April 1, 2010

slice Clash of the Titans movie image.jpg

Director Louis Leterrier’s remake of the campy 1981 film Clash of the Titans pays homage to its predecessor in that you have to mock both films in order to keep them interesting.  Even if you can somehow get past the forgettable characters, the dull action sequences, and the sloppy pacing, you still have to confront a central conflict that makes absolutely no sense.  And may the gods help you if you pay to see it in 3D.  By the end of Clash of the Titans you’ll be begging for the simple charm of Ray Harryhausen’s stop-motion creatures and Harry Hamlin’s dumbfounded facial expression.

clash_of_the_titans_sam_worthington_group_01.jpgThe people of Argos have chosen to invent hubris (which is actually a Greek word) and the gods of Olympus are less than pleased at this decision, particularly Zeus (Liam Neeson) who needs the love of mankind in order to fuel his mojo.  Convinced by Hades (Ralph Fiennes) that Argos needs to be put in its place, Zeus decides to release the Kraken on the city in ten days unless they sacrifice their princess Andromeda (Alexa Davalos) to the titan.  And really, what city wouldn’t love a god after he’s killed their princess and destroyed their home?

Enter Perseus (Sam Worthington), a demigod who doesn’t know he’s a demigod until his family is collateral damage in Hades’ attack on some snotty Argarians.  Seeking vengeance on Hades, Perseus agrees to save Argos from the Kraken because killing the Kraken will hurt Hades and holy hell it’s already stupid.  Zeus controls the Kraken, but the Kraken belongs to Hades and creates the fear that fuels Hades’ mojo, but for some unexplained reason Zeus doesn’t know this.  That’s good because Hades wants revenge on Zeus for tricking him into ruling the underworld.  Again, Zeus doesn’t realize that maybe, maybe his brother would want vengeance for getting fooled into taking the job of King Shit of Fuck Mountain.  To conclude: Zeus is really stupid.

Clash of the Titans movie image Sam WorthingtonBut here’s where the movie fails completely on a storytelling level: Perseus sets out to defeat the Kraken (begrudgingly, as are almost all of his actions in the film-he’s not reluctant, but selfishly stubborn).  Perseus is the son of Zeus, so Zeus wants to protect Perseus.  He gives Perseus a badass sword and little tips to protect Perseus whose quest is to stop Zeus from destroying Argos.  This all begs the question: if Zeus wants to protect Perseus, why doesn’t he just call off the Kraken?  It’s a lose-lose situation for Zeus.  Oh, that’s right.  Zeus is really, really, stupid.  To make matters more confusing, Hades makes a henchman in Calibos (Jason Flemyng) even though Hades has already demonstrated he can just take out guys on his own.

Leaping across this huge logic gap, Perseus is joined by a small band of Argarian soldiers led by their captain Draco (Mads Mikkelsen).  The film is so eager to cut to the big action scenes that it doesn’t take the time to introduce these supporting characters we’re supposed to root for.  Their names are quickly mumbled and we’re forced to distinguish them as old, sarcastic soldier (Liam Cunningham), wide-eyed neophyte soldier (Nicholas Hoult), and Orlando Bloom-looking soldier (Hans Matheson).  They’re joined by wooden Djinn guy (Ian Whyte), two thrill-seeking hunters, and the immortal and smokin-hot Io (Gemma Arterton).

Let’s take a moment for her because Io is a good example of the film’s incoherent characterization and storytelling. Arteron gives a fine performance but it appears that her character has been hastily chopped into the film to add diversity to the group and have an emotionally ambivalent relationship to Perseus.  Io is cursed to never age but chooses to serve as a protector for Perseus since his birth (for a reason that’s never explained) and joins the fellowship…except you almost never see her in the same shot with the rest of the group.  Her character also seems to have a platonic relationship with Perseus until they’re suddenly on top of each other while training to fight Medusa (training that would benefit the whole group, but only Perseus gets) and he’s being told to “Calm his storm.”  So Io is no longer an equal of Perseus, but instead she’s the ultimate cougar.

