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The Clash of the Titans (2010)

Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures


Reviewed by Melissa Minners

 

            Iíve always been fascinated with the mythologies of the world.  I have studied the myths and folklore of quite a few civilizations, including Greeks, Romans, Christians, Jews, Africans, Norse, Asians, Native Americans and more.  Some of my favorite mythological tales come from the Greeks.  Iíve been reading Greek mythology since junior high school and have thoroughly enjoyed the tales of the titans, gods and humans, villains and heroes.  Iíve read numerous books on Greek mythology and am the proud owner of Bulfinchís Mythology, a huge tome with references to numerous characters, places and tales taking place in different civilizationsí mythologies.  The story of Perseus is one of epic adventure and one that no movie could ever truly do justice.  Clash of the Titans tried in 1981 with Harry Hamlin in the role of Perseus and now, a 3-D remake of the movie starring Sam Worthington is trying again on a grander scale.

            Clash of the Titans is the story of Perseus, son of the Greek god Zeus and the human DanaŽ.  He is known for his heroic adventures in which he encounters the Graeae Sisters (three witches with one eye and one tooth to share between them, but magnificent foretelling powers), the Hesperides (nymphs who tended to Zeusí wife Heraís orchards), Medusa (a woman with snakes for hair and a look that will turn you to stone), Pegasus, Poseidon, Andromeda and more.  He eventually becomes a fair and benevolent king.

            The 1981 movie starring Harry Hamlin was cheesy to be sure.  At the time, the graphics were state of the art and the action intriguing, but everything has to be bigger and better these days.  So, in 2010, Warner Bros. Pictures, with Louis Leterrier at the directorís helm, decided to create a newer, better version of Clash of the Titans with 3-D effects.  When the movie promos hit the theaters, I remember the word, ďAwesome!Ē coming out of my mouth and couldnít wait to see the film.

            The new version of Clash of the Titans stars Sam Worthington as Perseus, son of Zeus (Liam Neeson) and DanaŽ (Tine Stapelfeldt), whose husband Acrisius (Jason Flemyng) has rebelled against the gods for years.  Furious that his wife could be fooled into believing Zeus was her husband, and disgusted at the child their union created, Acrisius ordered the mother and child to be placed in a box and sent into the sea.  Only the child survived, rescued by Spyros (Pete Postlethwaite), a kind fisherman.  Perseus lives with Spyros and his family, learning the ways of a fisherman and calling Spyros his father until one day, the family comes upon warriors from Argos.  These warriors are desecrating the statue of Zeus and, as punishment, Hades (Ralph Fiennes), god of the Underworld, destroys them.  Unfortunately, he also destroys Perseusí family, sinking their fishing boat.  Again, only Perseus survives leaving him distraught and seeking revenge against the gods.

            Meanwhile, on Mount Olympus, Zeus and his fellow gods are worried.  The humans were created to worship the gods, their love and respect for their creators in turn feeding the gods.  However, with humans revolting against the gods at every turn, many believe it is time to rid the Earth of humans and start over.  Hades convinces Zeus to release the Kraken, a sea monster bent on destruction.  He offers the people of Argos one chance - if they sacrifice their Kingís daughter, Andromeda (Alexa Davalos), to the gods, Argos will be spared, but if they refuse, the Kraken will be sent to destroy Argos and all of its inhabitants.

            After the reception he has received in Argos, Perseus is loathe to aide the King, but a chance meeting with a woman named Io (Gemma Arterton) changes his mind.  The mysterious Io seems to know all about Perseus and his destiny.  Ioís persuasiveness, coupled with his need for revenge for what happened to his family, spurs Perseus forth on this dangerous journey.  He is accompanied by the best of Argosí soldiers and a pair of Persian monster hunters.  Despite the protection of weapons and experienced soldiers, Perseus still faces overwhelming odds.  Can Perseus and his men find a way to stop the Kraken and defeat the gods before Argos can be destroyed?

            When I missed this Clash of the Titans (2010) in the theaters, I was upset for a number of reasons: I loved mythology, the promos I had seen promised incredible action and I believed that Liam Neeson would make a terrific Zeus and Sam Worthington a credible Perseus.  Now that I have seen the film on DVD, I can honestly say that Liam Neeson did make a wonderful Zeus, exuding authority, offering up some playfulness and expressing sorrow and anger at the follies of man.  This was a Zeus I could believe in.  Sam Worthington is a great action hero and has proven himself quite capable in this genre in films as Terminator: Salvation and Avatar.  He indeed does make a credible, if somewhat angry Perseus.

            The action in this film is adrenaline-pumping and eye-popping at times.  I believe that the action scenes in the film were designed around the 3-D effects rather than in spite of them.  The 3-D was not used to enhance the story, but rather the story was used to enhance what could be done with the 3-D.  In short, we have loads of large scorpions who can flash their tails out at the audience while swiping their claws at them as well.  We have snakes on Medusaís head that lash out at you and arrows that narrowly miss your head.  All is designed to get a wow out of the audience as they duck and dodge the 3-D effects.

            Yet, Clash of the Titans is missing something.  HmmmÖwhat could it be?  Ah yes!  The director either has no clue about the story of Perseus or decided to ignore the tale entirely!  This film ignores the ancient and time-honored myth of Perseus and completely rewrites the story.  Since when are Perseusí parents killed by Hades?  Since when does Perseus find fault with the gods?  When did Andromeda become the daughter of the King and Queen of Argos?  What the hell is Io doing in this story?  As the mythology goes, she never even met Perseus.  In fact, Io was turned into a bovine after spurning Zeusí affections, chased by a gadfly to the ends of the Earth until the gods finally took pity on her. And since when did the Kraken belong to Hades?! Everyone who knows Greek mythology knows that the Kraken was one of Poseidonís creatures!

            A word to the director and screenplay writer of Clash of the Titans: when you remake a movie, you usually take the story and enhance it by adding better effects and more pleasing cinematics.  You donít generally ignore or totally rewrite the story upon which it is based!

            I was once upset to have missed Clash of the Titans (2010) in the theater.  I am now upset that I even rented the film.  Action fans will like the fight scenes, but true mythology fans like myself will resent the fact that this film was ever made.  What an utter disappointment!

 

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