Saturday, April 3, 2010

"Clash of the Titans" occasionally fun cheese

Clash of the Titans (2010)
106 min., rated PG-13.
Grade: C +

These Hollywood days, remakes of classic movies are usually condemned for being sacrilegious, but what about movies that weren't "Citizen Kane" to begin with? Like, say, "Clash of the Titans" remade from the pre-CGI, Harry Hamlin-starring schlockapalooza of 1981. In simplest terms, it was a solidly fun B-movie. This “re-imagining” (or whatever you kids are calling it now on your Twitter) is still a cheesy, hokey spectacle of Greek mythology and monsters, even if it threatens to take itself too seriously. But hey, it's adequately entertaining chaos. 

The demigod Perseus (Sam Worthington), God Zeus's mortal son, was lost and adopted by a fisherman and his family. But when mankind of Mount Olympus declares war on the gods, his adoptive family is killed by Hades, King of the Underworld. Further punishment to the citizens of Argos is issued by Hades: sacrifice their princess, Andromeda (Alexa Davalos), or he'll unleash the the fury of the oversized sea monster called the Kraken. With ten days remaining until an eclipse marks Release the Kraken! Day, Perseus assembles a band of rebels—with the alluring Io (Gemma Arterton) at his side to utter all sorts of exposition—to quest out and defeat giant scorpions, blind witches, and Medusa. 

Within this cacophony of glossy, crummy CGI, "Clash of the Titans" often conjures up some of that old-school drive-in movie awe. A scorpion battle is exciting and the effects-aided Medusa (played by Natalia Vodianova) is formidably realized with her slithering anaconda body and angry snake braids, even if Ray Harryhausen's charmingly outdated F/X of the original are missed in their whole herky-jerky stop-motion nostalgia. (The movie was retro-fitted in post with the new-fangled 3-D format, but it looks drearily blurry and wasn't worth the bother, so moving on...) Sam Worthington has the physicality, fury, stoicism, and crew-cut of an action hero like a baby Russell Crowe; he's a handsome stone statue without a personality (which technically would come in handy when looking at Medusa squarely in the eyes). Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes do expert hamming. As Zeus, Neeson speaks in a Batman voice and literally sparkles with the most gleaming suit of armor, and Fiennes snakes around and does his Lord Voldemort voice as Hades. 

Much can be mocked here, the serious, captain-obvious dialogue included, but were B-movies ever about credible acting or sparkling dialogue? What matters most is the action and those slimy, scary monsters! With your lowest expectations set, one might get their Kraken on with this silly, unpretentious ball of provolone. 

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