'Clash of the Titans' serves up fun with men in tunics

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The Kracken has been released. Let us now ponder the merits of this remake of an epic plucked from the early days of stop-motion animation, when the monsters of Greek mythology were crudely animated puppets and moved with an unconvincing lack of fluidity.

Louis Leterrier’s slick, CGI-driven effort, transferred to 3-D as a post-production afterthought (and it shows), is generally faithful to producer Ray Harryhausen’s 1981 original, even poking respectful fun at that movie’s goofier inventions. (Remember the mechanical owl?)

It’s silly, overblown and thoroughly disposable, a fitting tribute to its cinematic roots.

That’s a compliment, albeit slightly backhanded.

The new “Clash of the Titans,” starring Sam Worthington (“Avatar”) as Perseus, the demigod destined to save mankind from the wrath of the Olympians, is not likely to be confused with art.

But if the idea of men in tight-fitting tunics battling hideous underworld beasts strikes your fancy, you could do worse.

Their adversaries include giant scorpions, sprung from the boiling black blood of Hades himself; the serpentine Medusa, whose dreaded gaze turns flesh to stone; and, of course, the Kracken, a sea monster of towering size and unsurpassed strength.(Cerberus, the three-headed hound who guards the gates of hell, is noticeably absent.)

It falls to Perseus and his mortal followers to defeat them all en route to a showdown with Hades (Ralph Fiennes), the ghoulish brother of Zeus (Liam Neeson).

Displeased by the insolence of his mortal creations, Zeus has sanctioned a strike against humanity. Hades is eager to lead the charge.

The movie is not without a sense of humor, or an appreciation of camp. Both are indispensable when it comes to material like this. Nobody is going to see “Clash of the Titans” for its dialogue, which is numbingly pedestrian, or the depth of its characters, who fall into two categories: noble and despicable.

Neeson, comically bathed in ethereal light as he surveys the chaos unfolding beneath the clouds, is a natural as the stern god-in-chief, while Worthington plays his half-mortal son with a knowing wink and a refreshing sense of fun. (Remember, it’s only the fate of mankind at stake.)

Even taken purely as spectacle, “Clash of the Titans” is less than breathtaking. Yet that, too, is part of its charm, its less-than-special effects suggesting the simplicity of an earlier day, and its cheesy melodrama quaintly over the
top.

It has no aspirations to be anything more than the popcorn movie it is, and for those amiably disposed to the genre, that should be enough.

MOVIE REVIEW
Clash of the Titans

Starring Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Jason Flemyng, Gemma Arterton
Written by Travis Beacham, Phil Hay, Matt Manfredi
Directed by Louis Leterrier
Rated PG-13
Running time 1 hour 58 minutes

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