Filmed top to bottom for a 2D release, Clash of the Titans composition, lighting, effects and edits were created for the unaided eye. As a result, Clash of the Titans retrofitted 3D presentation is a dim, vision punishing mess of double imaging and off-kilter depth; slipshod artifacts that disrupt viewing to the point of souring it.
Technological grumbling aside, Clash of the Titans the movie fares slightly better than its 3D boondoggle thanks to its world of exotic pizazz and the goofy strength of mythological fantasy. Decidedly darker than the 1981 original, Clash of the Titans earnestly updates its predecessor’s aesthetic with armor for togas, cornrows for mop-tops and earnest crankiness for good humor, but suffers from an equal distribution of emotional vacancy and watch-checking sag when monsters aren’t stomping, roaring and slithering onscreen.
Tired of the Gods’ petty cruelty mankind has taken to relying on their own strength. They’ve stopped praying, stormed Mount Olympus and defied the Gods.
Petulant rebellion doesn’t sit well with Zeus (Liam Neeson), who sends brother Hades (a very brotherly looking Ralph Fiennes) to unleash some God-fearing terror on the city of Argos in the form of a choice: offer up the princess Andromeda (Alexa Davalos) or face the wrath of an angry Kraken in 10 days time.
Perseus (Sam Worthington), surrogate son of a God-stomped fisherman and bastard son of Zeus, signs up to stop the Kraken, save the princess and avenge the death of his adopted family. With a handful of gruff warriors and mysterious hot-sage Io (the angelic Gemma Arterton), Perseus suits up and sets out for some Grecian style vengeance. Along the way he stabs/beheads monsters, rides a Pegasus, discovers his lineage and shows the Gods a good ol’ fashioned what-for.
1981’s Clash of the Titans was a light, mythological adventure that basked in the charm of its Harryhausen-born monsters. Director Louis Leterrier’s remake keeps some of that same DNA, but never finds time to introduce a relationship that isn’t a one-dimensional key to unlocking a revelation or a character who isn’t dying to lead the movie into the next effect sequence. The movie feels heavily pared down to action sequences and relies on the clamoring largess of special effects and fantasy to connect with the audience.
In a movie less concerned about character, all that stuff could be dismissed. But Clash of the Titans does makes efforts to indicate its character relationships are important– the quest and subsequent plot depend on them. Unfortunately, the decision to amp action over connective tissue bumps princess Andromeda, Io, a pair of tag-along hunters and an adversarial relationship between Perseus and warrior leader Draco to nothing more than passing nods– and when characters start taking dirt naps, it’s difficult to imagine why it matters.
Still, there’s fun to be found in Clash‘s creatures and the hijinks of Fiennes’ oozing, duplicitous Hades vs. Worthington’s growling Perseus. There’s also an interestingly secular take on God vs. Man theology: humans were empowered by Gods, so with a bit of God in all humans, what’s the point of Gods anyway- isn’t it our worship that gives them power in the first place? It’s a meaty piece of post-religious bit of deconstructionism, but one that feels almost too heavy for a film with material this light.
And that’s the disappointment; Clash of the Titans is a movie that,in spite of its potential campiness, takes itself too seriously but doesn’t demand much to remember. Imagery and locales succeed in entertaining, but only stiltedly so, which makes Clash its own Kraken. As the movie’s centerpiece, the Kraken is a disconnected melange of squid, crab and Gears of War Berzerker— but is never shown in full. The thing is so enormous it never registers as comprehensible or tacitly ominous. The Kraken simply is.
Clash of the Titans carries the same weight. It’s a movie that can be enjoyed on levels of spectacle and fantasy, but one that ultimately disappoints.