That line, “Calm your storm,” is idiomatic of the whole film in that there’s an earnestness that is respectable until it becomes overbearing.  I don’t mind that Clash of the Titans plays it straight , but when faced with a choice about whether to show restraint or go bigger, Leterrier always choose the latter.  For all the elaborate sets and cool costumes (although the hair and make-up is atrocious), good direction is about choices and, “When is doubt, go bigger,” sets decision-making to automatic.  When you take this approach you get, for example, a zealot of Hades in Argos who makes the audience uncomfortable in how horny he is to sacrifice Andromeda.  Even funnier, everyone in Argos has no problem making insane, dirty, naked, scraggly guy their leader.

clash_of_the_titans_sam_worthington_01.jpgFinally, there’s the 3D.  I cannot stress enough that if you choose to see this film (and you really shouldn’t), do not pay to see it in 3D.  It is a scam.  Taking off my glasses at various points in the film, I could see that there was hardly any separation (the less convergence there is, the less they’re bring elements forward to create the illusion of depth) so that it just looked like a blurry projection.  When the film does try to make a move for 3D, it looks awful.  Trees bubble, characters look like cut-outs, and the CGI looks cheap.  One of the more bizarre examples is when Hades’ brow juts forward while the rest of his head remains in place.  Warner Bros. chose to up-convert the film at the last minute and it shows.

There’s not much to say about Clash of the Titans that’s positive.  If it hadn’t scrambled its plot so badly, there could be an interesting idea about the conflict between faith in supreme beings (who in this case are physically present and identifiable) and the desire of man to forge his own destiny and break free of the whims of petty gods.  The production value is impressive and the decision to use practical sets pays off well.  Arterton gives a good performance and Fiennes provides an interesting, if not entirely successful, take on his character.  But these minor victories can’t overcome Clash‘s torrent of defeat.  The result is a wannabe epic that rushes to its underwhelming set pieces but can’t be bothered with little things like “story” and “characters” and “coherence.”

Rating: D

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  • mike

    Good review. Not very surprising but I was hoping it would at least be moderately watchable. But I struggle through movies with terrible stories, shitty dialouge and poorly drawn characters. For me to watch that sort of movie it has to be as pretty as Avatar.

  • analogkid5150

    Ummm…wow. Apparently, someone who's writing about a film has more emotion involved than actual information regarding the original movie and greek mythology. As discribed in all stories of Greek Mythology, the gods were not all knowking, all powerful, they had faults. Things were hidden from each other all the time, it's called drama. The Greeks were master storytellers and masters of implimenting drama. Also, the whole Zues protecting his son while still going forward with the destruction of Argos is typical Greek mythology of a god wanting to test man to see if heroes are born or if they are made. Hasn't ANYONE writing up these things even looked at Playstation's God of War games? Apparently, someone blasting such a film like this is completly lacking in imagination as well as a basic understanding of 2 things: 1) Some greek mythology and 2) most people who go to movies these days don't really care about the mundane details you just posted here. I'm sure your griping about this movie is about as long as the movie actually runs. I mean look at the length of this damned thing! All I hear is whining and nothing of importance of what the movie conveys. A critic's job is to give a balanced opinion of a film. A critic's job is to show all the good points as well as any bad. Here, sir, all I see is a baby crying for his pacifier. How did you get this job again? My kids could have done a better job with crayons.

  • jacksoncresswell

    So wait. You praise the “God of War” games, then denounce the review for not having a basic understanding of Greek mythology?
    Then you go on to say that people don't care about “mundane details” like major plot holes and poor character development, which Matt pointed out.
    And then you complain about A) the length of the review, and B) that it was mostly negative (an opinion, which again, is backed up with clear cut examples).

    I gotta be honest here. I don't think you know what a review is.

  • Jonathan

    Although I agree with you analogkid5150 on your argument that a critics job is to give a balanced opinion of a film and its quite clear that Matt Goldberg lacks that quality, I have to still have to agree with Matts bottom-line opinion about the film – its all action ( and not in the right way), no story, and no other qualities to redeem these shortfalls. There are times when lack of character development and/or a solid plot are acceptable, and thats when a film offers the “something else” factor. Avatar, Planet Terror, and the upcoming The Expendables offer something else to redeem the film: The Expendables – throwback to 80's action films that we LOVE – predator, comando, double impact, rocky, die hard (yes its early 90's I know) who have been replaced by the Matt Damons, James McAvoy, and Shia Labeufs; Planet Terror – homage to 80's Horror and truly unexepected scenes (boy in car w/gun); and Avatar – the most advanced 3D filming ever.
    Clash of the Titans couldnt do the whole “throw-back” factor correctly, it didnt have any 'wow' factor like avatar, and it didnt even focus on story. So whats left? Liam Neelson with a terrible wig.

