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Futile Clash Leaves Titanic Sense of Disappointment

  • Christian Hamaker Contributing Writer
  • 2010 2 Apr
Futile <i>Clash</i> Leaves Titanic Sense of Disappointment

DVD Release Date:  July 27, 2010
Theatrical Release Date:  April 2, 2010
Rating:  PG-13 (for fantasy action violence, some frightening images and brief sensuality)
Genre:  Action/Adventure, Fantasy, Remake
Run Time:  118 min.
Director:  Louis Leterrier
Actors:  Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Jason Flemyng, Gemma Arterton, Alexa Davalos, Izabella Miko, Mads Mikkelsen, Pete Postlethwaite


The ads for Clash of the Titans suggest epic entertainment, superb special effects and the catch phrase of the year so far—"Release the Kraken!"—but there's nothing epic about Titans other than the sense of disappointment it leaves in viewers.

The film is lacking in nearly every area—story, performances and perhaps most disappointingly, special effects. Shot in 2D but then rushed into 3D after production had been completed, the conversion delivers very little. The film is so plodding and dull that viewers have plenty of time to wonder just why, exactly, they've been asked to wear dark glasses to so little effect.

The 2D-to-3D switch is driven by fantasies of box-office lucre—the filmmakers hopped onto the 3D bandwagon after seeing the way 3D ticket prices inflated box-office receipts. But the move creates a whiff of desperation. Could it be that the people behind the film realized they had a dud on their hands and then looked to 3D as a gimmick to mask the film's inability to hold viewers' attention across its nearly two-hour running time?

Titans certainly has generated interest. The crowd at a local preview screening was far larger than the theater could accommodate, and viewers were buzzing with anticipation before the lights dimmed. But the film's beginning killed the buzz. The only feeling that lingered as the final credits rolled was one of defeat.

Sam Worthington, fresh off his starring role in the triumphant box-office king, Avatar, stars as Perseus, a demi-god unaware that his human father is not his biological parent. That would be Zeus (Liam Neeson), who has squared off against his brother Hades (Ralph Fiennes), who rules the underworld. He's targeting the city of Argos because its residents have, he claims, grown too strong and no longer rely on the gods for help.

Perseus wants no part of the gods, even after learning that Zeus is his father, but realizes he must defeat Hades' plan. The king's daughter, Andromeda (Alexa Davalos), is pulled into the drama as a sacrificial pawn.

As the battle escalates, the gods release the Kraken—a massive sea beast that fills the screen, even though its immensity is never accentuated by the 3D presentation (the Kraken is probably just as impressive in two dimensions). Perseus' battle with giant scorpions is more exciting, if still not requiring three dimensionality for its brief thrills. Perseus' confrontation with Medusa is the film's most memorable sequence, but it wraps up too quickly to save the film.

Also, the Medusa segment, like the other special effects-driven sequences in Titans, comes after long, dreary passages of exposition. One of the primary offenders is a guardian angel of sorts, Io (Gemma Arterton), who watches over Perseus during his quest, popping off from time to time with explanations about the historical background of the human characters and the gods. This wouldn't be a problem if the actors brought something special to their characters, but Worthington, sans the avatar body suit, could hardly be flatter as Perseus. Neeson has become the voice of divine characters, but he's exuded more authority as the voice of the sea king in Ponyo and Aslan in The Chronicles of Narnia films than he does as Zeus. His ponderous performance in Titans sparks to life when Fiennes, as Hades, is on-screen with him, but even then the pulse is weak. Fiennes hams it up best of all, but one can't shake the sense that both thespians are slumming.

Clash of the Titans doesn't succeed as a compelling story, or as a competent spectacle. It fails to energize its viewers, instead slowly sapping them of any goodwill they brought into the theater. The film is a remake of a movie with the same title released in 1981, in the midst of the Star Wars phenomenon, when space operas with dazzling special effects captivated moviegoers. The visual-effects breakthroughs of those George Lucas films made the original Titans' stop-motion special effects (courtesy of the great Ray Harryhausen) seem entirely old-fashioned—a mechanical owl from the original is briefly referenced, to comedic effect, in the remake—but sometimes older is better. Anyone who saw the original vividly remembers Harryhausen's silly owl, and, of course, his terrifying Medusa, who produced more palpable feeling (fear) than anything mustered by this big-budget remake.

Fans of the original are advised to preserve their cherished memories of that film by avoiding this remake. Other potential viewers should resist the urge to see this titanic letdown.

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  • Language/Profanity: "bast-rd"; "b-tch"  
  • Smoking/Drinking/Drugs:  None.
  • Sex/Nudity:  A king's wife sleeps with another man; no nudity but they are shown being discovered; Perseus pins a woman down and they look at each other longingly.
  • Violence/Crime:  A woman's face withers; a virgin sacrifice is central to the humans' idea of how to appease the gods; a character seeks revenge against Hades; a sword fight; a man is ripped apart and another is shot; people are run through with swords, limbs are cut off and a severed hand is shown twitching on the ground; humans fight several giant scorpions; man is vomited upon by a giant bug; Medusa turns people to stone in the Underworld; Medusa is raped; a character is decapitated; a woman is stabbed and tossed aside; a man is run over by a horse.
  • Religion:  Story is built on myths of Greek gods; man is said to war against the gods, who depend on human prayers and fear for their existence; humans grow too strong and become a threat to the gods; gods conspire to have humans turn against each other, and thereby create more dependency on the gods; a human character says, "The gods need us"; a character says Hades is offering them "salvation" and that they must pray to the one now offering redemption through blood; prophecies are mentioned.