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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Review: Clash of the Titans (2010)

* *

Director: Louis Leterrier
Starring: Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes

Given how scathing its reviews were when it was in theaters - not to mention how critically reviled its sequel, Wrath of the Titans is currently - I was expecting Clash of the Titans to be a much worse film. Maybe it's because I saw it on TV rather than in the theater and converted to 3D, but I found it to be a perfectly watchable (although not particularly good) action adventure.

Based loosely in Greek mythology (and when I say "loosely" I mean that people who have devoted their lives to studying the Classics are probably inspired to slam their heads into walls at the conclusion of this movie), Clash of the Titans centres on Perseus (Sam Worthington), the son of Zeus (Liam Neeson) and a human woman. When the Gods, lead by treacherous Hades (Ralph Fiennes), declare war on humanity, Perseus must come to humanity's rescue by defeating the Kraken before it can destroy the Kingdom of Argos.

Perseus sets out with a team which includes soldiers Draco (Mads Mikkelsen), Solon (Liam Cunningham), Eusebius (Nicholas Hoult), Ixas (Hans Matheson), and along the way they pick up new members, namely a Djinn (Ian Whyte) and Io (Gemma Arterton), a woman cursed by the Gods with agelessness who has been watching over Perseus his entire life. As they proceed on their journey they encounter many adventures, including being attacked by giant scorpions, visiting the Stygian Witches who predict Perseus' failure, a trip to the Underworld and down the river Styx, and a battle with Medusa. Their numbers steadily dwindle until only Perseus is left to face the Kraken and save Andromeda (Alexa Davalos).

The action scenes are faily well done, although they consist primarily of lots of quick cuts rather than fluid battle choreography, and director Louis Leterrier keeps the story moving at a quick and generally engaging pace. As I said at the outset, the story itself doesn't really reflect the stories of Greek mythology (or the 1981 version of Clash of the Titans), but the screenwriters (Travis Beacham, Phil Hay, and Matt Manfredi) are successful in Frankensteining together elements from the pre-existing stories to create something that is cohesive, at least by the standards of action movies.

The film does have some big problems, chief amongst them being the fact that Worthington doesn't really have the charisma needed to pull off a swords and sandals epic. He's a decent actor to be sure, but just not an exciting enough presence to pull off a larger than life character like Perseus. The other problems are issues that are common amongst big budget action movies, such as a lack of emphasis on developing characters, but all in all Clash of the Titans really isn't the horrible trainwreck it's been made out to be. It's not a good movie, mind you, but it is a watchable and even often enjoyable one.

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