Epic Fail

If anything, the mechanical owl in the original Clash of the Titans signaled a level of fun and playfulness.  These filmmakers weren’t taking themselves too seriously.  We can’t say the same thing about the re-make, which releases today, even though the owl makes a cameo appearance.This Clash of the Titans follows its 1981 predecessor fairly closely but boasts impressive special effects upgrades, turning into something like a Transformers film in Greek clothing.  It tells the story of Perseus (Sam Worthington), an abandoned demi-god who seeks revenge on Hades (Ralph Fiennes) for killing his earthly parents and sister.  Armed with the help of fellow strongmen including Draco (Mads Mikkelsen) and a guide, Io (Gemma Arterton), he sets forth on a journey to face scorpion foes which miraculously turn into modes of transportation (think of the oliphants in The Lord of the Rings but just a bit smaller), Medusa, and the Kraken and, finally and extremely quickly, Hades himself.

Bubo, the mechanical owl from the original "Clash of the Titans."

If I wrote yesterday of Almodovar’s tendency to have his filmmaking serve character, then this is, obviously, the complete opposite end of the filmmaking spectrum.  The story here is an absolutely weak, borderline pointless, framework to tie together the special effects.  Director Louis Leterrier and writers Travis Beacham and Phil Hay take it way too seriously.  They include a discussion between Zeus (Liam Neeson) and Hades over what it takes for a God to exist, love or fear.  Yet if we want to dig a bit deeper for some theological talking points from this film, it might serve to put some flesh on Bruce Epperly‘s notion that our actions and emotions affect the experience of God.  However, I know that Bruce has a much more complex theology in mind here and that God certainly isn’t as petty as either of the cinematic gods that we have here.

Gemma Anderton as Io.

Furthermore, Clash of the Titans ends with yet another big blockbuster affirmation of a heterosexual relationship that really has absolutely no place in the film except to, well, affirm an idealized view of relationships.  After all the dust has settled, Zeus tells Perseus, “After all, you’re a son of Zeus!  You can’t be alone!”  Poof!  Io, who was the last of Perseus’ company to die, reappears, and Perseus looks back at Zeus with a knowing smile.  If Zeus could raise her from the dead, why not the men who died defending Perseus in battle?

The kraken now.

The kraken then.

I didn’t go into this film with anything close to high expectations.  I found myself longing for each epic battle set piece to hurry up and arrive, especially the fight scene with the Kraken (which is fairly wicked!).  I then realized that the filmmakers seemed to want to arrive there just as quickly as I did, without any concern for how or why they got there.

The Clash of the Titans (118 mins.) is rated PG-13 for fantasy violence.

Print Friendly

About J. Ryan Parker
  • Audrey

    Having not as much knowledge about Greek mythology movies, I appreciated this recent Newsweek review of the genre, To Hellenic and Back:

    http://www.newsweek.com/id/235077

    It makes the interesting case that modern movie makers don’t really get the mystery and deep questioning that was at the heart of the best Hellenic tales, which is what made them last (i.e. this is why our modern movies won’t). That’s not too far from the literalistic mess many have made of Biblical stories, either. Anyway, an interesting read.