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10 December 2010

"Clash of the Titans (2010)" Review

Director: Louis Leterrier.
Cast: Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Gemma Arterton, Ian Whyte.

            My taste in movies is funny, the type of “I just ate a green and brown sandwich and now I have a funny taste in my mouth” kind of funny. I usually go from movies everybody praises and respects like “12 Angry Men” while savagely defending movies that people consider to be under the lint of their pockets like “Twister”. I am a person who has nothing to demonstrate, so my ranges of movies are more varied than those of other critics, who focus on a movie genre and just roll with it, no matter how embarrassing it can get with time.

I am over-explaining this point for the one and only reason that I actually enjoyed “Clash of the Titans” despite it being a movie tailor made to piss people off. Let’s be honest here, remakes will only appeal to those who never watched the original movies, even if the remake is really good (like “Dawn of the Dead” or “King Kong”), while those who did watched the original movies will get angry, and pissy, and will brag for pages about how this rip-off destroys all the spirit of the original one. I don’t try to say they are wrong, sadly they are almost always right. I never watched the original versions of movies like “Ocean’s Eleven”, “Dawn of the Dead” or “the movie I am reviewing today” but I acknowledge them as classics that deserve a great deal of respect and admiration. This said, knowing them doesn’t help the review in any way, shape of form. A movie should stand on its own and it doesn’t need to be compared to anything else to be reviewed, even if it’s a remake. This said, let’s dive into this movie.

Clash of the Titans tells the story of how a fisherman killed the biggest fish in the sea that the Gods summoned to destroy an entire city because humanity stopped believing in them. Or to be more accurate, it tells the story of Perseus, who killed the Kraken using the decapitated head of Medusa and doing so saving the city of Argos from the destruction planned by Zeus tricked by his brother Hades. Explained that way it does sound kickass, until you realize that Perseus is a 10 foot tall blue kitty, Hades is played by Voldemort, Zeus used to be a talking lion and the Medusa is a top model…oh, and the Kraken must be played by Rosie O’Donnell. This remake counts with a star-struck cast populated with the top billing supporting role actors you will see in any blockbuster and the new comer Sam Worthington as the lead, and all my mockery aside I will say it pretty much works…for what is worth it.

The acting in this movie ranges from the unintentional hilarity to the more or less solid performances you will see in any decent action flick, and if somebody has to be acknowledged for this is Sam Worthington. I know I am going to get a lot of hate for this, but he is the new Reb Brown. You remember him? Yelling, screaming, shouting and shooting at things? His acting was snarky and when he tried to act emotionally it was funnier than any Monty Python sketch combined, Reb Brown starred in such cult classics like “Howling 2”, “Strike Commando”, “Robo War” and the MST3K Classic “Space Mutiny”. Sam Worthington is exactly like him. He is a big brick with puppy eyes who shouts and yells, kills CGI enemies and snarls. He is better than Reb Brown though for two reasons: 1, he doesn’t try to force the emotion of a scene with crying and sobbing; and 2, unlike Reb Brown, he knows subtlety when acting in a non-action scene. Damn, now I just pictured “AVATAR” with Reb Brown, yikes. But all that aside, Sam Worthington is a pretty good actor. He is not Jeff Bridges but he is definitely better than Robert DeNiro’s latest performances (“Stardust” anyone? How about some “Meet the Fockers”? That man has lost his compass).

So the lead is good (at least for me he is really good), but how about the supporting cast? Well, we will leave the soldiers aside, because they are the most flat out cast of characters I have seen in a recent movie in years. We are talking about Michelle Rodriguez characterization flat, the total lack of such a thing as charisma and character, with just one or, if lucky, two character traits each. I won’t mention them, they bore me and it made me utterly happy to see the Medusa stoning them and breaking them to rubble. The really interesting characters here are the Gods and the Demi-Gods. Liam Neeson is not worth mentioning. This man has found an acting method by which he is always a badass and all he has to do is change costumes. “The Chronicles of Narnia”: A lion. “Taken”: A Retired CIA Agent. “Fallout 3”: An uncanny valley 3D model. “Clash of the Titans”: A white glowy armor. He plays an awesome Zeus who doesn’t talk but roar, no matter the situation, badass from head to toe. Ralph Fiennes tries to be Hades, and I emphasize “try” because every time he talks you will be hearing James Woods’ voice from Disney’s “Hercules”. Gemma Arterton is alright as Io. People have gone as far as calling her “…dead eye, cold as an icicle flat performance” but I think she does a pretty good job with a character so bland you can dip into water and will dissolve. Finally a especial mention to stunt actor Ian Whyte, who plays a character that I have baptized as “Garrus from Mass Effect in Dragon Age: Origins”. I don’t know what else to say, but he is the definition of wooden acting, and you will spend the entire movie giggling at how silly-yet-cool he looks like. It’s impossible to miss.

So the acting is fine, and I just used two paragraphs of the 8 I like to use to write these reviews, so I will jump into the rest of the stuff quickly. The writing is pretty much use and throw. There is little to nothing worth saving of dialogue, except for the usual buddy-dialogue lines you will get from a Bruce Willis movie, used to rip a giggle from the audience or make us care about the characters. In this aspect, the writing is a big, red weak point that the actors and directors can’t stop pointing at, and that is sad. It flows okay, but this is thanks to a competent director (who did “That Hulk movie which is actually good, you know? Not like Ang Lee’s version”) rather than good writing. The only good part of the writing can be the ending which (spoiler alert) ends up pairing Perseus with Io, instead of pairing him with the Princess of Argos. I liked this a lot, but when I read that this is what the studio wanted (not the filmmakers) I got kind of weirded out. Did I just like the decision made by a Studio Exec? I feel unclean! I will be right back; I need to find the bleach and a scrapper.

The music is repetitive but at least doesn’t have choirs every five minutes. It tries to be humongous and epic using just trumpets, drums and violins, but not choirs…and if it has any I have never noticed them. If anything the music will be beating you so hard you will be humming the tunes of it unintentionally. It’s memorable for all the wrong reasons. The visual effects are impressive, fluent and seamless with the overall tone of the movie, though in this day and age the impressive thing will be to have terrible special effects in a movie of this budget. What is really impressive here is the action. There is no shaky cam, no lens-flare, no clouds of dust or anything featured in modern day action movies. Here the action flows and stays steady the same way it happened in “AVATAR”, so you know what’s going on in the scene and your head is not spinning side to side trying to understand who the bad guy is and who’s the good guy.

So overall, “Clash of the Titans” seems like you average fantasy/action-adventure movie. It’s plagued with cameos, it has a solid acting work, good special effects, good actions sequences, and a length of 100 minutes, which gleefully shorter than other films. It’s the perfect movie to watch a Saturday afternoon when you are bored and don’t feel like killing enemies in any videogame or read a book. It’s a pretentious less movie that will leave no mark in the history of film-making, and for me that’s more than enough. Maybe the ones who praised the original will rage because it took that movie they loved and turned it into a popcorn film. Exactly what the original used to be until somebody decided to call it a classic. That doesn’t seem likely to happen with this one though.

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