Clash of the Titans: RELEASE THE KRAKEN!
Ever since I saw the trailer for the remake of Clash of the Titans, I’ve been saying “Release the Kraken!” over and over again. The perfect casting of Liam Neeson as Zeus, the gaudiness of his glowing metal armor, the level of hamminess with which he delivered the line– everything added up to this being a remake that truly lived up to its somewhat dated original. However, that scene was one of the few moments in the film that lived up to the hype. Clash of the Titans has several fun scenes and big special effects, but very few moments of actual tension and even fewer characters we care about. It’s enjoyable enough as it passes before your eyes, but it’s instantly forgettable, and if you don’t forget it instantly, then you’ll find it incredibly easy to pick apart the plotholes, lapses in logic, and sloppy writing. Its now-legendary editing hack job is obvious– it’s as palatable and harmless a piece of Hollywood fare one could imagine.
The gods and humans are growing increasingly impatient with one another. Zeus (Liam Neeson) is displeased at how disrespectful humans are to him, as his powers feed off of human devotion, while mankind is rebelling against the indifference the gods have shown. Perseus (Sam Worthington) has extra reason to hate the gods– his father (Pete Postlethwaite) and family are killed by Hades (Ralph Fiennes) after he and his harpies murder some soldiers defacing a statue of Zeus. Perseus is taken to Argos, where Hades makes a demand: either Princess Andromeda (Alexa Davalos) is sacrificed to the Kraken in ten days, or Argos will be destroyed. When Io (Gemma Arterton) reveals to Perseus that he is a demigod, and if he kills the Kraken he can kill Hades, he joins the Praetorian Guard to find the Stygian Witches, who will tell him what to do. Meanwhile, Perseus’ real father Acrisius (Jason Flemyng), who is now called Calibos, is given powers by Hades to stop Perseus. Also, Zeus attempts to give Perseus gifts to help him on his quest. Also, a group of creatures called the Djinn join their party, and…
… look, there’s a lot of plot. The original film moves at a leisurely pace in order to let everything that occurs have impact, and as a result, it drags at points. In 2010, a film dragging is the last thing the studios want, so instead they sacrifice tension and clarity in order to keep the movie “fun.” I don’t mind if a remake changes elements from the original, but I can say that the original seemed to make sense. The last twenty minutes of this remake are so full of out-of-character decisions, bizarre plot twists, cop outs, and easy solutions to impossible problems that it’s almost impossible to leave the theater with a full grin. It’s all fun while it’s going on, but absolutely nothing lingers afterward.
Except, of course, the famous line. The gods are the most interesting characters in the film. Neeson and Fiennes have great fun in their scenes, as Neeson struts around in godly armor with great wisdom and Fiennes snivels in his pale skin and ugly hair like Voldemort 2.0– no one snivels like Fiennes. Too bad the editors have all but removed them entirely from the plot. If you couldn’t feel the impact from the studio editors in general, then seeing well-known actor Danny Huston as Poseidon should’ve tipped you off. You see, Poseidon in this film doesn’t have a single line. Why would Huston have been cast? The only reason: in the original cut of this film, he had a substantial role. This has more or less been confirmed by Devin Faraci at CHUD in an outstanding article about what this film was supposed to be. The strange romance between Perseus and Io, the dumb “I want to kill Hades” motivation, the clumsy conclusion– all the result of poor post-production work.
Some elements still work in the film. I love Mads Mikkelsen as Draco, head of the Guard– he has an intensity that is perfect for a film like this. Jason Flemyng, who was the only decent part of the failed League of Extraordinary Gentlemen film, is terrific as Calibos, giving a shred of humanity to a film strangely lacking in it. The effects are all quite compelling– the Djinn and Stygian Witches look like they stepped out of a Guillermo Del Toro film, and the scorpion attack certainly is an entertaining if anticlimactic sequence. They updated Medusa significantly, and while visually it’s pretty terrific, it’s not even an iota as scary as the stop-motion original. In fact, it’s not scary at all. And while the Kraken is impressive to look at, it too is an anticlimactic sequence. I reiterate that the film was fun enough to watch as it passed before my eyes, as I wasn’t thinking too hard about it. I was happy when Neeson released the Kraken. I’ll be happier if the studios release on DVD the original cut of this film– maybe then it will be more than a mindless diversion.
Note: I avoided the 3D version like the plague, and I hope you do the same. They shot the film without 3D in mind, and then the studios converted it to 3D once they saw there was more money to be made. By all accounts, the 3D was shoddy at best and headache-inducing at worst. One could visibly note obvious flaws in the 3D effects. Before going to see a 3D film, first research if the film was shot originally to be in 3D– if it was converted after the fact, stay away.