Sired by the god Zeus (Liam Neeson, "Taken," "Chloe"), demigod Perseus (Sam Worthington, "Avatar") must face his heritage or lose the City of Argos and its Princess Andromeda (Alexa Davalos, "The Mist," "Defiance") when the god Hades (Ralph Fiennes, "Harry Potter's" Lord Voldemort) tries to fool his brother and makes an underhanded attempt to steal Zeus's thunder by crushing the men Zeus created and loves in a "Clash of the Titans."
Do yourself a favor. If you haven't seen the admittedly cheesy 1981 version of this starring 'L.A. Law's' Harry Hamlin and the last stop motion animation work of the great Ray Harryhausen, go rent that instead. If you have seen it, go rent it instead anyway. This rework, directed by "The Incredible Hulk's Louis Leterrier, is boring, its lead bland, and, with 3D added in post production, ugly looking. In fact, if you must see this version, I would heartily recommend buying a cheaper, 2D ticket as the film looked better the moment I took off my glasses. 2010's "Clash of the Titans" makes "Percy Jackson and the Olympians" look far more appealing in retrospect.
Literary license has been taken with the legend of Perseus. Instead of King Acrisius's (Jason Flemyng, "Layer Cake") daughter bearing a son foretold to kill him, it's now his wife which Zeus tricks into having sex. Acrisius is also the one now turned into Calibos, the satyr-like beast which becomes one of Perseus' challenges on his way to slay the Kraken and save Andromeda. While 1981's clockwork owl Bubo makes a cameo (the film's highlight, which should tell you all you need to know), he's left behind in favor of an entirely new love interest for Perseus, Io (Gemma Arterton, "The Boat That Rocked"), a stunning woman cursed with immortality for having spurned the advances of a god (the legend rewards Perseus with Andromeda).
The best part of the film is the beginning when baby Perseus is found floating in the sea in a coffin with his dead mother by Spyros (Pete Postlethwaite, 2006's "The Omen"), who adopts the child with his wife Marmara (Elizabeth McGovern, even less of a presence than Winona Ryder was as Spock's mom in "Star Trek"). The fishing family is present when soldiers of Argos defy Zeus by toppling his giant statue into the sea because King Kepheus (Vincent Regan, "Troy," "300") has determined the gods needed them more than they need the gods. Hades appears from the underworld and lashes out, sending Perseus' mother, father and little sister to their deaths beneath the waves. The toppling of Zeus is the film's best effect, followed by Perseus' attempt to rescue his family in their swiftly sinking ship. It's all downhill from here.
Perseus is among the few Argos soldiers who return to be feted by their king and queen, Cassiopeia (Polly Walker, HBO's "Rome"), who incurs the gods' wrath when she proclaims her daughter more beautiful than Aphrodite. Hades appears to inform them that the Kraken will come in ten days time and only Andromeda's blood will sate him. Perseus sets off with a motley group whose introduction is so confused I could only figure out two of the quartet's names. Draco (Mads Mikkelsen, "Casino Royale") teaches the fisherman how to fight, but is frustrated when Perseus rejects a sword which is a gift from Zeus (he's determined to 'do this as a man'). Eusabios (Nicholas Hoult, "A Single Man") is identifiable because everyone likes to say his name a lot. Solon (Liam Cunningham, "The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor") and Ixas (Hans Matheson, "Sherlock Holmes") make up the party until they are joined by a Jin, a supernatural creature that looks like an extra from "Star Wars."
When Perseus cuts off the hand of Calibos, the scorpiochs spring from his blood in the sand. These creatures don't look particularly real and all the film's action sequences are edited to obscure. The three witches, who share one eye and hold the answer as to how to defeat the Kraken, are uninspired. The ferryman at the entrance to Hades, where the band must travel to procure the head of Medusa (Natalia Vodianova, "CQ"), sails up on a rig that looks like a Disneyland ride. Uma (Thurman, who played Medusa in "Percy Jackson") could beat Natalia's butt and Harryhausen's version was much scarier. The Kraken is overblown and looks like rear projection when Argos is in the foreground.
The acting in this film is rote (the women fare bit better than the men); the 3D awful, with shadows, blurring and general inconsistency; the 'magical' beasts all unexceptional barring the Pegasus, a stunning black stallion winged via CGI. An attempt to add some political flavor in Argos with a poor prophet, Prokopion (Luke Treadway, "Brothers of the Head"), calling for the blood of the one royal who shows compassion for her people, is risible. Politics on Mount Olympus aren't much more interesting and poor Ralph Fiennes' makeup only succeeds in making him look like he has a severe case of psoriasis on his forehead.
There just isn't much to recommend "Clash of the Titans." The 1981 version certainly isn't high art, but has fun, which is more than can be said for this humorless, dull retelling.
What a difference nearly 30 years make when you compare the sword and sorcery, gods be damned 1981 classic, the original “Clash of the Titans,” animated by the great Ray Harryhausen, to the current, just plain bad, remake. Director Louis Leterrier ham hands the equally ham-handed script by Travis Beacham, Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi in a mish mash of mythology whose enhancement with shoddy 3D – this was outsourced to an Indian production company and the filmmakers should ask for their money back – is near sinful in its poor quality. Some things are 3D but much that is not. The filmmakers would have a fared better (and cheaper) with 2D. Either way, the new “Clash of the Titans” sucks. I give it a D.
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