Monday, April 5, 2010

Olympus Calling

Clash of the Titans is a movie. That's the best thing I can say about it.

No, I take that back. I expected very little from this remake and that was exactly what I received. It's no less predictable than I thought it would be and no dumber than I expected. Expectations were very low and those expectations were met. I saw it on a rainy, cold Friday and found it a mildly acceptable way to pass the time on such a day. Had I seen it the next day when the weather was warmer and the sun was out, I would have lamented that I had spent a day so perfectly suited for outdoor activity inside a dark theater watching...this.

You may remember the plot of the 1981 original with Harry Hamlin as the demigod Perseus and Laurence Olivier as his father, Zeus. It was a pretty straightforward adventure film with Ray Harryhausen's stop-motion effects creating some pretty decent monster fights. Today pretty much the entire movie takes place inside some guy's Macintosh. We also get a lot of preaching about gods and men and which one is better in this new version so, you know, there's that.

The movie opens with a fisherman finding baby Perseus in the ocean and adopting him. Skipping ahead a bit, we see the grownup Perseus (Sam Worthington) who has followed in the footsteps of his adopted father and entered the craptastic existence of an ancient Greek fisherman. After pulling up an empty net, Perseus' dad starts ranting about how they really come up short in their relationship with the gods. They find out he's not the only one who feels that way when they sail to the city of Argos to find soldiers tearing down the massive statue of Zeus. The god Hades rises from the underworld and releases harpies or furies or some godawful monstery thing that flies and wipes out the soldiers. Unfortunately, Perseus' family end up as innocent victims in this whole clash.

The Argosians have decided to starve the gods of their prayers until they invent the iPad. Or something. Anyway, they're pissed at the gods so all their temples and symbols and such are being desecrated. I have to admit something here. If I was a god and my mortal followers started pissing on my temples and skull fucking my statues like the people of Argos did, I'd probably want to make them pay too and I'm a nice guy. The Greek gods, on the other hand, were some of the most notoriously dickish supreme beings in the history of the planet. What did the Argosians expect them to do? Apparently they did not expect Hades to appear in their throne room, kill the king and queen and say that they either sacrifice Princess Andromeda (Alexa Davalos) in ten days or he will release the Kraken and destroy the city. Why they did not expect that is beyond me as that is precisely what I would have expected the Greek gods to do but, then again, I saw the original 1981 movie.

Anyhoo, Perseus and a band of tough guys all go trouncing off to find a way to kill the Kraken. Joining them is Io (Gemma Arterton), a woman who refused the advances of a god and was cursed with eternal youth which, apparently, is a bad thing. There seems to be a lot of "blame the rape victim" mentality throughout Greek legends. Perseus himself was born because Zeus got pissed at a king so he took the king's shape and knocked up his wife. The king then killed his wife and thought he'd killed the half-god child. That's not as bad as the story of Medusa though. She was raped by Poseidon on the floor of Athena's temple and Athena, supposedly the goddess of wisdom, punished her by making her so hideous that any living creature that looked at her would turn to stone. As I said, the Greek gods were dicks.

What have we learned from Clash of the Titans? We've learned not to piss off beings with the temperaments of spoiled children who can bend reality to their will. We've learned that it's never a good thing when someone says, "Release the Kraken." Not to give too much away, but we've learned that when your dad, the king of the gods, gives you a magic sword, you shouldn't be too proud to take it. And finally, we've learned that when a movie from the 80s about Greek god gets remade as a dark, preachy movie loaded with CGI and (from what I hear) crap 3-D effects, you should stay the hell away unless you have nothing better to do. In that case, just don't expect too much and you'll be fine.

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