Back when I was about eleven or twelve, my favorite computer game was Ensemble Studios’ strategy title “Age of Mythology.” In a nutshell, the game allows players to control armies of mythological creatures from Greek, Norse, and Egyptian folklore, pitting them against each other in a battle to the death. I remember thinking how cool it would be if someone eventually made a movie like the game.
That day has arrived.
“Clash of the Titans”, a remake of the 1981 fantasy-adventure film, is an ultra-violent, pulse-pounding, stupendously brainless mashup of classical mythology. As a longtime fan of films that involve gigantic CGI monsters blowing up the screen, “Clash of the Titans” was one of my must-see movies this year. After a busy few weeks, Pete and I decided to indulge in a little mindless action this afternoon and see if it was as good as the previews made it look.
The verdict? It’s exactly the movie the trailers depict – no more, no less. And that’s both good and bad.
The plot follows Perseus (the emotion-devoid Sam Worthington, best known for his recent role in “Avatar”), the son of Zeus and a mortal woman. Angered that humanity is asserting its independence from the gods, Zeus – egged on by his power-hungry brother, Hades (played by Ralph Fiennes, better known as “Lord Voldemort”) – decides to unleash a legion of underworld monsters. His goal? To drive humans to their knees in prayer. (I’ll address the obvious worldview implications a little later on).
After the arrogant Queen Cassiopeia announces that her daughter Andromeda is more beautiful than Aphrodite, Hades promptly shows up to deliver a sinister promise: unless Andromeda sacrifices her own life, he will unleash the monstrous Kraken to destroy the entire city. Perseus decides to take matters into his own hands by killing the Kraken himself.
Easier said than done.
In his quest to obtain Medusa’s head (the only weapon that can defeat the Kraken), Perseus and his companions (who, with the exception of one character, are pretty much designated targets for unpleasant deaths) face off with a whole horde of mythological beasties. Among them are giant scorpions, eyeless witches, djinn (seemingly cribbed from “The Arabian Nights”), and a horribly disfigured warrior who happens to be Perseus’ sort-of-stepfather.
The movie is a slam-bang action extravaganza from start to finish. It never pretends to be sophisticated or intelligent – it’s all about swords, big monsters, and warriors roaring unintelligible things. (It never quite sinks to the stupidity level of last summer’s “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen,” however). And the action sequences are undeniably explosive – the final battle with the Kraken alone is worth the $8 price of admission. It’s violent, mindless, and remarkably entertaining.
From a worldview standpoint, there are a few considerations. Anyone who’s seen the trailer probably remembers the provocative teaser line “D**N THE GODS!” That irreverence is carried over into the movie as a whole – the gods are universally incompetent, disinterested, and deserving of revolt. And while that may be true in terms of the original Greek myths, a few of the rebellious statements made by Perseus come pretty close to swipes at the real-world God. The message of the movie is decidedly humanistic: man is completely capable of achieving heroic things by himself, and God doesn’t even really need to be involved.
But to be perfectly honest, I don’t think the filmmakers were intending to make an apologetic for atheism. While there’s definitely an undercurrent of anti-God feeling, philosophy takes a backseat to explosive stunts and big battle scenes. This movie is about monsters – the bigger the better – and the designers obviously spent most of their time making the city-size Kraken look phenomenal.
As expected, there’s a lot of violence (mostly bloodless). Countless soldiers and monsters are sliced, stabbed, drowned, crushed, burned, or turned to stone…but the PG-13 rating is never called into question. There are a few profanities, and one very brief suggestive moment, but no other offensive material. Anyone who’s seen “Lord of the Rings” won’t be seriously disturbed by “Clash of the Titans.”
So is it worth your money?
It was worth mine. But then again, I like this sort of thing. If fantasy monsters and sustained swordfights aren’t your thing…well, Nicholas Sparks’ “The Last Song” is playing in theaters right now…
I’ll stick with the Kraken.
An absolutely mindless, yet marvelously entertaining, fantasy action film.
Normalized Score: 3.4