Clash of the Titans – Ridiculous But Satisfying

Clash of the Titans - Ridiculous But Satisfying

I admit myself a bit biased (and therefore a failure as a film critic) when it comes to Clash of the Titans for several reasons. Firstly, as a young lad I fell in love with the 1981 original. I still occasionally watch the film, although it is more of a nostalgic experience rather than an entertaining one. Second, as a former student of classical Greek mythology, I’m always interested in the newest depictions of the ancient Greek characters and legends, no matter how much of a Hollywood treatment they may have received. Thirdly, the film boasts two of my all time favorite actors: Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes, longtime friends who are sharing the screen for the first time since the Holocaust masterpiece, Schindler’s List.

Clash of the Titans movies
Clash of the Titans movies
For these reasons and more, I have closely followed the development of this film from the scripting and casting process all the way to the heartbreaking news that it would be receiving the 3D treatment. The story is loosely based on the thousand year old legend, while adding elements of the 1981 original. The filmmakers have also added elements of their own, which I believe was a wise choice since everyone and their mother should know the basic story. Sam Worthington is Perseus, the demigod who is chosen to save the city of Argos from the Kraken, a great big beast with an appetite for the young virgin princess, Andromeda. As an action hero, Worthington is great. But for a fisherman who claims to be nonviolent, it’s odd to see him walk, talk, and grimace as though he’s about to jump into a boxing ring. There’s also the never aging Io, Perseus’s lifelong protector and possible love interest, played by Gemma Arterton, who serves the film mainly to stand around and look good. Neeson and Fiennes play Zeus and Hades, and are great as usual, but the real scene stealer in this film is Danish actor Mads Mikkelson. You probably last saw him in Casino Royale as James Bond’s blood weeping nemesis. In Clash, he plays Draco, a hardened warrior who supports Perseus on his journey but is hesitant to respect him. The 1981 original used impressive claymation to create the beasts and monsters; today’s film uses CGI, and results in some of the best visual effects I’ve seen in years. There are plenty of giant scorpions, winged horses, and of course, the Kraken, all of which look terrific. Medusa’s design is disappointing, but the scene leading up to her beheading is thrilling and satisfying. Another surprise is the use of landscapes, which I believe were filmed in Ethiopia. If you really want to enjoy the visuals, stick to the 2D theaters. This is the way director Louis Leterrier intended it to be viewed, and you’ll only miss out on a few credits flying through the screen. I enjoyed this film, but I’m afraid a lot of audiences won’t. I suppose it’s hard to be accepted as a fantasy movie in the serious world of post-Lord of the Rings Hollywood. Clash of the Titans is a relatively simple film about gods, beasts, and plenty of battles. There are plenty of ridiculous bits of dialogue, impossible stunts, beheadings, and de-limbings. I would call it lighthearted and fun. A lot of viewers will use words like “silly” and “dumb.” Does it have its flaws? Yes. Am I happy I saw it? Absolutely.

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