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Itís not my adoration of filmmaker and master animator Ray Harryhausen that tilts my viewpoint of this new version of his Clash of the Titans.  I was surprisingly curious to see a possible improvement over what was never the most sterling of Harryhausenís ancient world fantasy offerings.  The original 1981 film doesnít have a patch on Jason and the Argonauts {1963}, or even the lesser Golden Voyage of Sinbad {1974}, so what could it hurt to give fresh eyes a try?  Well, thatís what I get for having hope.  I should have known better.  Without the innate charisma of Harryhausenís magical stop-motion monsters, ninety percent of this storyís charm is gone and left in its wake is this lumbering, leaden misfire so lacking in wit, art and spectacle that it makes the original film sublime by comparison.

In the long ago metropolis of Argos, a jealous man is driven to a desperate act.  Hurling a coffin from a high cliff, he rids himself of the spawn of his beguiled wife and Zeus, the king of the gods in disguise.  Perseus, the unwanted infant, will have the luck of the heavens on his side as his casket is discovered by a loving family, and from these unlikely beginnings will he discover that his fate is sealed by the deities.  Or is it?  As Perseusí divine paternity comes to light, the more determined he is to buck against it.  The pantheon on Mount Olympus has brought him nothing but grief from his conception to the tragedies in his young adulthood.  His losses set him on a quest to save the life of a princess whose parents were dumb enough to insult the gods, placing the young woman and possibly all of humanity in peril.

Charmless and utterly lackluster, thereís not one jaw-dropping moment in the whole of Clash of the Titans.  This remake concentrates much effort on making the audience sympathise more deeply with our hero, Perseus, but with its awful script and hollow action, a Clash of the Titans video game would have been far more involving than this tripe.  The film is so simplistic in its writing and set pieces that only the youngest of viewers will be captivated.  With dialog full of predictable empty clichťs and painfully bad attempts at humour, groans and unintended laughter permeated the screening I attended.  Often throughout the film, actors deliver their lines and then pose as if waiting for a reaction or trying to look heroic.  It also quickly becomes an uncleverly veiled, droning atheist tract with those who believe in the gods painted (literally) as the ignorant bad guys and Perseusí endless whining (Sam Worthington reminding us of a younger Mel Gibsonís intent snarl) about how he will face his quest as a man, not the half-god son of Zeus that he is, only reluctantly taking up Olympian assistance when all else fails.  Cue eye roll.

For all its alleged special effects advances over Harryhausenís claymation, Clash of the Titansí creatures are terribly unimpressive.  The CGI is not only lacking in creativity, but looks oddly outdated with a strange green screen disconnect between the pixel-born beasts and their human prey.  The action is loud and noisy, yet never thrilling and its insistent, shallow bombast put me in the mind of a Michael Bay attempt at Greek mythology.  As with one of Bayís epics, but mostly due to its own incongruous special effects, at no point do you ever truly feel the heroesí lives are in danger.  This is a movie that wouldíve been far better served in 2D; the CGI simply does not bear up under close inspection, nor is there any point when the 3D is necessary.  The audience doesnít even get a full gander at the anticipated undersea Titan, the Kraken, during the movieís climactic showdown; there are lots of tentacles and close-ups of its Cloverfield-looking face, but not one clear shot of the thing.  We donít get much of a display by the gods, either; most of the scenes on Mount Olympus are focused on Zeus and Hades, but when you do see them way in the background, all the goddesses are played by fashion models.  In a whimpering attempt at giving us a strong female heroine, we have Io, a demigod who protects Perseus.  While I could swear in the tales of Greek mythology that I ever read, Io was a cow, but here sheís a kicky wench whose dignified togas (- clearly made of ancient tissue paper) get ripped into sexy action hero girl fashions.  Furthermore, in an unnecessarily fanboy-friendly twist, the Gorgon Medusa is yet another model sexified to look like something out of the God of War video game rather than a creature so ugly her victims turn to stone at a glance.  Would that the ladies in the audience had been so favourably considered.  Clash of the Titans is singular in its ugliness.  This is some of the worst production design ever seen in a would-be spectacle; from its drab and glum-looking locations to the ridiculous matted, ratty-looking wigs and facial merkins sloppily glued to the faces of the few deities featured.  Zeus has nappy dreads in his beard and Hadesí red-rimmed toker eyes and long, parted-in-the-middle locks would look more apropos on a hippy lost at a Battlefield Earth convention.  The only visual that could truly be called stunning are the frequent upskirt shots of Sam Worthingtonís leather mini, but even that formidable sight isnít enough to save this mess.  The film is poor right down to its awful score, which is as cheesy and uninspired as the picture it inhabits.  And as if intended to bury itself even further, this movie hit bottom with me about a third of the way in with their backhanded diss of original Clash of the Titansí star, Bubo the mechanical owl.  Belittle Bubo, puny mortal filmmakers, and feel the fury of the mighty Gorgon Diva. 

Not for a moment an improvement over the original film and judged on its own merits, itís just plain bad.  I really expected more from Louis Letterier, who directed 2008ís The Incredible Hulk much more successfully than this unfortunate rehash.  Wait for the inevitable video game tie-in; itís bound to be much more entertaining than this.

 

 

~ The Lady Miz Diva

April 2nd, 2010

 

 

 

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Photos

(Courtesy of  Warner Brothers Pictures)

 

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