Clash of the Titans Review

While I am inclined to like Sam Worthington (you’ll remember that he’s on the list), I am not inclined to like Greek mythology or indeed any story that features a lot of swords and dust and men wearing skirts, so I hesitated over Clash of the Titans. But the nature of the list meant I had to go, so I did. Twice. Once in 3-D and once in regular D. I wouldn’t have PAID for it twice, but the second time my Dad treated me.

If you haven’t already seen Clash of the Titans or the atrocious 1980s film of the same name that it’s based on, the basic story is this:

When gods Zeus (Liam Neeson) and Hades (Ralph Fiennes) send a huge monster to punish mankind for its ingratitude, Perseus (Sam Worthington), a mortal son of Zeus who wants nothing to do with the gods, turns out to be the only one who can stop it.

You see, the Gods need mankind’s prayers. Mankind is not happy, so they’re not offering many. In a stroke of pure genius, Zeus (who sparkles like the Cylons from the old Battlestar Galactica) and Hades (who looks like Voldemort) decide that the best way to reinvigorate their gratitude is to send the Kraken to wipe out their city. (I don’t know about you, but nothing makes me more grateful than having huge fangy monsters sent to kill me).

Hades created the Kraken from his own flesh, and refers to it as his “son”. By a freak coincidence (freak coincidences being very popular in Greek mythology and not attributable to bad screenwriting… this time) the only one (for reasons that are not explained) that can kill it is Zeus’s son, Perseus. As you can see, Zeus’s son is much more attractive and mentally sound than his brother’s.

If I looked like a cross between a rancor, a lobster, and an octopus, and my cousin looked like THAT, I’d be angry too.

Before we can get into the bits with the fangy monsters, however, Perseus’ family has to be Struck by Tragedy (or more accurately, Struck by Fireball, which is another of Hades’ great ideas). Being Struck By Tragedy is, of course, the #1 prerequisite for heroism, to the point where it’s become a cliche. But we can’t get after this movie for it because Greek myths are what created the cliche in the first place.

No! No! My family! Etc. Etc. Heartrending scream.

While Hercules was so desperate for glory and attention that he pimped his sword arm out to anyone with anything even slightly menacing that needed killing, all Perseus wants is to be a normal guy, living on a boat in a burlap dress pulling fish out of the water.

You can sort of see why – nice scenery.

Therefore the fireball striking/drowning of his adoptive mother, sister, and father (he has three fathers: biological, adoptive, and step, but this is the only one he cares about) is necessary to get him to give a crap about whether the Kraken destroys Argos. Mostly he still doesn’t, but killing the Kraken gives him a shot at Hades, so Perseus trades his dress for a skirt and off we go.

What do you mean, there’s no pants anywhere in the country??

The plot is simple: kill Kraken. But there are so many conflicting interest groups (sacrifice princess, save princess, tell the gods to get stuffed, worship the gods, kill Hades, kill Perseus, kill Zeus, go fishing, etc etc etc) that things get a bit muddled, so expect to say “but why…” at least two or three times. More if you’re paying attention. For this reason, I liked it better the second time around, when I already had it all figured out.

Why is old lightning-zapped Klingon stepfather king person trying to kill Perseus again? Oh right, because everyone is.

Perseus, who was apparently British as a child and became Australian as he grew up, joins forces with a bunch of other people (like Mads Mikkelson and Gemma Arterton) from the Former-and-Almost Bond actor club (Sam Worthington was almost James Bond instead of Daniel Craig). These new guys all have different accents (none of them Greek), wear eye shadow, and have fake abs chiseled on their breast plates. Perseus’ fighting buddies are a little hard to tell apart, given that they’re all dirty, skirted, scraggle-haired weirdoes…

…and we spend half the movie at calf level…

…but since they’re all going to get wiped out anyway, it doesn’t much matter. The exception to this rule is Io (Gemma Arterton), the ageless watcher-type, on account of she’s a girl and her dress looks like it’s made out of an old mop head.

yes, there is something uglier than a pleated leather skirt

The Fellowship of No Ring goes on an epic journey (the Greeks LOVE epic journeys) to find out how to kill the Kraken, during which it takes them four or five days to travel through what looks like Morocco, Brazil, British Columbia, California, New Zealand, Chechnya, and Mordor, and takes them about 20 minutes to get back.

