Friday, 17 September 2010

Clash of the Titans

Lowdown: An unlikely demigod fights Greek mythology creatures to save a city of humans.
Thus far I am yet to encounter a good word being said about this new film version of Clash of the Titans. The fact the film was retrospectively turned into a 3D cinematic release for the simple desire of riding the Avatar wave of hype did not contribute to me wishing to watch the film either. Hell, I didn’t even like the older 1981 release. So why did I watch it out of my own choice? Well, it was a Thursday night and we wanted to watch a film that would entertain us but wouldn’t tax us; Clash of the Titans fit the bill. It fit the bill, but it was still a bad film nevertheless.
The rather chaotic plot follows Sam Worthington, fresh from Avatar’s waves of successful hype, in a Greek mythology action flick. Worthington plays Perseus, a fisherman whose adopting family is killed through a conspiracy of the gods (Zeus & Co) to hurt the people of Argos. The gods are annoyed because they gave life to these humans in the first place, but now they depend on these people’s faith for power; the people, on the other hand, are annoyed with the poor return on investment the gods provide in exchange for prayers (i.e., their lives suck). So the people rebel, the gods set out to destroy the people's city, and Perseus fits somewhere in between as the unlikely saviour of all that is good blah blah blah… In short, what we have on our hands with Clash of the Titans is a poorly constructed film that is a mere excuse for massive amounts of action special effects being thrown at us, most of which are of the way too obviously digital kind.
The whole affair called Clash of the Titans is a case study for films conjured by the film studio’s marketing department. The cast is full of famous names doing minor roles, as if to try and convince us the film is good by virtue of the likes of Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes taking part. The plot is simply pathetic, devoid of anything remotely like “cause and effect”: things happen because they happen; afterwards the film may be gracious enough to provide an explanation as to the why they happened, but usually these explanations are as plausible as the Tooth Fairy. Character development is a non issue as it doesn’t exist, and understanding characters’ motivations for doing what they’re doing is a task best neglected by those of us who like to use their brains. Even with the lead character of Perseus I found it hard to fathom why he’s helping the humans fight the gods and save their city, given that for him this is all about avenging the death of his adopting family.
Then there are simpler questions, such as how does Perseus’ character manage to keep his neatly shaved hair in the same shape throughout the film and how come he always seems to have a five o'clock shadow type shave. Even if you dare ask what message the film is trying to leave behind you’d have to struggle between two opposing factions, because on one hand the film seems to say we should take our fate in our own hands while on the other it says that we shouldn’t forget the gods who made us in the first place. This is it, really: Clash of the Titans is a film that’s aimed to please, but it tries to please so hard it fails on all fronts. The result is a film that is mildly entertaining as an easy watch with the brain switched off, but that’s it; suitable for a Thursday evening watch, perhaps, but a very imperfect film all the same.
Silliest scene: Io, who earlier on told us she was cursed with immortality, dies. Don’t worry, though, she makes her comeback.
Silliest alternative scene: The Blu-ray is equipped with an alternate ending in which our hero goes for another girl altogether. If there was ever a sign for a disjointed film whose creators didn't know what they were doing, this is it.
Technical assessment: A good Blu-ray all around, especially in the sound department where it uses the surrounds very well to create an aggressive and palpable presence. Still, perhaps because the film was far from great, I couldn’t help feeling this is not an exceptionally good Blu-ray.
Overall: The marketing department failed, as it usually does when it tries to create a work of art. 2.5 out of 5 stars.

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