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Forget the titans

By Nick Liske
On April 8, 2010

The notion of spectacle is often tangled with predictability and lunacy in mythological action movies. This type of movie tends to build toward unfulfilled anticipation, which causes frustration and regret.

This is the case with the 2010 remake "Clash of the Titans," the first gargantuan Hollywood production of the year and possibly one of the most disappointing. With an exciting cast and alluring special effects, it is difficult to accept that this film is overall displeasing and poorly written.

The story unfortunately does not directly relate to true Greek mythology, but in a way it succeeds by following more closely to the original film and its plotline. The demigod Perseus is found as a baby by a fisherman (Pete Postlethwaite) who takes him in as his own. As the adult Perseus (Sam Worthington) yearns to find where he belongs, his family is killed by Hades (Ralph Fiennes) and Perseus discovers that he is the son of Zeus (Liam Neeson). Learning he is a demigod and that he can foil Hades' plot to destroy man and overthrow his father Zeus, Perseus embarks on a mission to destroy Hades and save the city of Argos from the most despicable monster: the Kraken.

"Clash of the Titans" deserves credit for its sparse achievements. The visual presentation of the Kraken and its siege on Argos is engaging and magical, thrilling the audience as Perseus rides Pegasus through the Kraken's tentacles. The scorpion fight scene involving Perseus and his companions also enthralls viewers.

The casting for Hades and Zeus in this film is top-notch. However, they are also the most crippling aspects of the film. Neeson relies on his angry demeanor to carry his troubled and frustrated Zeus when, in fact, he never raises his voice or embarks on any extravagant battle with his brother or any other character. Fiennes is even more dreadful as he literally takes his Voldemort character from the "Harry Potter" series and recycles it. It is further disappointing and confusing that the Lord of the Underworld seems unable to breathe underwater. Growling may have served him better.

Worthington is a bore to watch. He wanders on the screen baffled and confused about his place in the world and pretends to be a misguided hero yet he clearly has the strength and capacity to save the city from peril.

Though hard to believe, and even harder to reveal, one of the most disappointing scenes in the movie is the fight between Perseus and Medusa, a demon with a head full of rattling snakes and a long snake-like body. As the myth is told, Medusa was caught having an affair with one of the Gods. As punishment, she was banished to a lone fortress and made so frighteningly ugly that she would never be looked upon again, thus granting her ability to turn any man into stone.

Critic's Conclusion: The sense of adventure and epic special effects in "Clash of the Titans" still exist in spite of the awful dialogue, but stale acting and a poorly-written script subsume the visual wonder of the film. As a remake, the film would have fared better were it just a little longer. Another battle or a longer climactic sequence may have saved the film, which runs just under two hours, from coming off as rushed and anti-climactic. It is highly unlikely that the target audience of young teenagers will notice the glaring flaws of this sadly-reinvented "300." Adults, on the other hand, would be more inclined to stake their hopes for an exciting thrill ride in something more copasetic. C

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