Quint gazes into the eyes of CLASH OF THE TITANS and turns to stone!
Published at: March 31, 2010, 5:33 p.m. CST by quint
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here. Upfront you need to know that I was rooting for this movie to work. There’s going to be a lot of vitriol aimed at it from critics because it’s, frankly, not a good film and the stuff that it should be able to show off (the millions of dollars worth of digital creature effects and world building) are marred by the single worst 3-D conversion of recent memory. Oh, and it’s a remake of a film that most bloggers have fond childhood memories of.
But I want to make it clear that I was pulling for this film. When Louis Leterrier was brought on board I thought that was a pretty inspired choice. He’s an up and comer that did a damn good job making the Hulk a thing of real danger in THE INCREDIBLE HULK. There was an awe to the monster in that movie, a real gravitas to a real character, which gave me hope that Louis would know exactly how to handle the monsters of Greek myth.
And if all you want is a big budget flick that touches on Greek Mythology then you might get your $10 worth out of the ticket, but even there the film is lacking.
I’d guess maybe 5% of the movie is focused on the Gods another 15% on creatures and fights, which means you’re left with 80% of the movie just Sam Worthington on yet another reluctant hero journey. His character, son of Zeus, has a vendetta against the Gods and refuses to accept his father’s help in his quest to destroy Hades. You know this because there’s at least a dozen scenes devoted to him screaming that he’s a man, not a God! “I’m gonna do this as a man!” “I’m not gonna be like them!” Over and over and over again.
The film is lousy with repetition. Either the editor was lazy or they thought the audience was really, really stupid because they leave nothing to chance when it comes to information the audience should have. If it’s a plot point it’s guaranteed to be talked about at least 2 or 3 times.
The real disappointment for me is just how minimalized the Gods are. You have people like Liam Neeson (Zeus), Ralph Fiennes (Hades) and Danny Huston (Poseidon) in these roles and they’re throw-away characters? For the Gods’ sake, Danny Huston has one fucking line! Really?
Missed opportunities infuriate me and this movie is a giant missed opportunity. Olympus looks great! There are great details that are never anything but background dressing… like the “board” that is the floor of Zeus’ hall is this amazing topographical representation of Earth. But we never even see it in anything but wide shots!
Since we don’t spend any time with the Gods we never get the impression of them as anything beyond the broad stereotype. Hades is deceptive and hateful, Zeus is apparently bi-polar (one moment he says humans can go fuck themselves and then the next time we see him he’s sending them help, with no idea why he’s meddling), Poseidon is a bearded dude that thinks Zeus should listen to Hades (I’m not kidding when I say that’s his one line) and Apollo is a nervous dude.
That’s about the extent to character development with the Gods, a wealth of fascinating material just left by the wayside so we can have an hour with Sam Worthington learning to be a badass.
And this is coming from someone who isn’t a Sam Worthington hater. That dude has a great role in him somewhere, but so far he’s always come across as a neutral force. He doesn’t detract from a picture, but he doesn’t add anything either. AVATAR was the closest he’s come to being dynamic on-screen. I’m starting to worry it isn’t the poor writing of flicks like Terminator: Salvation that made him kind of weak sauce in that movie.
Gemma Arterton plays Io, or Ms. Exposition as I’d like to call her, a woman cursed with agelessness who has been watching Perseus since he was discovered in a floating coffin by a fisherman (Pete Postlethwaite). I love Postlethwaite and he’s really good in this movie, as he is in everything… he just has a bad habit of picking shitty movies to be great in. Arterton is beautiful, of course, but isn’t done any favors with being shoe-horned in as a love interest.
They shift Andromeda over to being a hot Mother Teresa type figure (played by Alexa Davalos) instead of Perseus’ honey, which doesn’t make much sense since now all Perseus’ motivation to stop her sacrifice to the Kraken is to piss off the Gods. Well, and to kill Hades… apparently since Hades made the Kraken from his own flesh if the Kraken is destroyed Hades is vulnerable to a demi-god.
The change in character might not be a big deal to most, but I personally didn’t like the brooding asshole version of Persues. I much preferred the romantic hero version.
If there’s one guy who leaves this movie unscathed it’s Liam Cunningham who plays the cranky, old soldier in Perseus’ group. He brings some much needed charm and lightness to the movie, but like most everything else that isn’t Sam Worthington or a giant scorpion he’s glossed over. So is Mads Mikkelsen who is the great warrior/leader of the outfit that escorts Perseus on his mission.
Again there are a lot of broad strokes, with no finesse. There’s the kid who still prays to the Gods even though the rest of Argos has rebelled against them. That’s about it to that character. Mads is the hardass who slowly starts to believe in Perseus, Cunningham is cranky… and then there are the hunter brothers who apparently know everything there is to know about defeating creatures, but then they never actually use this knowledge since they’re bumbling idiots that feel like they came out of THE MUMMY RETURNS.
I won’t comment on the CG since I feel that fake and rushed post-process 3-D doesn’t represent what they actually delivered, but I can say that since they’re selling this a 3-D movie (remember this is the one where the ads are “2D in select theaters”) that what ends up on the screen is laughable at times. Medusa has lots of moving parts, but looks like something out of a PS3 cut-scene and Hades’ harpies are nothing but dark blurs whenever they’re onscreen.
The 3-D is so bad there are shots where an actors’ hair is pushing out of his or her head or where a face looks distorted, like someone was screwing with an anamorphic lens.
It’s quite clear Leterrier didn’t shoot with 3-D in mind as so much of the movie is a quickly moving camera, which just causes blurs when you try 3-Dize the shot. It’s an ugly, ugly, ugly 3-D picture.
All in all, the film isn’t horrendous, but just so middle of the road. That’s the big insult. It’s pedestrian when dealing with material as rich and fascinating as Greek Mythology. The original might be a bit dated, it might suffer from having Harry Hamlin as the lead, but goddamnit it has personality and it feels epic. And it’s iconic. The creatures have personality, even Bubo… who does have a cameo, by the way… but it’s the kind of cameo that’s kind of “Fuck you if you like Bubo” thing. “Hey, recognize this? Yeah, the mechanical owl is stupid, right?” That’s the feeling I got from the cameo.
This movie makes me hungry to see a real deal hardcore Greek mythology movie. I’d love it if someone took a God of War approach to this kind of story. It might even be a direct adaptation of God of War for all I know, but whatever it is I just want it to have some damn personality!
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