Friday, May 07, 2010

Clash of the Titans

Just after I had seen Clash of the Titans, a friend texted me, "What did you think? My answer: "It's pretty bad when you find yourself rooting for Medusa."

I saw the original Clash of the Titans of 1981 several times, but then, I was always drawn to Ray Harryhausen's stop-motion special effects work. I remember being riveted to the screen when Medusa and her snarly snakes went looking to kill all the Greeks she could find. And the Calibos monster, half-man, half-something else, was the scariest to me.

This Clash has a slightly different story line. Rather than having Perseus (the rather stiff Harry Hamlin) pass several tasks, like taming a flying horse (Pegasus), Perseus in the modern version is Sam Worthington (from Avatar), who is seeking revenge on Hades, the God of the underworld, for destroying his family. He picks up several Greeks along the way to help him in the task. As it turns out, Worthington's Perseus has no charisma at all, and is only slightly less wooden than Hamlin's character, but his supporting cast of Greeks are far more watchable and make this version almost bearable. Almost.

As it is, however, Clash of the Titans is an excuse to get a bunch of Greek Gods up there on the screen, because they look all shiny and neat, and to employ special effects. Some of this doesn't make any sense at all -- for instance, we see only quick glimpses of the rest of the gods, Liam Neeson looks more Irish than Greek but he does look shiny, and Ralph Fiennes, although imperious as Hades, seems to pronounce words differently than his fellow gods (like "Kraken").

And Sam Worthington's butch haircut doesn't remind you of any Greek you've ever met, ancient or not. He certainly doesn't look like the young 20's man he's supposed to represent.

Many of the special effects creatures offered here are poor comparisons to Harryhausen's. They seem to lack heart. The only exceptions are Medusa, who is exquisitely evil, and depicted almost with pity, and, briefly, the Kraken, at the end.

This Clash could've been so much more. Skip it.

Thumb's down.


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