The OF Blog: Clash of the Titans (2010)

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Clash of the Titans (2010)

As a child, I remember watching the 1981 version of Clash of the Titans on TV a few years after its cinematic release.  I vaguely recall it being action-packed, with scheming of the gods setting the frame for the story of Andromeda's sacrifice amidst all of the conflict between Zeus and Thetis over whose bastard child gets to grab the gold ring and marry the princess.  I remember the special effects being halfway between fascinating and cheesy, but with there being glimpses of humor that leavened the ponderous quest from monster to monster until the sea creature was slain.  Although I have not seen that movie since the mid-1980s, I would imagine that its campiness might hold up well even today.

I highly doubt that the same thing can be said for the 2010 remake.  This is the sort of movie where one almost has to check in his or her brain at the door, because the numerous plot holes, foil-thin characterizations, and over-reliance on special effects combine to create a cinematic experience that is almost as numbing as getting several Novocaine shots.  It is hard to know where to begin in trying to discuss this movie, because from the opening scene, the screenwriters could barely keep their focus on any particular element for more than a handful of minutes.

Take for instance the discovery of Perseus by a poor fisherman.  After that, there's a very quick, less than two minute scene of Perseus at six or so with his adopted father, talking about the fisherman's soon-to-be-born daughter.  Perseus says he has no father, then the flash-forward to 12 years later occurs immediately afterwards, with the men of Argos (well, if you can't have Sparta, I guess you can have the Mycenaean age equivalent for this film) having declared war on the gods over their capriciousness.  Does the viewer get any real idea of their motivation, other than the gods must be mad (or evil, or something in-between)?  Not really, as the scene goes from the rise of Hades to unleash hellions on the men knocking down Zeus's statue on a lonely island to Hades blithely destroying the fishing boat that Perseus and his adopted family were on.  Doubtless, the producers would have loved for the audience to feel compassion for Perseus' loss, but due to the herky-jerky dialogue to this point, the overall effect was more that of ticking off the first box in a checklist of stereotypical things to get Hero mad as hell.

The following scenes in Argos make even less sense.  Perseus is alternatively treated as an honored guest, as a Demigod to the reviled, back to someone to be persuaded by gifts, to being locked up in a prison, and so forth with a dizzying five minute stretch.  One might be pardoned if s/he were to start wondering if the entire cast at this point were experiencing schizophrenia as the result of Hades' attack.

Of course, the Hero must set forth on a ten-day voyage to save the Princess Andromeda from Hades' declaration that she must be offered up at the next eclipse to the monstrous child of his, the Kraken (funny how the god of the underworld has the most powerful sea creature for his progeny, as that would seem to be more like Poseidon.  Maybe Poseidon slept with the Kraken's mother behind Hades' back and Hades never found out?).  Needless to say, the Hero needs traveling companions and a sage, this time in the form of an apparently immortal non-goddess.  As for the other traveling troupe members, gotta have a drunken, loutish stand-in for Heracles for the movie's only semblance of comedic relief, with wild carousing and magical timing whenever the monstrous foes attack.  Oh, and did I add that there's a bolted-on inner conflict for Perseus after he learns that he is Zeus's son and Zeus tries to help him after not discovering that he's the father for nearly 20 years?  Oh yeah, guess that should be mentioned here.

I will not give blow-by-blow descriptions of the narrative, not just because of all of the plot holes and inconsistencies, but rather because describing them in detail might numb the readers' minds a bit too much.  Suffice to say there are several half-baked enemies introduced in this film that were not in the original nor in the actual myth.  Resolutions to these scenes are done in dizzying fastness, to the detriment of any real tension that could have been developed if the producers had only decided what sort of story they wanted to use to connect all of their massive explosions and other special effects.  The viewer has little time to think, "What the fuck just happened?  That shit doesn't make much sense!" before the next round of clichéd soul-searching monologues and dastardly villain speeches hits.  By the time the movie ends after 100 minutes, there is a big, glorious mess on screen.  It is not a fun mess, a mess that makes sense despite itself, but rather resembles he conglomeration of several similar action-themed movies and their explosive finales without anything containing an iota of originality or meaning beyond the monster was slain and that the Hero got a wench.

In other words, it is standard disposable action/adventure fare that will be quickly forgotten.  The sooner, the better.

Oh, and for those of you who would like a better version of this film, I leave you with this:


Harry Markov said...

I plan on watch this for the CGI and skip the dialogue, etc. etc. etc. I am more or less bored with the films after 2005.

Larry said...

I'm a very auditory person and the CGI never impressed me (visuals rarely do, unless it's of real nature scenes and not monsters :P), so I knew going in that unless the dialogue and plot execution were superb, the movie would be a waste for me. Needless to say, it was.

If you can get a copy, I'd suggest the 2000 Argentine movie Nueve Reinas (Nine Queens). That's one of the best con-man movies I've seen and the acting and dialogue are outstanding.

Harry Markov said...

I am very visual. I need an image to take me into good creative places [btw I started plotting the squirrel punk story] and yes, dialogue will always be a strong criteria for me, but it will take on a second place.

It's why music videos [when done right] enhance the song I fancy.

I will take note and try to see this one.

Larry said...

You've started it? Wonderful! :D

I'm guessing poetry doesn't have a strong appeal to you then? :(

Harry Markov said...

Sadly, no. I think it is a personal flaw of mine that I cannot enjoy the art form and there are many amazing poets, but if I read it, then I am forcing myself and in the end the whole experience is wasted on me.

Larry said...

I think I have a natural affinity for poetry. Not so much the casting of thoughts into verse (although I have done that without those being too doggerel :P), but with a sense of a rhythm to what I write and what I "hear" when I read. It certainly affects what I like to read.

Brett said...

Wow, that movie sounds kind of appalling, like what the 2000 re-make of H.G. Wells Time Machine did to the original story.

It's a pity, too, because I actually liked the original Clash of the Titans (it helped that I was a kid, and it had nudity). Aside from that, it was entertaining, and not too far from the Greek mythology.

Larry said...

Well, I'd take my comments with a grain of salt, since I do tend to dislike strongly anything of an action/adventure orientation. But yes, it was a fairly humorless movie that seemed underdeveloped at so many levels.

The New Yorker summed it up best:

Like the wiser actors around him, he [Mads Mikkelsen] is more amused than awed by the proceedings, clearly realizing that, as the action slips from scorpion to gorgon, and from gorgon to Kraken, what is at stake here is not an enlightening quest, or a Homeric journey, but a series of levels, each one tougher than the last. That is why I am, in all honesty, reviewing "Clash of the Titans" three months too soon. On July 10th, it will be released on Playstation 3 and Xbox 350, and only then, I feel, will it truly come into its own. The film, diverting but far from Titanic, is no more than a task to be completed along the way.

i3lh4m said...

I love much this movie...Thanks 4 sharing!

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