Title: Clash of the Titans
Directed By: Louis Leterrier
Starring: Sam Worthington, Gemma Arterton, Ralph Fiennes, Liam Neeson, Alexa Davalos, Mads Mikkelsen
The ‘open item’ policy at stores like Best Buy is great. Someone returns a lightly used product, it’s repackaged and resold at a lesser cost. The downside is that it’s a final sale deal. If you’re used item is actually used and abused, you’re screwed. Post-production 3D conversion is the ‘open item’ of filmmaking. You’re creating the effect of shooting in 3D, but at a lesser cost. But sadly, in Clash of the Titans’ case, 3D conversion is damaged goods and is just a gimmick, not a good deal.
The film opens with a fisherman (Pete Postlethwaite) finding a gigantic box floating in the water. He pulls his haul aboard and is surprised to find a woman and child inside. Sadly, the woman has passed, but the young boy survives. Little does this fisherman know, the boy who he adopts as his son, only survived because he’s not entirely human, he’s Perseus (Sam Worthington), the son of Zeus (Liam Neeson). During a fateful encounter with Hades (Ralph Fiennes), Perseus’ family perishes and he winds up in Argos.
Meanwhile, up on Olympus, the gods are fed up with the humans and their lack of praise. Zeus permits Hades to release the Kraken upon Argos to teach mankind a lesson. However, Hades is only thinking of himself. Unlike his brother, Hades feeds off of man’s fear, not prayer. Argos’ only hope is Perseus.
Clash of the Titans is a well-balanced blend of action and dramatic moments. Just went you’re about to get bored of the period prattle, you’re hurled into an intense battle sequence giving your blood flow a necessary jumpstart. The pace is the film’s most vital asset. It’s flawed through and through, but nevertheless, thoroughly entertaining.
The worst of the faults can be masked by simply never removing the 3D glasses. By doing so, you’ll reveal what a massive waste of money that is 3D conversion. Except for landscape shots and combat scenes, the entire film is flat. None of the more thrilling moments even benefit from the extra dimension. The sole portions that are particularly glorious are the scenic shots. This isn’t the Smithsonian; pretty pictures don’t justify the third dimension. This mishap doesn’t drag the film itself down, just your hard-earned cash.
What can be a little districting are the performances. Having Worthington wear a potato sack, doesn’t make him a believable down and out laborer. He’s got the scowl of vengeance down, but when it comes to actually making a connection, he falls flatter than the 3D image. Now we’re left with a lead character that could be swallowed up by Hades for all we care. Sadly the same goes for the rest of the mortals. Gemma Arterton makes for a beautiful Io, but her stiff performance barely softens her own character, let alone Worthington’s. Both are all looks, no depth. Peruses’ band of warriors are the most memorable of the bunch. They’re the sole source of comic relief and some actually manage to win some empathy.
As for the gods, it’s understandable why the humans won’t worship them. Dousing Neeson in shiny metal and blurring him with heavenly light just doesn’t get the job done. His better moments are the ones he shares with Perseus on the ground, during which he’s not dripping with godly garb. Fiennes fairs a little better as Hades. His special effects are rather effective. His entrances via a mass of black cloud are particularly chilling. However, his intense effort to make the rest of the performance just as unsettling is overdone and often fails.
The special effects department doesn’t accomplish much beyond Hades. The Medusa sequence is the worst of the bunch. The Clash of the Titans version of the snake-headed monster makes the Uma Thurman one in Percy Jackson look like a work of art. She’s no slimy serpent with the power to turn man to stone, she’s merely a cartoon snake topped with the head of Celia from Monsters Inc. The Medusa sequence might be the most poorly rendered moment, but the most disappointing is the grand Kraken-filled finale. That was no Kraken; it was just a mess of legs and tentacles. This battle scene has so much stuffed into it, it’s dizzying to focus and impossible to appreciate the action.
In fact, that’s Clash of the Titans in its entirety, a mash up of battles, creatures and angry gods. This is not a quality film, but that doesn’t mean it’s not entertaining. There’s no time to fidget or check your watch because you’re locked into the plot at all times. It maintains such a steady beat that you’re never given the opportunity to detach from the events unfolding. Aside from the rage of being tricked into forking over extra cash for a third dimension that practically doesn’t even exist, Clash of the Titans isn’t half bad.
By Perri Nemiroff