Sarcasm does come with its downsides. Last week, while gently mocking the trailer for Wrath of the Titans, I mentioned that I would likely never watch the movie, as I’d never bothered to see the first one.
The very next day, I went up to my parents’ house for the holidays. My stepfather just got a brand new, LED TV for Christmas. Guess what he wanted to watch on it?
Perseus (Sam Worthington) must kill Medusa so he can kill the Kraken so he can save the princess. Fighting (and a lame self-identity crisis) ensues.
Titans . . . Will . . . CLASH!
1. I don’t understand this. Why is everyone so hellbent on making the ancient Greeks defy their gods? In Clash of the Titans, the humans have declared war on the Olympians, angry at them because . . . well, I’m not sure if one specific reason is given, honestly. Maybe because the gods unnecessarily fuck with their lives on a daily basis? I mean, I get the humans have cause for being pissed. I just think they’re being a little short-sighted about this whole campaign against immortal beings thing. Especially when losing a hundred men just to knock over a fucking statue is considered a victory.
Even though I think it’s kind of a weird trend, this whole lack-of-faith thing actually plays much better in Clash of the Titans than it does in, say, Immortals, where the humans don’t even believe their gods exist and where Zeus refuses to a damn thing about it but pout and talk a lot of mopey nonsense. At least, rage and defiance I can buy. Atheist ancient Greeks and Olympians who don’t believe in interfering? Fucking please.
2. If you haven’t seen Immortals . . . well, forgive me, because I might compare the two of them quite a bit during this review. (Don’t worry, though. There will be no spoilers for either film.) See, in Immortals, Zeus is played by Luke Evans. In Clash of the Titans, Zeus is played by Liam Neeson . . . but Luke Evans is not left out of the fray! He plays Apollo in COTT for an entire seven seconds!
And just like Immortals, the gods in COTT are mostly used as set pieces rather than characters. If you look on IMDb, you can see who plays which God (apparently, Athena, Ares, Hermes, Hestia, Hera, Hephaestus, and Poseidon all make an appearance) but since no one is actually named, you really only know who Zeus and Hades (Ralph Fiennes) are.
3. I gave Zeus quite a bit of shit in my review for Immortals. I feel a little bad about that now because—even though the character totally deserved it—Luke Evans at least tried to give Zeus a certain amount of soul so that you could attempt to sympathize with him. You know, he acted.
Liam Neeson, on the other hand? I’m pretty sure Liam Neeson was just there for the paycheck. I mean, I know the guy can act, I know it, but in this movie, he’s just so . . . “Good Christ, I hate my life; how did I get roped into doing this part again?” Maybe he lost a bet? Either that, or he was just so blinded by his own armor that he could hardly bother to concentrate on anything else.
I really didn’t think anything could out-ridiculous Odin’s eyepatch from Thor, but Zeus here might have just proved me wrong. Seriously, this is hilariously bad. Did the costume designer lose a bet too?
4. Ralph Fiennes doesn’t look quite as silly as Liam Neeson . . .
. . . but it’s close.
Fiennes also seems a touch more committed to his role than Neeson . . . which, unfortunately, isn’t saying all that much. At least he bothers to have a semblance of a personality and, you know, facial expressions. But he’s also awfully cartoonish and two-dimensional. Admittedly, the character doesn’t appear to have a ton of depth on paper, but Fiennes certainly doesn’t bring much to the table, either. Hades is kind of a watered down version of Voldemort . . . but with really, really bad hair.
5. I do feel a little bad for Hades, though. (Er, the god himself, not the actor or character.) If Hades is in the script, then he’s the bad guy. I mean, I get why . . . it’s hard to put a positive spin on Lord of the Underworld . . . but as far as I remember, Hades is never really up to any mischief in the mythology. You know, he’s just kind of there. I get why people want to equate him to Satan and all, but . . . he’s really not.
6. I guess I should talk about the hero of the piece, shouldn’t I?
Sam Worthington, well. He’s not as bad as I was expecting. Although, again, that isn’t saying much. Seriously, I don’t get Sam Worthington. He was one of the best things about Terminator: Salvation—one of the only good things about Terminator: Salvation—but he’s so pancake flat in Avatar that I kind of lost all hope in him, and his turn as Perseus here isn’t exactly bringing it back. I don’t think he’s quite as wooden as some reviews made him out to be, but that’s also hell and gone from saying that he’s good.
