Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Movie Review: Clash of the Titans (2010)

This movie is a remake of a 1981 film of the same name. And just like that movie, neither features any of the mythical Titans. In Greek mythology the very first deities were the Prôtogenoi.[1] Two of them, Gaia and Uranus, produced twelve offspring.[2] These twelve and some of their offspring [3] were considered the Titans. They were overthrown by some of their descendents, now known as the Younger Gods or Olympians.[4] This is called the Titanomachy. The word Titanomachy has been variously interpreted as "war of the gods", "war in heaven", "battle of the Titans", "battle of the gods", "the Titan war", etc.[5] In other words "clash of the Titans". However, this film, like its predecessor, is a loose (and sometimes fanciful) interpretation of the life of Perseus, who waged war against the Olympians, not the Titans.

My verdict: Both movies were lacking in characterization or a cohesive plot and spent most of their efforts on crafting the special effects—the 1981 film employed Ray Harryhausen (his last film [6]) while the 2010 film employed computer animators. Perseus quickly acquired the skills he needed—even though up until that point he'd only ever been a fisherman. Even with the gloss that he was able to do this because he was a demi-god, it didn't sit well with me. I didn't really feel like he grew as a character or that something important was learned by the end. There are two potential love interests for Perseus—and they even filmed separate scenes where he ends up with one or the other—but the one he eventually does end up with is quite arbitrary. I felt like some of the casting was dismal. Ralph Fiennes played Hades as Voldemort with hair. Liam Neeson just didn't work for me as Zeus. The cyborg guy didn't make any sense to me (but I guess it doesn't matter who the actor was). And I'm not sure why Perseus was the only man without long, lanky hair. Or why he had an Australian accent.[7] They jump on the bandwagon for mispronouncing Kraken [8], which I found annoying. Not everything was negative: there was some great cinematography and the action scenes were intense. Despite my complaints, this was an okay movie to watch once.


[1] See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greek primordial gods.

[2] Coeus, Crius, Cronus, Hyperion, Iapetus, Mnemosyne, Oceanus, Phoebe, Rhea, Tethys, Theia, and Themis. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Titan (mythology).

[3] Asteria, Astraeus, Atlas, Eos, Epimetheus, Helios, Leto, Menoetius, Metis, Pallas, Perses, Prometheus, and Selene. See ibid.

[4] Aphrodite, Apollo, Ares, Artemis, Athena, Demeter, Dionysus, Hephaestus, Hera, Hermes, Poseidon, and Zeus. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twelve Olympians. Hades is usually excluded from this list since he dwelt in the underworld, not on Mount Olympus. However, he did take part in the war against the Titans.

[5] See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Titanomachy.

[6] See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clash of the Titans (1981 film)#Behind the scenes.

[7] Except that the actor is Australian—but why couldn't he harmonize his accent with that of the rest of the actors? Isn't that what he was being paid to do—pretend he's someone else (i.e. someone without an Australian accent)?

[8] i.e. they pronounce it CRACK-en when it's properly CRAY-ken or CRAH-ken (mouse over each for IPA).

Image attributions:

Cellini's Perseus with the Head of Medusa photographed by Dennis Mojado, available at http://photography.mojado.com/archives/2004/09/21/medusa beheaded.php.

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