Clash of the Titans (April 2nd 2010)
Cards on the table early: Clash of the Titans is a bad film. It has very few redeeming features, and shows no aspirations toward being suspenseful, exciting or engaging.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s take a look at the plot. It’s very simple, as you may expect. Basically, demigod Perseus (Sam Worthington) and his band of merry men decide to go on a quest to deny the gods the satisfaction of wiping out the population of Argos – the town, not the store.
Perhaps it was planned this way, but the extremely simple, linear nature of the plot lends itself very well to the videogame format (coming soon, game fans). It essentially consists of Perseus going from place to place, fighting baddies and solving simple puzzles, aided somewhat by his fellow demigod and stalker Io (Gemma Arterton), and once by his beardy dad, Zeus (Liam Neeson).
There are parts of this movie that have a lot of potential. The sequence in Medusa’s grimy quarter of the underworld could have been full of The Descent-esque tension, but falls flat and instead feels like you are watching scenes from the cutting room floor of Beowulf, and maybe the giant scorpion fight in the desert would have been good if we hadn’t already seen it in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.
Speaking of ripping parts from other movies, how many times have we seen the diminuitive (relatively) hero flying through various flailing appendages and limbs of a giant monster? Oh yes, here we have a classic case of “let’s have the camera move around and look like it might get hit by whatever our CGI team can rustle up”. Seriously, do we need to see this kind of thing again? It was cool when James Cameron traversed us through a helicopter in Terminator 2: Judgement Day, but that was nineteen years ago now. Maybe Hollywood should come up with some fresh ideas.
And now to the less than stellar performances on show. Sam Worthington, an English-born actor educated in Australia, manages to deliver an accent that falls somewhere between the two, but with an American twang thrown in for good measure. When all the other actors on show have flawless English accents, it surely wouldn’t be expecting too much for him to do an English accent too. Or maybe for the casting team to find someone who could. Even without the bad accent, Worthington is not good. Too much of a meathead to play a sensitive hero, and too sensitive-looking to play a meathead, his character is extremely unconvincing. He shows no emotion other than stoic resolution which, let’s face it, even Arnie can pull off.
Aside from Worthington, two of the finest British actors of recent times do their best to tarnish their reputations. Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes have been in some of the great films of the last two decades, and have delivered stunning performances, but this is not a showcase for good acting, and it shows. Fiennes’ performance as Hades is so bad that it comes off as an amateur dramatics performer trying to be Wormtongue from Lord of the Rings, and Neeson seems to think that speaking all his lines in either a gruff whisper or an angry bark equates to having range. It doesn’t.
As for the redeeming features, there are two. The first is Pete Postelthwaite, playing Perseus’ human ‘father’ Spyros. Postelthwaite is a character actor of the highest calibre. He’s never been a leading man, but he always brightens up the screen whenever he’s around. It’s a small role that he has, but he does well with it, or as well as anyone can do with a role that requires being kindly and then dying. The second small piece of quality is the destruction of a statue of Zeus in during the set-up to the main plot. There are several attempts at conveying epic scale of the film, but this is the only one that really works. Most of the others consist solely of wide-angle shots of very small people walking in very huge places. Not impressive. Neither of these two features are worth seeing the film for, but if you’re really looking for an excuse to see it then these are your best bet.
If family-orientated action blockbusters are your bag, then it’s advisable to hold out for the latest Disney/Bruckheimer juggernaut The Prince of Persia. Not only does it come from people with a good track record, but it also stars Jake Gyllenhaal – one of the finest Hollywood actors working today. Clash of the Titans is not worth your hard-earned cash, or your invaluable time. If you want to waste a couple of hours, try staring at a blank piece of paper or lying face down on a bed of nails. It will probably be more entertaining.