I don’t think it was particularly unreasonable of me to assume that in Clash of the Titans — a remake of the 1981 stop-motion epic that has aged about as well as everything from the 80s — there was going to be a few instances where Titans would, in fact, clash. It turns out I was expecting too much; not once does the film live up to its title. And the disappointments don’t end there.
Firstly, the much-touted 3D is a complete sham. Originally shot in typical 2D, Titans was transferred to 3D in January this year to jump on the Avatar bandwagon and milk a few extra dollars from moviegoers. Rather than enhance the visuals, it has actually managed to make a bad film even worse; the tinting of the glasses make the bleak hues even darker, while the faux-3D provides an unrealistic and off-putting depth to each scene that makes the characters look like cardboard cut-outs placed at varying distances from the camera. Do yourself a favour and avoid the 3D. Do yourself a bigger favour and avoid the film entirely.
Perhaps if it wasn’t so unevenly written and sloppily directed, Titans might have been quite engaging considering it deals with interesting concepts pertaining to Greek mythology. The plot revolves around man’s rebellion against the Gods – namely Zeus (Liam Neeson), King of Oympus, and his spiteful brother Hades (Ralph Fiennes), King of the Underworld – who rely on the prayers of mankind to fuel their immortality. When the prayers start running dry, Zeus grants his brother Hades permission to unleash hell on Earth in order to instil fear in the people and remind them who’s boss. Standing in his way, however, is demigod Perseus (Sam Worthington), the lost son of Zeus who denies his divine ancestry and joins the human resistance. He is tasked with the challenge of killing the evil Kraken, a giant sea monster that will be unleashed on the city of Argos during the next eclipse.
This final battle between Perseus and the Kraken — a creature so outrageously large it’s like Jabba the Hutt’s planet-destroying cousin — is about as anti-climactic as they get, lasting all of a few minutes and bearing about as much tension as a broken rubber band.
The primary problem with the screenplay, which is credited to four people (never a good sign), is that it hasn’t an internal logic. Events occur so arbitrarily, we’re given no grounding sense of what the film considers reality. Giant killer scorpions spawned from the blood of a severed hand? Why the hell not! But don’t fret; a race of freaky-faced sand people arrive just in the nick of time who are, miraculously, fluent in Scorpion. Phew, that was lucky!
You’d also need a PhD in psychology to understand Zeus’ motivations; one minute he’s smiting mankind for their disloyalty, the next he’s sending down divine gifts to Perseus to aid in his God-killing quest. He backflips so often, he’d give Kevin Rudd a run for his money.
When it comes to the action — obviously the film’s chief selling point — director Louis Leterrier (Transporter 2, The Incredible Hulk) foolishly adheres to Michael Bay’s motto that ‘bigger is better’. Too big, he fails to realise, and things become hard to follow, uninvolving and tiresome to watch. It doesn’t help that the special effects are far from impressive, some scenes so below Hollywood standards you have to wonder where the hundreds of millions of dollars were spent. Admittedly, much of the production design aims for camp appeal — the sets, costumes and make-up are all over the top – but because Leterrier’s direction lacks any flair and the script any sense of humour, it all comes across as sloppy and inconsistent.
He looks the part as Perseus, but Australia’s own Sam Worthington — currently the king of the box office after starring in last year’s Terminator: Salvation and Avatar — delivers his worst performance to date. Worthington spits out horribly wooden dialogue like a tree mulcher, so devoid of apt direction he looks straight into the camera on multiple occasions. Making no effort to mask his Aussie accent — you’re in Greece, Sam, not Perth — I half expected his encounter with the Kraken to be met with “Crikey! Isn’t she a beauty.”
Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes are just as underwhelming in their celestial roles, the former performing far too earnestly given how ridiculous he looks in a sparkly suit of armour, the latter merely rehashing his role as Voldemort from the Harry Potter series. In support, Gemma Arterton (Quantum of Solace) serves as love interest Io, following Perseus around like a creepy stalker, chiming in with her vast bank of knowledge when something otherwise inexplicable needs explaining. She keeps busy, in other words.
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