Starring: Sam Worthington, Gemma Arterton, Ralph Fiennes, Liam Neeson, Danny Houston, Jason Flemyng, Mads Mikkelson
Director: Louis Leterrier
Writer(s): Travis Beacham, Phil Hay
Cinematography: Peter Menzies Jr.
Original Score: Ramin Djawadi
Running Time: 106 Mins.
Updating the original version of Clash of the Titans (1981) for today’s audience was, quite frankly, a no-brainer, a blockbuster premise if ever there was one that sees Demi-God Perseus, son of Zeus, face off against all manner of creatures, from Medusa, to Harpies to Scorpioks (giant scorpions) and the Kraken. Each lovingly rendered using stop-motion effects in their original form and now ripe for CGI re-imagining using the latest technology, though as we all know big-budget and effects cannot make a silk purse from a sow’s ear, this is not to say that Clash of the Titans (2010) is a disaster, more a collection of effects-heavy set pieces loosely spun together through the most slender of premises and acting that on the whole proves hampered by the lack of characterisation.
Though it is a fair observation to say that Summer Blockbuster’s aren’t known for their acting or script the bar has been raised a touch with the likes of The Dark Knight and Pirates of the Caribbean of late, meaning we expect either a bit of plot to match the flash or at the very least a charismatic lead that transcends the pedestrian scripting. Titans offers neither of these and while Sam Worthington has proven himself a capable actor amidst a CGI backdrop in Terminator Salvation and Avatar he seems a little lost on this occasion, displaying none of the charisma that marked him out in the former and likeability that helped us through the slog of Avatar. Spending most of the film claiming he is a man not a god does little to further our empathy for him or his enhance his likeability, rather he ends up more a whiny teenager than Percy Jackson was in this film’s earlier film dealing with a considerably younger Demi-God!
Thankfully all manner of beasties are on hand to provide some respite between the lame attempts at character development (if that’s what you can call it!), episodically jumping from set piece to set piece meaning that seekers of big-dumb action will likely be impressed enough to warrant the ticket price and the budget is up there to be seen on-screen. All of the (largely) re-designed creatures are a success if not all are realised with quite the same level of success, Medusa while creepy at first looks like the Scorpion King’s better looking sister, and the harpies are too flurried to be seen in all their glory but the make-up work on the Ferryman and Stygian Witches are a highlight and the new-look Kraken is a wonder to behold.
Director Leterrier did great things with The Incredible Hulk two years ago but he just can’t reach those heights here, occasionally there are glimmers of that great eye for a set piece he displayed so well with Hulk but in an attempt to cram so much in over such a short running time with little plot to string it together you are likely to leave thinking little more than “meh, that was okay”, hardly a glowing endorsement for the “Summer’s” (a season which incidentally seems to get longer year on year in the film world) first tent-pole release.
Thank heavens then for Ralph Fiennes who in his all-too-brief screen time lights up the screen in ways that no amount of money and visual effects can. All raspy and appearing in billows of smoke to torture and torment all and sundry, his Hades is the highlight and provides the menace and danger that is lacking elsewhere. It’s just a shame that Neeson can’t match him for onscreen presence with a Zeus that is both dull and ineffective, the thought of Fiennes and Neeson sharing scenes once more is a tantalising one that sadly is only fulfilled on one side. The same can be said of the other gods, with Danny Huston near unrecognisable as Poseidon, why hire such a good actor when you are going to have them speak only one line!
A final word of warning, Clash of the Titans is being pushed as a 3D release first and foremost, do not, whatever you do, see it in 3D. A dire post-production rush-job means that this is not the “Real” 3D of Avatar or even The Final Destination but a process that has left the print blurred and incomprehensibly bad, a 3D film has to be edited differently, shot with the process in mind. Imagine the Bourne film’s in 3D if you will, it wouldn’t work and neither does this showing that while the format is proving a success in some areas (animation) it is the finest use of the format as a gimmick in others and a gimmick that makes an average film even worse at that.
Clash of the Titans is a Demi-God of a Summer blockbuster, cram full of money shots it lacks a note-worthy hero and the script is lacking to say the least, thank the gods then for Fiennes as Hades lighting up the screen every time he appears elevating it to a slightly above average experience … sporadically at least.