The problem with Perseus is that he really demands a skilled actor, at least in this particular version of COTT. See, Perseus has this bullshit existentialist crisis when he finds out that he’s a demigod . . . like, sheesh, some people really have it hard, being super strong and getting shiny presents from all-powerful beings. Okay, that’s not entirely fair. Perseus has decent reasons to hate the gods. But when Zeus starts raining down gifts that could save not only his life, but the lives of all the men around him, will our great hero use them? Of course not. He would prefer to stand around and pout.
The thing is, the script is aware of the issue. Perseus even has a conversation with one of the soldiers, Draco (Mads Mikkelsen), who more or less tells him that he’s being an ass and needs to just grow up and deal with the fact that he’s not completely human. There’s actually interesting material here to work with—you know, when pride is a virtue versus when it’s selfish and cowardly, or the whole humanity versus divinity issue and which half, if either, is more important—but Worthington simply can’t rise to the material. As a result, Perseus comes off as a self-important teenager, and you’re left with very few characters to root for.
7. What I can’t understand about these kinds of movies—why they needlessly change a character’s entire backstory instead of just creating a completely new character. Case in point:
Now, Gemma Arterton is fine in this—her entire character is pretty much centered around looking ethereal and, sometimes, vaguely fierce—but, seriously, what the fuck. In Clash of the Titans, Io is Perseus’s, like, guardian angel or something. I mean, she’s not really an angel, but she’s not quite a human, either. She’s been cursed with agelessness, see, for resisting a god’s advances. (I can’t remember if the actual god is specified or not, but Wikipedia seems to think it was Poseidon.)
In mythology, however?
Io is this chick who Zeus wants. She does say no to him, for awhile, but he eventually has his way with her. When his madly jealous wife wants Io’s head on a stick, Zeus transforms her into this to keep her hidden:
Io’s a cow, people. She’s that one chick who gets turned into a cow. Hell, I referenced that myth in my review for Immortals. What the hell is this ageless guardian bullshit? If you’re going to change a character that dramatically, why don’t you just give her an original name and be done with it?
8. I’m also not loving a lot of the special effects in this movie. I mean, I guess the Djinn are okay, but they’re way creepier looking in Supernatural. And Medusa?
Crap CGI is so depressing.
9. I did like Andromeda, however.
Admittedly, she doesn’t have a lot to do here but look, you know, helpless. Still, Andromeda has a great reaction when her mom (who’s an idiot) says that her daughter is more beautiful than any of the other gods. Andromeda starts shaking her head, all, oh, please don’t say that, no, no please don’t say that, please don’t put my life in jeopardy just because you’re a proud moron!
10. Finally, while Clash of the Titans is certainly not the worst thing I’ve ever seen—it has some enjoyable moments, anyway, even if it takes itself more seriously than any movie showcasing that shiny bullshit god-armor ought to—some of the action scenes could do with a bit of editing. There’s one scene with these giant scorpion things, and while the scorpions are kind of creepy at first, the scene just keeps going on and on and on and on. Likewise, the climactic scene near the end with the Kraken apparently wasn’t big enough for the director, because he added on all these ridiculous other obstacles (like the Furies, who apparently work for Hades now?) that just drag it the fuck out. I started to zone pretty heavily during those two scenes, and since this is an action movie? Yeah, that’s not good.
I should do a spoiler section—there’s another big deviation from the mythology near the end that’s worth commenting on—but I’m lazy and have other stuff I need to do. So.
Mostly mediocre. Clearly wanted to distance itself from the campiness of the original (hence no Bubo—except that one joke) but apparently forgot to be, you know, good. Kind of lousy acting among leads, particularly Liam Neeson and Sam Worthington, but a decent supporting cast. Weirdly more enjoyable than Immortals, but even less here to recommend.
Liam Neeson. Admittedly, the movie depends more on Sam Worthington’s performance, but Neeson is pretty bad here, and dammit, I expect more from the guy.
Embrace who you are. Even if it’s at the eleventh hour and a ton of other people would be alive right now if you had just sucked up your pride and picked up your daddy’s fucking sword DAYS AGO. . . it’s important to accept yourself for the things you cannot change . . . and the wisdom to know that you deserve to be punched in the face because seriously. DAYS AGO. Asshat.