Clash of the Titans a remake of a movie from 1981, which is in itself a retelling of classic greek mythology. There is merit in greek mythology, so many of the imagery and story devices that are used today are of greek origins. However, such a story merits a certain level of revamping, especially when it has been told so many times. Instead, CotT plays out almost as if one is simply reading from a book of stage directions.
The film features something of an all star cast with Mads Mikkelson, Liam Neeson, and Ralph Fiennes, all of whom, unfortunately are criminally underused. Mikkelson is a soldier; leader of the group of men that seek to destroy the kraken. He is nothing more unfortunately, and we are told nothing about him — were it not for the wonder of imdb, i would not even know his character’s name — despite his ample screen time. His character had a lot of potential to serve as Perseus’ earthly mentor. Instead, hes sort of just…there.
Neeson’s Zeus is another wasted opportunity. Not only is his bright shiny armor (very un-greek) distracting, but Neeson isn’t given anything to do the entire movie. The most involved he gets is coming to earth here and there and giving advice to Perseus, and in one instance, ressurecting his dead love interest…yeah, that was weird. The movie barely skims the surface of a fascinating relationship between gods and men. The gods have the power to destroy men, and yet are sustained by the worship of humanity. Director Louis Leterrier instead opts to skip this subject matter, and immediately plunge into some mediocre action scenes.
And they are mediocre. Its got to be tough being a director of a sword and sandals movie. Especially in 2010, only 4 short years after Zack Snyder’s 300, considered by many to be the definitive sword and sandals film, and also in many circles to be the definitive masculine action movie, a genre in which CotC sought to embed itself within. Most of the fights are shot (minus the blood) as though they were to be slowed down and stylized, but aren’t taken fully to that level, and as a result just fail to amaze. A few other sequences use a very close and rapid editing style, not dissimilar to that of a Bourne film. It works in Jason Bourne movies. You know where it doesn’t work? In movies that are supposed to be grandly fantastical and adventurous.
When this isn’t happening, there is a complete over-reliance on CGI. Granted, I’m sure it looked great in 2010, when the technology’s potential was still being realized; but the unfinished looking computer animations are far from enticing In an age where movie’s with nearly flawless CGI like Dr. Strange and Rogue One are hitting the box office. The final battle, in which a Kraken monster attacks a village, and Perseus must fend it off using the head of Medusa, is supposed to be epic, heart pounding, and climatic. The beast in question has been the unseen adversary for most of the movie, with the men spending their quest preparing to face it in combat. The effect is completely diminished however when the movie watcher cannot stop noticing how fake looking the object of Greece’s fears is.
Clash of the Titans was never going to be a heartfelt drama, full of depth and character growth, but it could have been more than the lukewarm “action movie” it is. With this in mind, I will continue to hold out hope. I’ll soon be watching Wrath of the titans; maybe the second time is the charm.