Clash of The Titans: A Review
Clash of The Titans – Dir: Louis Leterrier; *ing: Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson, Gemma Arterton, Alexa Davalos
Release the Kraken. Take the cannoli.
In the times of the Greek gods, Humans have had it with Zeus (Neeson) and his ilk being interfering pains in the neck instead of simply preening and posing and enunciating pointedly at each other to eternity like nice deities should do. So they enlist Zeus’ own illegitimate son, reluctant half-man-half-god Perseus (Worthington) to duke it out with the immortals, assisted by the mysterious Io (Arterton).
Viewers of Clash of The Titans are likely split into two groups. The first, who’ll complain that it’s not a patch on the 1981 version, but if they were to be honest to themselves they’d admit that the only worthy aspect of that was the still-electrifying special effects created by stop-motion legend Ray Harryhausen; the rest of it consisted of a vacant-eyed Harry Hamlin running around with mouth agape while Sir Laurence Olivier – playing Zeus – glowered and pontificated and generally tried not to look embarrassed. And the other group? That would be the one laughing itself to a hernia at all the possible rude permutations of the word ‘titans.’
But which titans, exactly, are we talking about here? Since at the point the movie opens, Zeus and Co. have already defeated the ones of legend, we’re not quite certain. Is it Medusa, the terrifying Gorgon with the serpent-infused hairdo? Is it the slobbering sea-monster, the Kraken? Or are the titans more broadly symbolic – gods versus mortals? In one corner we have the arrogant deities who like to lounge about on their thrones and lean against an assortment of pillars, wearing astonishing amounts of filmy fabric, alternately communicating with each other in conspiratorial whispers and bellowing ultimatums. And in the other we have the spirit of man, which stands up to the selfish whims of the gods with unflinching bravery.
Or some such nonsense. Who the heck cares? Sam Worthington is in a teeny skirt for Pete’s sake! There are terrifically heart-stopping battles aplenty between our heroes and CGI. There are gargantuan scorpion-monsters who first attack without mercy and then suddenly become domesticated beasts of burden when stunned into submission by the Djinn, a band of deformed desert people with glowing eyes who speak in standard-issue baritone gibberish. (Their leader is called Sheikh Suleiman; no doubt the head of one of the lesser known Sufi orders). There is the suspenseful cat-and-mouse between Perseus and Medusa, which culminates with our hero upholding the historically noble tradition of lopping off people’s heads – John the Baptist, Alfredo Garcia, the nameless victims of the Queen of Hearts – and carrying them around in a sack for later use. And as cinematic modes of transport go, the flying Pegasus is surely up there with Harry Potter’s Firebolt broomstick.
Oh sure, one can find fault here and there. For instance, Worthington, with his designer stubble and snazzy buzz-cut, looks not so much like a demi-god of myth as a line-backer for the NFL – where are the prissy curly locks, I say? And the gloriously generous thicket of facial hair inherited from dad Zeus? And why is Andromeda (Davalos) relegated from her role as the hero’s main squeeze to that of the Kraken’s tea-time treat?
That’s just the point though. Titans isn’t meant for the gods, it’s for us mere mortals. It may not be great cinema, but it’s good entertainment. It’s energetic, imaginative, excessive, incredibly silly, and a boat load of fun. Don’t go in expecting a somber, faithful re-telling of a mythological classic and you’ll be rewarded. But if you, in party-pooper mode, do complain about all the deviances from the text, especially the depiction of Io as a beautiful woman rather than in her animal incarnation, just think: when’s the last time you paid to see a movie with a cow as the love-interest?