A remake of the 1981 Greek mythology based action adventure by Transporter 2/Incredible Hulk director Louis Leterrier, in which the gods, angry at mankind losing faith in them, unleash a series of deadly beasts on the city of Argos, and the citizens only hope lies in a ragtag band of warriors, lead by reluctant half-god Perseus (played by Avatar star Sam Worthington, in his first role since the release of that $2 billion juggernaut). As the original is more fondly remembered for its creatures – animated in suitably creepy style by stop-motion legend Ray Harryhausen – than its story, this is one Hollywood remake that has the potential to improve upon its source material.
Although lacking the charm of Harryhausen’s work, the creature design in this new version of Clash of the Titans is suitably impressive, all rendered surprisingly well in CGI (unlike the uninspired work in Percy Jackson, Hollywood’s other foray into Greek myth this year) – particularly in the case of the really quite creepy, shrivelled and decayed Stygian witches. The film’s main monster the Kraken is also quite awe-inspiring, even if it is somewhat wasted – despite the numerous warnings given about its ferociousness throughout the film it’s dispatched fairly easily and quickly. This sums up a major problem with this film, the pacing. Clash of the Titans rattles along at a fair rate, never stopping to get dull, but on the other hand it feels like a huge chunk has been cut out of it, characters are underdeveloped or even only appear for a line of dialogue or two (which can be distracting due to the amount of recognisable faces in the film), and the time isn’t even taken to address to potential plot holes, the film instead choosing to carry on regardless.
Sam Worthington, as in Avatar, manages to do the brooding hunk act very well but struggles when asked to do much else, and doesn’t even bother to drop his Australian accent (although to be fair there’s a bit of a hodgepodge of accents going on in the film). Elsewhere the cast are either functionary – Liam Neeson does his usual authoritative thing as Zeus, and Gemma Arterton is once again posh and pretty – or wasted, About A Boy’s Nicholas Hoult makes for an odd looking warrior, and Mads Mikkelsen provides a tough presence (as he did in Antoine Fuqua’s version of King Arthur, being the only memorable thing about that myth-based action movie), but is given next to nothing to do. Really the only standout performance is Ralph Fiennes as Hades, whose unearthly (and it must be said, slightly camp, in a very entertaining way) presence is complimented with an unflattering choice of haircut and odd accent delivered in a sinister hoarse whisper.
Following the success of Avatar’s 3D screenings, Clash of the Titans’ release was delayed so that the film could be ‘upgraded’ from two dimensions to three. Although the question of what 3D has to offer other than a bit of gimmicky fun is still a very open one, Clash of the Titans is possibly the first film – certainly of this new wave of 3D movies – to actually be damaged by it. Clearly not designed to be seen this way, the loss of colour and clarity from viewing through the required spectacles renders much of the film, with its darkly lit locations and jerky editing, murky and hard to follow. If given the choice (which seems to be an increasingly rare luxury), make sure to ditch the glasses and just see it in 2D.