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Movie Curiosities

The online diary of an aspiring movie nerd

Clash of the Titans

ByCuriosity Inc.

Apr 11, 2010

Note that I saw it in 2D because fuck the 3D conversion process.

Visually, this movie was very good. The fight scenes were a lot of fun and the creatures were all at least ten times more badass than the original Harryhausen creations. Perhaps the most notably improved was Calibos, who was a much more capable threat than the clumsy monstrosity whose full body couldn’t be seen without stop-motion. Also, his origin story in the original movie was basically “Oh yeah, here’s this douchebag I’ll turn into a monster. There, it’s done. Let’s move on.” Here, his origin story is still kind of ridiculous, but at least it ties in to Perseus and his arc almost makes sense when compared to the more ancient source material *In the original myth, Acrisius was driven from the city for unknown reasons and was eventually killed by Perseus*.

As for the bad parts… Sheesh.

First of all, this movie is very focused on the conflict between gods and mortals. If the topic were relegated to subtext, I would appreciate and respect it. Instead, the subject is repeatedly mentioned with the subtlety of a bulldozer through the entire movie, particularly during the first act. Perseus’ stepfather (poor Pete Postlethwaite) discusses the subject with literally every sentence he has onscreen.

The broad and annoying delivery of this theme affects the entire movie, but it mostly brings down Perseus. As a demigod, Perseus is brought into frequent contact with the gods vs. man conflict, to the point where it defines his character. He’s not a leader, he’s not a lover, he’s just a demigod and he’s only ever addressed as such. This is why I’m not holding Sam Worthington accountable for his performance here. It’s very hard to show any emotional range when all of the other characters address an actor in exactly the same way. If Sam Worthington is ever going to prove himself as a leading man, then he’d better get another agent quickly. Preferably one who can read a fucking script.

Another casualty of the script is Andromeda. The filmmakers clearly could not have given two shits about Andromeda, and it’s her neck on the line! If she had gone on the journey with Perseus (as she did in the original movie), it would have wonderfully established the stakes and provided motivation for Perseus and the royal guard to slay the Kraken. Instead, she’s absent for 95% of the movie. That was supremely stupid. To be fair, the movie did at least have the sense not to try and sell us a romance between Perseus and Andromeda. They had so little time together that a last-minute romance would have been idiotic. But on the other hand, their romance was such an integral part of the last movie and of the original myth that to leave it out just seems wrong. Instead, we get a Perseus/Io romance. This makes more sense in the context of the movie, but it still left me unsatisfied as it’s completely without precedent in any of the source material and I fucking hated Io.

I’ll get into why in a moment, but first a few side notes: The movie was very meticulous in delegating screen time to Perseus’ fellows-in-arms. We saw them enough so they were more than just redshirts, but not so much that they took the spotlight from Perseus. Very well done. Also, I noticed that Polly Walker made a brief appearance as Andromeda’s mother, Cassiopeia. After seeing eight episodes and a backdoor pilot of her fantastic work as Sister Clarice Willow, I was greatly pained by seeing how utterly wasted she was in this movie. But back to Io.

Like Perseus and Andromeda, Io’s awfulness has nothing to do with her actress and everything to do with the script. Firstly, she was an exposition machine and a deus ex machina who conveniently teleported to exactly where and when she was needed and disappeared into thin air when she no longer was. It’s like she’s lazy screenwriting incarnate. Secondly, if Perseus was going to get godly help, it really should have been from either Hermes or Athena.

Hermes played a key role in the Perseus myth and he doesn’t get nearly enough credit, considering that he appears more frequently in Greek mythology than any other god. Athena also assisted Perseus, as well as Bellerophon, Telemachus and Odysseus, and she was a major force in the Trojan War. Io was one of Zeus’ many illegitimate lovers, before Zeus turned her into a cow to hide his transgression. Hera found out about it anyway and sent a gadfly to torture her for several years before she was finally turned back into a human and birthed an ascendant of Heracles. What the hell was Io doing in this movie?!

And this brings me to another major gripe about this movie: The many, many misuses of Greek mythology. I scarcely know where to begin with this one. I mean, I thought that Hades’ plot against Zeus was very clever and I thought that Neeson and Fiennes both did fine jobs in their respective roles, but the plot is still horrid because it centers around the Kraken. Leaving aside that the Kraken is a Norse monster with no place in Greek mythology, it seems obvious that the Kraken is a sea monster and thus should be under Poseidon’s control. So why does Hades have it and why would Poseidon be powerless to stop it?

That’s another thing: Where were the rest of the Greek gods?! If this “man vs. god” conflict was really so serious, why the fuck didn’t the rest of the pantheon get involved?! They didn’t even have to be on the same side; in the Trojan War, the gods were split between the two sides and furthered their favorite armies by manipulating the mortals. We see early on that the gods are divided on how to handle this issue, so why didn’t they act personally? Just imagine if Hades had stolen control of the Kraken from Poseidon, after allying with him to bring their brother down. What if Hermes and Athena had learned of this plot and went to stop them by lending aid to Perseus? Why didn’t the proud Aphrodite take revenge personally when Cassiopeia slandered her? Why didn’t Hephaestus send a volcano or a wildfire to damage Argo? Where was Hera to advise Zeus, to sway him toward her ends or to punish Perseus for being her illegitimate stepson (she did that to Heracles all the time)? The list of missed possibilities just goes on and on.

The bottom line is that given the amount of talent and effort that went into this movie, it should have been far, far better than it was. For everything this movie does right, it either does five things wrong or misses five opportunities. To that end, as much fun as the action scenes were, I can only call this movie a failure.

By Curiosity Inc.

I hold a B.S. in Bioinformatics, the only one from Pacific University's Class of '09. I was the stage-hand-in-chief of my high school drama department and I'm a bass drummer for the Last Regiment of Syncopated Drummers. I dabble in video games and I'm still pretty good at DDR. My primary hobby is going online for upcoming movie news. I am a movie buff, a movie nerd, whatever you want to call it. Comic books are another hobby, but I'm not talking about Superman or Spider-Man or those books that number in the triple-digits. I'm talking about Watchmen, Preacher, Sandman, etc. Self-contained, dramatic, intellectual stories that couldn't be accomplished in any other medium. I'm a proud son of Oregon, born and raised here. I've been just about everywhere in North and Central America and I love it right here.

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