Posted by: Tony – Apr 02, 2010
It really is marvelous when an action movie is able to build up momentum and maintain a break-neck pace from start to finish. It is less marvelous when that pace is only kept by sacrificing characterization and plot development. Such is the fate of Clash of the Titans. The very first scene allows us to witness a fisherman finding an orphan baby in the middle of the ocean. Five minutes later, that baby, now an adult, witnesses the tragic death of his adoptive family at the hands of a god. Another five minutes passes and the young man’s mysterious past is revealed in full and he is off to take revenge on the gods. The remainder of the two hour run time is filled with sword fights and CGI creatures as the young hero carries out his quest.
The premise of the film is based around Greek mythology. Zeus is the ruler of gods and the creator of man. His power is fed by the love and prayers of his creations. All he asks is their obedience to his will. Of course, mankind is hardly a peaceful race and the eventually reject the superiority or the gods and declare war on them all. It is during a battle between men and gods that young Perseus, played by Sam Worthington, loses his family. The sole human survivor of the battle, Perseus is brought to the kingdom of men just in time to hear Zeus’ brother Hades deliver a chilling threat. If humanity does not submit to the gods in ten days, he will unleash his Kraken monster to destroy the entire kingdom. That means Perseus and a small band of soldiers have only ten days to find a way to defeat the Kraken in battle and thus deal a decisive blow in the war against the gods.
The group must travel to a far off land in order to collect the one item that they can use as a weapon against the Kraken, and the journey is certainly exciting. Perseus and his comrades battle corrupted men and giant scorpions and even travel to Hell to fight the Medusa. The action and effects are excellent, but the film falls flat merely in terms of basic storytelling. Only a handful of men accompany Perseus. What are their names? You will just have to wait and read them in the end credits. The filmmakers also dangle interesting subplots in front of us that are never expanded upon. One soldier confides in Perseus gloomily that his daughter was dragged off to the afterlife by the gods on her sixteenth birthday. That sounds like a compelling story. I would have liked to hear more from him. It just is not to be, though. The film is on a tight schedule, and they need a dead Kraken by the two hour mark. It is always bothersome when it seems like a film is written to fit the effects, rather than the effects created to fit the story.
At least the effects in the film are well done. The Kraken is a spectacle to behold. It is a massive force of rage and destruction in the form of a terrifying giant beast. If there is any downside to the film visually it would have to be the 3D. I am not going to complain anymore about dull colors and blurry motion. That seems an unavoidable side-effect of wearing the 3D glasses. It is unfortunate, but I have grown accustomed to it in 3D films. The issue here is that the image actually does not pop enough. This is not a case of a subtle non-gimmicky utilization of the technology. It is because the film was not actually shot in 3D. The 3D effects were added after filming was complete, presumably as a quick cash in since Avatar has apparently made 3D a necessity for CGI driven adventure films. Two of the last three films Sam Worthington has starred in have been in 3D, and you can bet that if Terminator Salvation had come out this year instead of last he would have the hat trick. I wonder if he and his agent do this on purpose.
See the 2D version and you will find a film filled with excellent effects and little else. Nameless men, plus Perseus, battle CGI monsters for the fate of humanity. It is fun at times, but overall disappointing. Just a little more effort from the filmmakers to bring the characters to life could have made this a real fantasy epic instead of a throwaway action flick. They need to realize that if they do not care about their characters the audience won’t either.
By Gareth Mussen