bill bodkin looks at the newest adaptation of the sword & sandal fantasy epic
Clash of the Titans is a lot like when someone re-tells you the events of a really cool story…that they’ve told a million times. Sure, all the big moments are in there, but due how many times they’ve told it, the spark and interest get lost. So as a result after you finish hearing this “amazing” story you’re kind of left with a “so that’s it” kinda feeling.
This is exactly what happened with the 2010 remake of the ultra-cheese-tastic 80s fantasy epic. There’s great landscapes, brilliant special effects and a lot of fun action sequences — but no drama. Never once do you feel engaged with our hero Perseus (Sam Worthington) or do you feel any sense of suspense during his battle with the Cloverfield-esque Kraken. The spark and interest in this story get lost in the telling of the story.
Am I surprised? No, because director Louis Letterier, did the exact same thing with The Incredible Hulk. He presented a shoot-the-works/larger than life fantasy epic (with a solid cast) that you could really care less about. Sure it’s visually cool and there’s some decent action, but at the end of the day it’s sadly unmemorable.
Many critics have pointed to Worthington’s performance as a major drawback for Titans. He lacks charisma, he’s too stoic, as stiff as one of Medusa’s victims. These criticisms come from the way he was directed, not his lack of acting talent. Go rent Terminator Salvation and see how he carried that film. Remember Avatar, pretty good in that too. Worthington makes for a solid action star, think a younger Russell Crowe, but without Crowe’s now sadly underutilized acting pedigree.
Outside of special effects, which are spot on, the supporting cast really makes the film enjoyable. How can Ralph Fiennes and Liam Neeson, on the screen at the same time as Hades and Zeus respectively, not be awesome? Neeson bellowing “Release the Kraken” was worth the ticket price and with that line alone blew away Laurence Olivier’s performance as Zeus in the 80s. Other acting highlights include my favorite “bad ass” character actor Mads Mikkelsen (the bad guy from Casino Royale) who raspy whispers and dynamic swordplay tend to steal the thunder from Worthington. And finally Gemma Atherton’s Io is such more interesting than the film’s “damsel in distress” Andromeda. Atherton, who’s voice is eerily similar to Rachel Weisz, proves herself a solid, smart and action-friendly female foil to Worthington’s Perseus.
Clash of the Titans is not a bad film, it’s a breezy, enjoyable popcorn flick that is the perfect “check your brain at the door” after a hard day. It’ll definitely be a cool rent on Blu-Ray or to catch in theaters on a rainy day. So get your Greek on if you like, but don’t jump on your Pegasus and rush out to see it.