To put it bluntly, Clash of the Titans was boring. So boring, in fact, that Liam Neeson bellowing something like “RELEASE THE KRACKEN!” is less the brassy trumpet blast heard on TV than it is muted background noise. It’s like an egotist taking off his pants in front of some girl in the dead of winter, blissfully unaware of shrinkage. It ain’t funny. It ain’t pretty. It’s mostly sad. Tiresome, even.
The deal is this: It’s ancient Greece, and humans have gotten around to being upset that they have to sacrifice the best parts of their food to the gods who, in turn, reward them with famine, pestilence, and war. Perseus (Sam Worthington) is just a guy on a fishing boat until some humans get the bright idea to push a statue of one of the gods into the ocean, which royally pisses off Poseidon, who sends a bunch of waves and sea creatures to attack in retaliation. Perseus’ adopted father dies when the boat is wrecked, he washes ashore, and you’ve got a pretty willing combatant against the gods.
The problem here, shrugging off the notion of Zeus simply zapping Perseus and his buddies with a lightning bolt and calling it a movie, is twofold. First, this whole man vs. gods thing is an elaborate ploy by Hades (Ralph Fiennes), who feels that he should be the ruler of the gods. He figures that he can turn humans against Zeus, who apparently needs their prayers and sacrifices to keep up on the house payments and the nectar and ambrosia budget. Hades doesn’t need people, having learned how to survive on fear.
Second, Perseus is a demigod, meaning that, wouldn’t you know it, Zeus had sex with his mom. That means that Zeus, even though he’s raging over the indignities paid him by humanity at large, is willing to bequeath Perseus with a magical sword that Perseus doesn’t want to use because he’s human, dammit, and he’s not about to start listening to his absent father as a 30-year-old action figure. So he tries to fight the CGI machinations of Hades on his own until his human friends get tired of his tough guy act and tell him to pick up the damn sword and be useful.
And that’s your movie. The kraken is eventually released, but he’s a big brown mess of teeth and testicles and not much else, and there’s really no way to stage an effective action sequence between Sam Worthington and a giant plastic bag, so I suppose its to the credit of the filmmakers that they didn’t even try. There’s a subplot involving an ultimatum that the city of Argos give up its princess or be devoured, but if you think the beautiful girl is going to be swallowed by the ugly plastic bag, you must be new here. And I think that Io (Gemma Arterton) is a muse who follows Perseus around so that future poets will have something to write about, but this is a movie so devoid of poetry that I may have been inventing things to keep myself interested.
Sam Worthington is all gritted teeth and shouting, and Liam Neeson is firmly in victory lap mode. I wonder what pressing need overtook Warner Bros. that they just had to remake the goofy, endearing 1981 film (featuring the stop-motion animation of Ray Harryhausen, for the uninitiated) instead of doing something unique with the Greek gods, like portraying them trying to find purpose in a world that no longer needs or wants them. As an action movie, this is a decent timesucker, but if there’s something I learn every time I turn on the TV, it’s that the world is ending soon and there’s not much time left to suck. I just hope that whatever’s coming for us is more compelling than the Kraken, and that future civilizations at least get antagonists right when they’re making their uninspired movies about our clash with the inevitable. I didn’t see a single titan in the whole damn movie.
Clash of the Titans. Directed by Louis Leterrier. With Sam Worthington (Perseus), Liam Neeson (Zeus), Ralph Fiennes (Hades), Jason Flemyng (Calibos/Acrisius), Gemma Arterson (Io), Alexa Davalos (Andromeda), Pete Postlethwaite (Spyros), Elizabeth McGovern (Marmara), and Danny Huston (Poseidon). Released April 2, 2010, by Warner Bros.