It was actually filmed in the Canary Islands, Wales, and indoors.

They also come across various random monsters and monster-like creatures which must be subdued and/or killed before they can go on. This is because monster fighting is the entire point of the movie. (Though it should be noted that one type of monster, the Djinn, is there to be partnered up with instead of killed or enslaved).

I will call you: Mickey Blue Eyes

This is not the sort of movie that actors decide to be in because it will contribute significantly to the development of their art form, but because they get to yell a lot and wave swords around. In fact, the dialogue in this movie is so bad that at times it seems like they accidentally handed the actors the script for the descriptive video track. If indeed they were given the correct script, the three credited screenwriters (four if you count the one from 1980) can be proud of penning such gems as:

“They’re riding them!”
“Look! The Kraken!”
and “The boats are coming for us.”

PROKOPION: They’re riding them!
ME: Thank you, Captain States-The-Obvious-A-Lot

The only time you can see any glimpses of the skill the all-star cast possesses is in dialogue free, non-fighting moments, of which there are about one and a half. Keep your eyes open for Perseus getting kicked by a soldier after he’s rescued, patting the Pegasus, and rubbing Io’s hand, to see what I mean.

I once heard someone in a DVD interview say that Sam Worthington was the best reactor
(not as in nuclear, as in responding to stuff) in the business, and I believe it.

If you don’t like monster fighting, don’t go to this movie, because the most commonly uttered line is “yeeeeeeaaaaaaaaargh!”, and it usually precedes the flinging of oneself at a monster. Perseus himself does this no fewer than eleven times.

In all fairness, Sam Worthington does have a very distinctive yell.

The flinging results in quite a bit of skirt-flying-up, so the boys wear little cheerleader spanky pants under their skirts to cover their important bits. So don’t go to this movie if you’re looking to perv up the actor’s skirts. It should also be noted that Perseus never actually gets to kiss his girlfriend, so there’s really nothing here for girls who don’t like fighting movies.

Dude, I know GIRLS who won’t wear skirts that short.

This is especially true if you get headaches from Paul Greengrass fighting movies (i.e. the last two Bourne films) because for some reason director Louis Leterrier decided it would be fun to smash cut rapidly between feet, eyeballs, dust clouds, sword arms, and monster appendages for the first few fights. There were enough wide shots, especially toward the end, to keep me from killing someone, though.

If you really want a laugh, picture them filming it: sitting on a mechanical bull in a green room
wearing a skirt and clutching a rubber sword as people yell at you “pretend there’s a tentacle!”

Given all the aforesaid fighting of monsters, when we get to the final climactic battle with the Kraken, Perseus doesn’t fight it so much as show up in time to stop it, riding a rather ungainly and non-aerodynamic Pegasus. If certain other things didn’t attempt to interfere with his timely arrival, it would have been a pretty boring ending.

If you engage in air combat maneuvering on a winged horse, is it still called a dogfight?

I’ve seen both the 3-D and the regular-D versions, so I can tell you that there’s no need to spend that extra $3. Buy a snack instead (or part of one… movie food is EXPENSIVE!). Apart from a few token tentacles and raindrops, the 3-D version is just a glorified diorama in which Perseus and the monster-du-jour occupy the foreground and a bunch of rocks occupy the background.

Your brain makes this distinction as you watch in 2-D anyway

I can’t speak to the accuracy of myths in this movie, since everything I know about Greek mythology came from reading Percy Jackson and the Olympians. I can, however, tell you that there is no clashing of titans in this movie. The only brief mention of titans comes in the voice-over back story. A better title would have been “Clash of the Sons and Grandsons of Titans,” but that’s not as catchy.

Too bad “Chariots of Fire” was already taken.

Is the movie worth seeing? Sure, if you like that kind of thing. There are a few (five) decent jokes, lots of star power, nice scenery, and not-crappy CGI. There’s even one hilarious part where Perseus and the Djinn are going after Medusa and acting like partners from a buddy-cop movie.

“Okay, you distract her, and I’ll yell and throw myself at her.”

So I wouldn’t call it waste of money. Or rather, a waste of my Dad’s money 🙂

Buy Clash of the Titans (the new one) on DVD

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