the gods, we're left with the main crux driving the godly portion of the story being relegated to the opening 90 seconds of the film.

This approach to exposition is fine when handling a remake of a film only a few years old where audiences don't need a lot of rehash (i.e. Louis Letterier's remake/reboot of 2003's "Hulk" with 2008's "The Incredible Hulk"); however, this is not the method to use for the redo of a nearly 30-year old property where a good old fashioned refresher course is warranted.

Fans of these classic tales want more depth, and the Greek myths demand more substance to coincide with all of the flash that modern day visual effects houses can provide. The stories surrounding these legendary figures should not be mentioned only in passing, I mean the story elements at your disposal could have sustained a two to three hour Hollywood epic (which is what this film should have been all along).

Not to mention we receive nary a glimpse at any of the gods' powers in use, an aspect I thought would possibly run the risk of being over-used instead of little to none. Aside from the releasing of the infamous Kraken (as was so heavily touted in the myriad of trailers for this film) only Medusa and Hades are given time to display some of their abilities.

Come on Louis, you skimmed over the mythological history of these characters, the least you could have delivered to us is a smorgasbord of their powers and abilities on display throughout. Seriously, how great would it have been to see Zeus unleashed or Poseidon or (insert your choice here). What were you thinking not going crazy with some massive display of power from the inhabitants of Olympus? Something like that seems like it would be a visual effects wizard's dream come true. But I digress.

While on the topic of the film's visuals, the various effects houses in charge of bringing these elements to life produced a surprisingly mixed bag of results. For the most part, the visuals are quite impressive, some even borderline stunning, while others look too obvious or even cartoonish in nature. Personally, despite some weak spots, I enjoyed the updated visuals that are featured in this incarnation over those of Ray Harryhausen from the original, simply because most look so much more life-like and realistic than anything that stop-motion animation could ever even dream of achieving.

One particular segment that I found to be well done was the giant scorpion fights (another sequence that was heavily shown in the previews). This long fight scene was visually impressive and generally entertaining; although, maybe we could have shortened that sequence by a couple of minutes to make room for showcasing some of the other gods' powers.

It really is a shame that instead of capitalizing on the technology at their fingertips to create awesome visuals worthy of the Greek myths, we're left with gods who simply stood around and talked all day long. Not to mention, an overly long giant scorpion fight that became far too repetitive before it finally came to a close.

Now, I must turn my disappointment towards the cast of this forgettable remake. Headlining the cast, despite his limited acting range and number of roles under his belt, is the ever stoic Sam Worthington. As Perseus, Sam is basically asked to combine the strongest, athletic, and action-oriented parts of his previous notable roles from "Terminator: Salvation" and "Avatar" and channel them into this character. Even with his limited talent pool in terms of dramatic acting, I will say that Sam at least put forth an effort in his previous performances; however, in this film his acting is on action movie autopilot.

This time around the only facial expressions Sam displays are anger, a few moments of laughter, and poorly conveyed sadness; of course, I can't forget, the look that comprised the majority of his screen time, namely his go-to expression...the stern, blank stare. As for the other facets of his performance, his line readings were as bland and wooden as ever, although in his defense, it didn't appear that the script really called for much more effort. Beyond those two sub-par aspects of his performance, not surprisingly Sam delivered on the action-oriented side of the role. While he won't be nominated for any Academy Awards for his "dramatic" work on this film, Sam should be a guaranteed nominee for the MTV Movie Awards' "Best Action Star" award.

In the primary supporting roles are three extremely talented actors, Liam Neeson ("Taken"), Ralph Fiennes ("Harry Potter" films), and the man who portrayed one of the best James Bond villains in quite some time, Mads Mikkelson ("007: Casino Royale"). Personally, I'm extremely disappointed in Liam and Ralph for even taking part in this film. Because at this point in their careers they have enough clout in Hollywood (not to mention money) that they could have either demanded a better script (one with dare I say...character development) or just walked away in order to save face. As for Mads, well he probably doesn't have the clout or as much money, so his participation could be better understood.

Still, all of the above actors possess acting talent far superior to what they put on display in this film. Truth be told though, it was their involvement in this movie that gave the proceedings some credibility, albeit ever so slightly.

One last bit of gripes about the cast. The two prominent female roles in this film were either completely thankless (Gemma Arterton's role of Io) or nothing more than a plot device (Alexa Davalos as Andromeda). Both actresses have shown considerable acting chops in previous work, yet as with everyone else in this film, there's nothing worthy of note in their performances here.

The only thing I can figure for why these actors and actresses signed on to this movie was the chance to be a part of a burgeoning Hollywood franchise. Now, that statement does not apply to Sam Worthington. I believe that for him any chance to play a role that calls for little to no emotion is an opportunity that he's going to jump at with gusto. But, for the others, that's the only excuse I can come up with. At least the temptation of a franchise is something I can understand; if it turns out to be anything else, then they should all be ashamed.

Sadly, despite all of this film's potential to become an incredible epic blockbuster, all that those involved in the project managed to cultivate was just another silly summer popcorn movie. Granted, I have enjoyed many a silly summer popcorn movie, but this one wasn't even all that entertaining.

Despite my obvious disdain for this remake, the movie managed to make plenty of money. So, the powers-that-be are moving full-steam ahead on a second installment. Hopefully, they'll correct some of the glaring mistakes from this opening chapter, and make a movie truly worthy of the mythological characters inhabiting this series' universe.

"Clash of the Titans" is rated PG-13 for violence and brief language.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Sep 25, 2010 2:39:35 PM PDT
wagnerian says:
Excellent review.
Justice is done!
Can't believe more of this trash on the way.
God help us!

Posted on Jan 29, 2011 5:15:58 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 29, 2011 5:17:06 PM PST
L.Marie says:
Thorough thought out review. It is possible the reason this movie made so much money could have been from the reputation of the first one,nostalgia, because the reviews are a mixed bag.

Sam's buzz cut totally out of the ordinary for that period, while a lot of the effects were dazzling, the
kraken was lame,that one could have been better.. (I know the original effects are dated but they were fun, and the storyline more thought out)

To be fair, I am going to watch this again.
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