Clash of the Titans (2010)

Release the Kraken!
Release the Kraken!
Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Gemma Atherton
The Setup: 
Greek heroes have to face various big monsters.

It's the old routine, this movie that looks terrible in the trailers and is a crass remake of a piece of crap and is something I definitely do NOT want to see—and end up going on opening weekend. My expectations were that this was going to be a total and utter piece of garbage, so I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised to find myself loving every minute of it. It's fun! But only once you pass that mental threshold where you accept that this may be the absolute stupidest thing you ever witnessed in your life.

So we open with a little history of Perseus, who was found by a simple fisherman in a coffin in the sea, and raised by him, imbued with simple values, etc. They're hanging out one day when these other dudes, for no reason explained to us, decide to topple this big statue of Zeus. This unleashes Hades [played by Ralph Fiennes] who comes up and smites Perseus and company just for the fun of it. Dear old adoptive dad dies, and Perseus is like ALL annoyed at the Gods. Meanwhile, on Mount Olympus, which looks like a leftover set from one of the Star Wars prequels, Zeus is chillin' in his super-shiny armor, pissed that the humans toppled his statue, the ungrateful wretches, and... blah, blah, who knows what. The floor of their chamber is a huge landscape with clouds, which is kind of a cool idea, but... I don't know if you recall the original film, which to me had one actually good thing about it: Their floor was a big game board and they would move around little figures, and it really conveyed the sense that the Gods were amusing themselves by manipulating the lives of these puny humans. Not really the case here. We see a little figure at one point, but the idea just isn't clearly expressed.

Anyway, there's something about Hades gaining power because the humans are super-narked at the Gods, and he shows up and tells them they have ten days to kill some princess or whatever or he's going to unleash the kraken on their city. So they set out on some quest to find some way to avoid that.

From here it's mostly giant monsters, all CGI. The original film was the last film featuring the work of stop-motion animator Ray Harryhausen, which was dated even when it came out, but was hand-made and charming. Here everything is CGI, and as usual conveys no weight or real danger. And for a while it's just a parade of one thing after another. Giant scorpions, witches on loan from Pan's Labyrinth, a giant, Medusa, etc. It all leads up to the big showdown with the kraken. It's all amusing enough, but this is one of those movies where every action scene is amped up to 11, and after awhile the film just has no overall shape. Medusa is no more or less threatening than the giant scorpions, and the kraken, which is supposed to be the big climactic terrifying thing, is no more impressive than Medusa. It's all just at one constant level until it ends.

Another thing, as you may have heard, is that this movie was made in 2-D, and a late decision was made to convert it to 3-D with computers (as opposed to shooting it with two cameras and PLANNING the shots for 3-D in the first place). This got the film a lot of negative attention, some a saying it looked so awful you should purposely seek out the 2-D version. I was surprised to find that the image was fairly clear, not muddied as some had said, but the late conversion [which seems to have been accomplished by some computer algorithim without any human quality-check] results in a funny effect: in close-ups, the rear of a person's head or their shoulders are thrown back further than they should be, and thus appear to be MUCH LARGER IN SIZE. So at times it seems that people have a larger twin standing just behind them, or the back of someone's hairdo is a large rock formation behind them. I found it terribly amusing, so it only added to my enjoyment, but I guess if you take your idiotic remakes of idiotic 70s sword-and-sandals pics seriously, if might seem an egregious insult. Other than that I thought everything looked fairly okay.

Hmmm, what else? I wouldn't go expecting to check out a lot of hot guys in skirts, as they all remiain demurely covered up. Some have been wondering at Sam Worthington's sudden ascent, saying that he has “no charisma,” but I don't thin that's true. He is very magnetic and watchable, just without putting forth a strong personality, which I think helps him be the big action star of the moment: he conveys pure, single-minded fortitude, and he can do it completely without irony. Which I think can make him appealing to big action directors, as someone with more personality might clash with the complicated mechanics of the special effects, whereas Worthington, being no frills and low-key, emerges as able to deliver a consistent performance despite the fractured way these things are filmed. What you miss out on is the possibility of a really incandescent, star performance that might make the whole thing really seem like something, but Worthington offers the sure thing of a guy you can place at the center who at least won't distract from the important thing, the action and special effects.

I don't think there's anything more of interest to say. Oh, except that there are a lot of giggle-worthy moments, chief among them when Neeson intones "Release the kraken!" If you go in expecting something incredibly silly that will amuse your eyeballs while you shove popcorn or sugar in your mouth, I think you'll be lined up for a good time. I would advise against expecting any sort of quality or anything other than pure idiocy. I just finished reading a serious review of this that was all pooh-poohing what trash it is and how very dull the lover of serious literature will find it and I thought "Dude, looks like the joke is on YOU."

Should you watch it: 

If you like your movies dumb but fun.