Apr 11, 2010

Film Review: Clash of the Titans [2010] [3D]

DIR: Louis Leterrier
CAST: Sam Worthington, Mads Mikkelsen, Gemma Arterton,
Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes

Before we go any further, here’s the first thing to say about Clash of the Titans [2D in selected theatres]. It’s not in 3D. That’s absolutely, unambiguously, true for about 75% of the film, take your glasses off and you will see that the post conversion process which has been hurriedly done to allow this shoddy film to pretend that it’s in 3D had been applied to barely a quarter of the shots, and in those scant moments in which the 3D is utilised it is absolutely terrible. There’s no illusion of depth here, just three very distinct planes; foreground, middle ground and background. Director Leterrier has already compared the 3D effect to looking his film through a viewmaster, and frankly that’s being kind. It’s hazy, dark thanks to the 3D glasses and distractingly badly implemented. It detracts from the action scenes in particular, because of the technical problem that 3D still hasn’t solved; the fact that fast motion is often extremely blurry and indistinct. This is NOT a 3D film, in any sense.

Talking of things that aren’t three dimensional; ladies and gentlemen… Sam Worthington. Over the past 12 months Worthington has gone from being a nobody to Hollywood’s newest anointed action star. He combines half the talent of Arnold Schwarzennegger with none of the presence; he’s simply one of the blandest actors on screen right now. There’s nothing interesting either about Worthington or about his character Perseus. The only diverting aspect of his ‘performance’ is noting how wildly his accent skips around the globe, often crossing continents between words. Sometimes he’s broadly Australian (so much so that it’s a surprise he doesn’t refer to Gemma Arterton’s Io as “that gorgeous Shiela that keeps following me”) sometimes he unconvincingly attempts American, and sometimes, yet more risibly, British. The man has no ear for either tone or emotion in language. When he’s supposed to be angry (as he is for most of this film) it sounds more like he’s concentrating REALLY hard on ending an especially difficult bout of constipation and when he’s trying to convey warmth he just sounds bored, as if he’s reading from cue cards. It’s a performance so bad it almost approaches parody.

It’s hard to really blame Worthington for his terrible performance though, because the screenplay is an absolute trainwreck (involving, by the way, precisely no Titans) and nobody, with the exception of the effortlessly awesome Mads Mikkelsen, comes out of this thing with their dignity intact. I’m not sure whether I’ve seen the original Clash of the Titans, and certainly if I have my memories of it are lost among the thousands of other movies I’ve seen, but I understand that Gemma Arterton’s character Io is newly created for this version. This may explain why she’s so completely bereft of purpose. She seems to be some sort of oracle, cursed by the gods with agelessness (when you look like a 23 year old Gemma Arterton, I’m not sure that’s much of a curse) and she’s apparently been watching over Perseus his whole life. What’s really unclear is whether she’s real, only once does she interact with any other character, in a brief exchange with Mikkelsen which is so perfunctory and pointless that I could easily believe it’s a continuity error. So is she some spirit guide for Perseus, is she a real person or is she some supernatural being somewhere between those two states? The film doesn’t care; as far as it’s concerned Io’s job is to be gorgeous (check) and to spew raw exposition every ten minutes. Arterton does her best, but the dialogue clunks horribly and sounds more like readings from a five year olds book of myths than dialogue.

Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes are way too good for this movie. They both stand around in ludicrous wigs and beards, spouting raw exposition (roughly 90% of this film’s dialogue is exposition) and neither advances beyond a single note. Neeson bellows as Zeus, Fiennes hisses as Hades and Danny Huston looks vaguely embarrassed, and says one line, as Poseidon. Credit where due though, Mads Mikkelsen, who treats the film with the contempt it so richly deserves and seems barely to be trying, is so charismatic that even though he’s half asleep he steals the film and the strikingly lovely Alexa Davlos is well cast and gives a decent performance in a very small part as Andromeda.

The thing is, these things - the performances, the script - are crap because the film simply doesn’t care about them, it’s not about those things, it’s about loud noises, CGI and fighting. Louis Letterier is becoming, like his star, Hollywood’s action movie go to guy, and while his work is certainly more intelligible than that of Michael Bay, he’s no great shakes as a director. The effects aren’t bad (though the poor 3D does the integration of the CGI absolutely no favours), but there is little imagination in Leterrier’s shot selection and the action scenes never really excite. Part of this, especially in the scene in Medusa’s lair, is also down to the fact that the 3D glasses darken the film, sometimes to the point of obscuring action, but it’s really because Perseus comes across as a brat. At one point Mikkelsen points out just how many people are dying for Perseus’ petulant need for revenge, Perseus petulantly ignores him… My hero. This means that the hero isn’t heroic, the story isn’t engaging because we don’t give a tuppenny fuck what happens to any of these not quite characters (and also, frankly, because every beat of the film is predictable) and the CGI, while it might have been impressive to begin with, is very poorly served by the 3D conversion process. That’s not to say that Clash of the Titans will be good in 2D; it will still be boring, have exposition in place of character, and feature risible performances from almost the entire cast, in short it will be shit, but at least it will be shit you wont have to strain your eyes looking at.


  1. Aw, I was actually gonna see Clash of the Titans but all these bad reviews have me thinking otherwise. As for Sam Worthington...I have no idea how he's getting all these roles when all critics do is talk shit about him and he doesn't display one tenth of the charisma of previous Hollywood action heroes. I generally don't like to diss actors, but this one has recieved so much luck I can't not be pissed off.

    Also, I love the phrase 'tupenny fuck' - thanks for using it.

  2. Also, I love the phrase 'tupenny fuck' - thanks for using it.

    Yeah, I'm fond of it too. You're welcome