  • analogkid5150

    Ugh, i wasn't praising anything. I was merely pointing out that the theme Matt Goldberg is ranting about is also in games like God of War, it's pretty much the theme in the original Clash of the Titans, and pretty much in most of Greek Mythology. Matt sems to give the impression that he had high high and high hopes for this remake and apparently was slightly disappointed and decided to rip the script, the effects, the acting, everything as a whole like a kid throwing a fit. There's NOTHING constructive about his review at all, which in turns, makes me want to see it even more to find out what he's whining about. I'm literally surprised he didn't drop any F bombs.

    And excuse me for pointing out an actual fact regarding most movie goers don't pay attention to such insignificant details. How much money did all those remakes and TV shows turn to movies make these last few years? More than I made in the last few years. It's a REMAKE. What part of that don't you guys get? A REMAKE. It's not even an original idea. It's a retelling of the 1981 film with better effects and more action. I'm sure Burgess Meredith would be rolling his eyes at this remake if he were still alive.

    I just don't get what the whining's all about regarding a remake. It's like he was expecting a classic in the making and found out it was a remake and his review was the equivalent of packing up his toys and going home.

    I know what a review is. A review is supposed to show as much of as many sides of the film as a whole so that those planning on seeing it will have a general idea of what to expect without giving too much away. It's not supposed to say things like “Don't waste your time or money” or “wait til the DVD”, or “God Almighty, I want my 2 hours back”. THOSE are personal opinions and are usually proven wrong in the box office time and time again. The critics hated Titanic and Gone With the Wind when both films were intially released and look. Both of them are in the top 10 films of all time. I have learned that 99% of the time when critics blast a movie, it's going to be great and when the praise a film, it usually sucks. I'm sick of critics whining about films. Review the damned film, stop boohooing over what you feel is lost money or time or how you REALLY wanted to see introductions to SUPPORTING CAST. For crying out loud, really? He thought the intros were too bleeding short? Give me a break.

  • analogkid5150

    I'm not looking to start WWIII in here, but I feel I must reply and hopefully what I say will make sense. It's alot easier to verbally communicate a ton of detail rather than typing it out.

    It's a remake of Clash of the Titans. That of itself should be sufficiant in most cases that it's going to be an action film. Perhaps it lacks development. I get that, but say that, don't go into a diatribe about how the intros were too short for your taste, or how you'd prefer the credits to roll a certain way so you could have seen the clouds in the background better (I know he didn't say that at all, but I was trying to make a point regarding some of Matt's whining). Most people going to see this film have already seen the first one, so they know what the hell's going on. So Matt wants more substance in a remake? Matt seems to think that a remake should have an inflated budget so us we little people can be sppon fed everything from the original so he can feel he got his money's worth? Give me a break.

    I get the whole opinion thing. Reviews are supposed to be as opinion free as much as possible, not a crusade to keep the whole world from watching this film based on his opinions, such as “It’s a lose-lose situation for Zeus. Oh, that’s right. Zeus is really, really, stupid” or “Zeus doesn’t realize that maybe, maybe his brother would want vengeance for getting fooled into taking the job of King Shit of Fuck Mountain” or “And may the gods help you if you pay to see it in 3D”.

    I just think he's whining too damned much and didn't approach the review in a more professional way.

  • MrRich316

    I counted one “f bomb”. I'm going to go out on a limb and say this will take L.L. out of the running for the avengers job.

  • Jessica

    Wow analogkid. A whiny review on a whiny review. How….. illustrative.

  • Bryce

    Walking into the screening, I could not have been more excited about this film and when I walked out, I could not have been more disappointed. I completely agree w/ the review!

  • saadGkhan

    That's the Funniest revie ever… hahahahahahha Zeuz is really stupid. :-D
    ahahahhaaha Nice man !

  • histeachn

    Hmm, not exactly. The points analogkid is making are a fair bit more constructive than the original review. I agree with him/her about Goldberg's review, but largely because Goldberg's criticisms all read about the same. Namely, he tends to say roughly the same thing about movies in roughly the same way. Analogkid's comments are already far more lucid.

  • junierizzle

    Overall I've heard it sucks. And the same guy wants to direct THE AVENGERS. I hope the GODS don't let that happen.

  • Jessica

    Hmm… another opinion on an opinion….. Because both “reviews” (Matt's and analog) are both subjective to the reader, I'm not sure I would call analogs comments more lucid than Matt's or anyone else on this site, or comment board. That would mean you give more gravity to analog's comments: “that 99% of the time when critics blast a movie, it's going to be great and when they praise a film, it usually sucks” than say this line from Matt's review: “That line is idiomatic of the whole film in that there’s an earnestness that is respectable until it becomes overbearing.”

    *shrug* To each his own….

