Film Review with Robert Mann – Clash of the Titans


Clash of the Titans 3D ***½
Clash of the Titans 2D ***½

Mythology is very popular in Hollywood right now, as evidenced in the release this week of DreamWorks Animation’s How to Train Your Dragon which plays on Viking mythology and in the May release of Disney’s Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time which finds its inspirations in Persian mythology. The real hot property, however, is Greek mythology. This year has already seen the release of Percy Jackson & The Lightning Thief, a children’s fantasy film which provides a very loose interpretation of aspects from Greek myth while in development project Dawn of War aims to provide a more literal take on the mythos. For right now, though, we have the eagerly anticipated remake of classic 1981 film Clash of the Titans. As with any remake of a classic film, there has been a fair amount of backlash aimed at this 21st century take on the 1981 classic Ray Harryhausen stop motion film. However, Clash of the Titans is nonetheless more ripe for a 21st century re-envisioning than many other films that have been remade over the years, with today’s advanced visual effects technologies allowing the filmmakers to really do justice to the film’s many monsters. Not that the original film’s stop motion effects didn’t have their charms, mind you, but visual effects open up whole worlds of new possibilities for the scope of the film. But is this film ambitious enough to fully live up to these possibilities?

Born the son of god Zeus (Liam Neeson) but raised as a man by simple fisherman Spyros (Pete Postlethwaite), Perseus (Sam Worthington) is helpless when his family are murdered by Hades (Ralph Fiennes), vengeful god of the underworld, collateral damage of an attack against the people of Argos in retaliation for their destruction of a statue of Zeus as a show of defiance against the gods. As a further punishment for their defiance, the people of Argos, ruled by King Kepheus (Vincent Regan) and Queen Cassiopeia (Polly Walker), find themselves threatened by both Hades and an enraged Zeus, with a stern warning that if their princess Andromeda (Alexa Davalos) is not sacrificed to them, the monstrous beast known as the Kraken will be unleashed. With nothing left to lose, and encouraged by the ageless Io (Gemma Arterton), Perseus volunteers to lead a dangerous mission, accompanied by a small group of Argosian soldiers headed by Draco (Mads Mikkelsen), to find a way to stop the Kraken, a mission that will take him right into the heart of the underworld. His quest sees him pursued by Acrisius (Jason Flemyng), a man who has a personal vendetta against Perseus; battling giant scorpions in the desert; encountering the Djinn, a group who themselves have tired of the gods; seeking aid from witches; and coming face to face with the dreaded gorgon Medusa (Natalia Vodianova) before his final climactic encounter with the Kraken itself. With time fast running out Perseus can only survive if he can accept his power as a god, defy his fate and create his own destiny.



The tagline used in the first trailer for Clash of the Titans was “Titans Will Clash” – certainly not very imaginative but a pretty good indication of what to expect from the film. You see, this is one of those films where things like plot and character development take a backseat to action. The slight plot only really serves to link together a series of action sequences rather than the action occurring within a well developed narrative. Aside from the opening sequence (which is quite visually inventive, introducing the gods through star constellations) there is little to no exploration of the mythology upon which this film is inspired and, aside from the protagonist, there is no development for any of the characters, and even Perseus is given the bare minimum of backstory. Essentially, the characters just are rather than being developed enough to make us really care about them.
Additionally, the dialogue is pretty unmemorable. So, to be succinct, the writing is not great. But, the film does make up for this in other areas. Visually speaking, the film is quite stunning. The production design, costumes, sets and locations are all very good and are joined by some pretty decent practical creature effects. Aside from the CG creation of Medusa, which is a bit shoddy in places, the visual effects are very spectacular too, particularly in the climax when the Kraken reveals itself, with the monster being suitably menacing and also showing off some fantastic CGI work. The visual effects play very well in the numerous action sequences which all deliver the level of thrills and spills you would expect from a film such as this, with director Louis Leterrier’s action background really being put to great use, especially in the climax, which really does deliver a spectacular finale to the film. Another strong point is that Leterrier avoids the temptation to do anything cheesy, avoiding some of the mistakes made by the recent Percy Jackson movie and wisely reducing the clockwork owl that featured prominently in the original Clash of the Titans movie to a brief homage appearance. Considering that the writing isn’t that great, the performances are understandably not quite amazing. As we have come to expect from films such as this, no attempt is made at authentic accents, everyone just speaking in their native dialects, but no attempt is made to do the film in the Greek language either. This, however, doesn’t mean that the actors don’t do a decent job. For starters, most of the Gods are better cast than in Percy Jackson with real thespians playing Zeus and Hades, Neeson and Fiennes both bringing gravitas and intensity to their roles. Sam Worthington, in third blockbuster film to be released in less than a year following Terminator Salvation and Avatar, also delivers a very intense performance, once again showing that he is a natural movie star. The rest of the cast too are generally decent but no one really shines due to a lack of great material to work with. The star studded cast also includes quite a few other recognisable faces including Izabella Miko, Nicholas Hoult, Elizabeth McGovern, Alexander Siddig, Tamer Hassan, Danny Huston, Kaya Scodelario and Ian Whyte (the latter’s face not being so recognisable), although most only have very small roles. Overall, Clash of the Titans is a film that will never be remembered as a classic like its 1981 namesake nor will it really appeal to anyone looking for a film with real substance but if what you are looking for is an enjoyable popcorn movie that will keep you entertained there is plenty here for you.

NOTE: Unfortunately I was only able to see the 2D version of the film hence I am unable to comment on the quality of the 3D here. Thus, I cannot entirely vouch for the accuracy of the rating for the 3D version of the film.

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Review by Robert Mann BA (Hons)

© BRWC 2010.


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Alton loves film. He is founder and Editor In Chief of BRWC.  Some of the films he loves are Rear Window, Superman 2, The Man With The Two Brains, Clockwise, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, Trading Places, Stir Crazy and Punch-Drunk Love.

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