Silver Chips Online

"Clash of the Titans" results in pieces

Filmmakers' sacrifice of story for CGI leads to a mess

By Anya Gosine, Online Managing, Op/Ed and Food Editor
April 5, 2010
Director Louis Leterrier certainly had his ambitions in his remake of the 1981 "Clash of the Titans." The film is a gripping tale of a young hero who leads the Grecians to overpower their revered gods by completing a long and treacherous quest - however, it appears that Leterrier is the one who lost himself on the way.

Clash of the Titans

(released April 02, 2010)
Perseus, the mortal-son of Zeus must defeat fearful mythical creatures to stop the powerful Hades. Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures
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Perseus, the mortal-son of Zeus must defeat fearful mythical creatures to stop the powerful Hades.
The story follows young hero Perseus (Sam Worthington), who as a baby is found and adopted by a fisherman and his wife. Two decades later Perseus and his family find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time, as the sinister god Hades arrives to massacre a group of protesting Greek villagers and Perseus's family is killed in the fury. Perseus, furious, becomes determined to avenge his family's death by killing Hades but to do so must join forces with soldiers from the city of Argos to embark on a journey to seek out powerful creatures and defeat the Kraken, which will ultimately allow Perseus to defeat Hades himself. Along the way it is revealed that Perseus is actually a demigod, with Zeus (Liam Neeson) himself as his father, which causes him further challenges, dealing with his faith to mankind, to overcome in order to succeed.

"Avatar" star Worthington once again leads as a strong-willed protagonist. But while he may have gotten away with his monotony and flat character in previous films, these traits damage Perseus's credibility as a mythic hero. While Perseus makes it clear that it is the death of his family that motivates him to battle, there is a drastic absence of emotion and bitterness that should be expected of one fighting to avenge lost loved ones.

The muddled character continue with the supporting actresses. Gemma Arterton portrays Io, another demigod (not included in the 1981 version of the film). Io is established as Perseus's wise and strong mentor as well as his love interest, but in several scenes, she devolves into a damsel-in-distress; this provides Perseus ample opportunity to play the hero, but it simply conflicts with the power and regality that she was supposed to have.

Princess Andromeda (Alexa Davalos), is another poorly-built character. She has her own subplot in the story where she debates whether to sacrifice herself to the Kraken in order to save Argos. But this relatively significant facet of the story is much too underdeveloped and pursued only at the beginning and end of the film, creating a sense of discord in the plot.

Poor transitions between events and ambiguous relationships between minor characters also left holes in the plot, which the filmmakers attempted to fill in with flashy and spectacular special effects, but their success was minimal. Some of the mythical creatures, such as the herd of giant scorpions that attack the travelers, were impressive in their grandeur, but others failed. The Three Witches, who are meant to be purely frightening, looked remotely like comical Muppets, while the chief Djinn, a desert human-like creature who assisted Perseus on his journey, looked like the awkward offspring of The Mummy and Optimus Prime.

For being the palace of the gods, Mount Olympus also suffered a wash of gaudy-looking effects. Zeus's lavish silver suit was painfully shiny (imagine a disco ball welded onto armor) and often blocked out his face in a distracting manner. The floor upon which the gods walked was also utterly unconvincing an attempt to make it look like the distant earth from hundreds of feet above made it seem like an oil painting with a fog machine above it.

Even the best element of the film, the action sequences, had its flaws. The scenes in which our heroes battle the evil creatures are at first exhilarating and engaging. However these segments become a bit too over-edited. The choppy shots meant to add to the disarray of battle add also to the confusing plot development. With cleaner but still captivating cinematography, these battles would have been more epic.

Taken as a whole, "Clash of the Titans" was just another passably entertaining Hollywood blockbuster. But beyond the flashy special effects were forgettable performances tied into an incoherent story that made the entire film a Titan-ic sized flop.

"Clash of the Titans" (118 minutes) is rated PG-13 for fantasy action violence, some frightening images and brief sensuality. Now playing in theaters everywhere. 3D available only in select theaters.

http://silverchips.mbhs.edu/story/10040