  • angryinternet

    Analog, let's break this down:

    “Reviews are supposed to be as opinion free as much as possible.”

    - The Oxford English Dictionary (of which you are clearly a fan of, what with your incorrect English curses (see: “bleeding”)) defines a review as “a critical appraisal of a book, play, movie, exhibition, etc., published in a newspaper or magazine.” Matt's review, at the very least, was a “critical appraisal.” If you want a review that is free of opinion as much as possible, read the film's synopsis.

    “The critics hated Titanic and Gone With the Wind when both films were in[i]tially released and look. Both of them are in the top 10 films of all time.”

    - According to whom? At least Matt gives concrete examples (or the source) of what he disliked.

    “I have learned that 99% of the time when critics blast a movie, it's going to be great and when the praise a film, it usually sucks.”

    - So by that logic, there's a very high likelihood that you think Kangaroo Jack and Alvin and the Chimpunks are film masterpieces.

    AnalogKid, you can't very well criticize this review when your own criticisms are as weak as you perceive Matt's to be.

  • John Winchester

    i totally agree with everything stated here, just been to see the film and thought i had been robbed. the film is a huge let down considering the possibilities it had. I thought every fight has too easy for perseus, a main insult to me personally as how can any guy even a demi god kill medusa, the kraken and beat hades in a single shot do all this with barely a scratch to him, in fact the only time he gets hurt on any serious level is against calibos who is much lower in power/strength etc than the 3 mentioned earlier

    again, for me this movie was a serious let down, bring on toy story 3

  • histeachn

    Trying to deconstruct things can go on into infinity, and I'm not a fan of it to boot. Like I had said, the responses analog gave to the points Goldberg had were more constructive. I say/said that because they addressed the concerns of the review with solid ground–namely, connecting the problems Goldberg had with the movie that were by and large staying true to Greek mythology. That's the thread connecting the two.

    I won't say everyone's entitled to any opinion, but a well-informed opinion. In this case, I took analog's comments to be more insightful about the movie than the actual review. You could call that an opinion, but, if it's founded on facts, it carries more substance and transcends just “being an opinion.” The fan of Rush becomes more compelling than the one who wrote the review. Make sense?

  • Jessica

    Trying to deconstuct comments on comments on reviews in any format is something only especially talented people can do. So if you consider yourself espcecially talented, by all means carry on. I especially like the part where you say no one is entitled to an opinion unless you consider said opinions well informed. How entitled of you.

  • Ripsnorter

    Having seen CRUD OF THE TITANS I'd say Matt Goldberg nails the film precisely: it really is that bad. I went in wanting to like it and came out having been bored at best and bitterly disappointed at worst. As for the general debate about critics offering balanced opinions, well, in this case he does: there is a little to like and a great deal to come down on from a very great height. In any case, reviews are always subjective, you either like the reviewer's general take on films and opinions in general or you don't, and I have the impression some posters have reviewed the review without first having watched its subject.

    • Devhy

      Epic poster for an epic film! The look for the hatrccaer of Solid Snake in the Metal Gear Solid games I believe.Shame about the sequel Escape to LA’ though can never get that awful surfing scene out of my head.

  • James

    I do agree with the review. Big disappointment. And yes, like Romeo and Juliet, the myth says “Perseus” and “Andromeda”, not Io just because the actress is more popular.

  • MarieJB

    Basically, you have told the truth, even if I don't want to hear it. Not being around when the effects in the first one when considered ground-breaking, I find it hard to be loyal to what was clearly a better-written film. In this one the plot-holes were huge and the lines like “don't look the bitch in the eye” ( about Medusa, wearing a bra??) made it worse.

    It was a pity the supporting cast such as the Djinn and the soldiers got such a short straw, it would have been interesting to see how they would have treated Perceus, considering who he was and their deaths were hardly moving, despite some excellent acting.

    Well, that was my opinion, I was swept along with the effects and magic of it, I even bore the pervy cameramans obssesion with Sam Worthingtons legs.

  • fabian

    i need this movie.

  • fabian

    i need this movie.

  • TRUU

    now this was a good review I have to say, there are a lot of people out there talking shit about this movie and complaning without any good arguments, but you really explained your thoughts very well, and didn't look only at the negativ side. I agree with what you said about Io's character, she was sort of just thrown in the movie. A lot of mysteries there to be developed, but still I loved her character and her love realtionship with Perseus!! I thought the other characters died too fast also, (Draco & company) BUT overall I thought it was a very enjoyable movie, and look forward to see the sequel!!!