Clash of the Titans starts with a narration explaining how the stories of the Greek gods have been written in the stars for all to see. Well, as pretty as those twinkling night-lights are they don’t really do justice to the action sequences of the myths, which is where this film steps in.
Like with most Greek stories, in Clash of the Titans the people bring about their own troubles thanks to their tragic flaw of hubris. They have grown too proud for their own good, believing that they are now better than the gods that created them. Unfortunately for them these gods have their own excess of pride to contend with, and they really don’t like lower beings spitting in their faces. Seeing the destruction of a statue of Zeus by the soldiers of Argos, Hades vengefully wipes them out, as well as a ship below that just so happens to belong the Perseus’ family, killing all but him. Returning to Argos with another group of troops, Perseus witnesses Andromeda’s mother (the queen) boast that her daughter is more beautiful than Aphrodite, bringing about another attack by Hades. In order to correct her mistake, Hades demands that they sacrifice Andromeda by the next eclipse or else the kraken will wipe out the city. In order to seek revenge against Hades, Perseus agrees to find a way to kill the kraken, sending him on a massive, action packed adventure.
At first it took me a little while to get comfortable with the film because there was just something about the representation of the gods that seems a little off. For one thing, it all was a little too magical for me, and this was not helped by the fact that Hades was at the forefront with his Voldemort vocal imitation going full blast (thanks Ralph Fiennes), popping up in puffs of black smoke with his posse of dementors. Luckily enough once all the story set up with the gods gets out of the way and Perseus sets out on his journey the movie starts to find its footing.
It probably doesn’t hurt that I knew nothing about the mythology going in and was therefore unconcerned about the medley of encounters he comes across along the way. Giant scorpions? Pegasus? Creepy desert men with magical staffs? A weird beastly man that is strong enough to rip men in half? Well, that last one was a little much for me. But you get the idea. I was pretty much willing to accept anything that was thrown in because they brought on more action and graphics, and this was exactly what this film was best at. The action sequences were really fun to watch and the computer graphics were amazing (though I will say I wasn’t really impressed by the 3D). Other than Medusa’s face everything just looked so real and this film offered up some really great images and sequences, culminating with the kraken.
Though the action sequences always deliver, it becomes clear that when they aren’t fighting no one is really quite clear what to do with the characters. For starters, with a battle between man and the gods growing I was hoping to deal with more than just two gods. Other than it being impossible for me not to think of Voldemort, Ralph Fiennes does do a decent job as a manipulative, conniving brother to Liam Neeson’s Zeus, who tends to pull focus in these scenes thanks to his flamboyantly shiny armor and mood swings. Apart from these two I hoped to at least see Poseidon considering all the water present, maybe splashing around in the water behind the kraken or something, but instead there are just faint glimpses of them on Olympus as they sit idly by as Hades manipulates his brother Zeus, acting as ornamentation rather than powerful beings to bow down to.
For the humans the most notable is Sam Worthington in his portrayal of the demigod Perseus (his father is actually Zeus), cementing him as a dependable action star, but I hope that he doesn’t get pigeonholed in these roles because he has proven to be a well-rounded actor. The other actors playing the soldiers aiding Perseus along the way do the best with what they are given, which is actually much more than what the women have to do, who are even more of an afterthought than these men. Gemma Arterton does what she can as Io, but it becomes clear that she is pretty much there for Perseus to look at, at least when it is remembered that she is there. It actually becomes quite comical watching her pop in and out of scenes, delivering such cheesy lines as “calm your storm” (which I am very excited to start using on a regular basis). Luckily for Arterton it looks like she will be getting her fair share of screen time in the upcoming Prince of Persia, so the person I feel worst for is Alexa Davalos. During the first meeting of Andromeda and Perseus she steps out as a possible love interest for him, especially because it would give him an even greater reason to want to keep her from being sacrificed, but once he sets out Andromeda is almost completely forgotten as well.
Even with these flaws Clash of the Titans is a fun film that can be forgiven for most of its weaker aspects thanks to the amazing action and graphics. I just suggest really not paying attention to the actual mythology of these characters (which I stupidly looked up post viewing) because some of the weaknesses and questionable choices I notice about the film now wouldn’t have been as apparent had I been oblivious to the actual stories.
Final Grade: B