Title: Clash Of The Titans
Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy
Director: Louis Leterrier
Screenwriters: Travis Beacham, Phil Hay
Starring: Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes
Clash of the Titans Liam Neeson, playing none other than Zeus, King of the Gods, makes one hell of an entrance in Clash of the Titans. When we first see him, donning a gleaming suit of armor, bathed in warm light, and shot in soft focus, he is shouting “No!” and banging what I think is a staff on the floor of the Gods’ hangout on Mount Olympus. This, I thought, was the spirit. If you’re going to do Greek Gods in this day and age, they had better be wrathful, decked out like gay centurions, and played by someone like Liam Neeson.
Sadly, that is just about the only such giddy moment of silliness to be found in this dreary, moribund remake, which consists mostly of boring CGI monsters battling even duller heroes. It’s a travesty: a tedious movie about a demigod who leads a righteous human rebellion against oppressive, neglectful deities. That should be a crime. The conceit itself is more exciting than anything director Louis Leterrier (the terrific Unleashed and the so-so The Incredible Hulk) and his team of writers can come up with.
Early screenings have led to a lot of complaitns about the movie’s 3-D effects, which are the result of a retrofitting process begun after it became apparent that 3-D is a moneymaker. (This is as opposed to something like Avatar, which was filmed specifically for 3-D.) The 3-D in Clash of the Titans is unspectacular (you can watch the film sans glasses without much trouble), somewhat headache-inducing, and it does demonstrate some of the format’s limitations: fast-cut action scenes become a(n even more) bewildering mess, and some scenes that are intended to be eerie instead become goofy. But really, the sub-par 3-D is a drop in the film’s bucket of dim, muddy awfulness. Clash of the Titans blows in any number of dimensions.
It amounts to a series of battle scenes. The demigod Perseus (Sam Worthington, raspy-voiced and dead-eyed) and his team of human rebels must fight three supernatural beasts unleashed by the Gods to stop them: first a trio of malevolent crab-like monstrosities, then Medusa, and finally the Kraken, an unspeakable sea lizard creature the size of several cruise ships. The battles are loosely strung together by a plot that’s mostly there to contrive excuses for our heroes to shuttle from place to place for the next one. Though battling the spawn of vengeful gods for the survival of the human race is cosmic, rousing stuff, Clash nonetheless manages to make the stakes seem non-existent. There’s no sense of danger, and Ray Harryhausen’s creations in the original film surely inspired more awe than these generic CGI beasts.
Medusa is particularly disappointing. Though an actress (Natalia Vodianova) is credited in the role, the character looked entirely computer-generated to me — a snake with a human head and torso, slithering and screeching, kind of gross but not particularly creepy or frightening. In a good example of the film’s literal-mindedness, it’s not enough that one look in Medusa’s eyes turns you to stone; she has to go all demonic, too. Chris Columbus, with the help of Uma Thurman, managed a far scarier and more memorable Medusa earlier this year in the kidflick Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief.
The battle with the Kraken is even less imaginative, playing out exactly the way you’d expect; the thing roars and writhes around in the water for a while before being defeated. I dunno. I’m a sucker for this sort of thing, but Clash of the Titans bored me to tears. There’s plenty of money on the screen, but no energy or conviction; no sense that the movie believes any of this matters. By the end of it, even Liam Neeson’s Zeus seems weary.