Zeus thunders onto the 3D screen
Dir: Louis Leterrier
Starring: Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Jason Flemyng, Gemma Arterton, Alexa Davalos, Pete Postlethwaite, Mads Mikkelsen
Who doesn’t love a good old Harryhausen film? Pioneering some of the most impressive special effects of his time, epic filmmaker Harryhausen is responsible for some of the great fantasy classics- especially those based in myth. Using groundbreaking stop-motion animation, Harryhausen was behind films ranging from The 7th Voyage of Sinbad to, of course, The Clash of the Titans. Even today the best way to spend a Sunday afternoon is to watch some ancient Greek heroes fight off some of Harryhausen’s stop-motion monsters. Following the continuing success of modern fantasy epics, The Clash of the Titans has now received new 3D interpretation from Louis Leterrier- the director of The Incredible Hulk.
Leterrier’s remade Clash of the Titans has been through a fairly long production. Beginning in 2002 the process has been occasionally bumpy along the way with several script rewrites and a change of director. On top of that the studio pushed Leterrier for a 3D conversion after the success of Avatar and it was implemented in post-production.
Rather than a direct remake of the original film Leterrier has taken the classic story and upped the scale. Set in the same background of Ancient Greece, The Clash of the Titans 3D opens with a brief introduction to the somewhat warped version of Greek myth that is used for the backdrop of the film. From here the pace picks up speed and keeps going throughout the story.
The film follows Perseus, the son of both Zeus and a mortal woman, and his struggle against the gods. Humanity is rebelling against their old masters and Hades has asked Zeus to allow him to punish the upstart mortals, a situation that is exacerbated when Queen Cassiopeia compares the beauty of her daughter to that of the gods. Hades curses the city of Argos to destruction by the Kraken if the Princess, Andromeda, is not sacrificed.
Perseus soon finds himself setting out to find a way to destroy the Kraken and render Hades’ threat null. From here on the story has Perseus crashing through obstacles ranging from giant scorpions to blind witches in an effort to track down the head of Medusa, the key to bringing the Kraken down. Along the way Perseus is given tools to help him complete his quest, ranging from a magic lightsaber styled sword to the winged steed Pegasus.
The cast behind Clash has a few impressive names to tout. Mighty Zeus is performed by Liam Neeson and Hades, lord of the underworld, is portrayed by Ralph Fiennes. Perseus himself has Avatar’s Sam Worthington to bring him to the screen. Sadly Liam Neeson isn’t given much of an opportunity to shine (well except in that sparkly costume of his) as the character of Zeus seems to have been written in a flurry of confusion over whether he should be a tyrant or a benevolent but misled god. Rather than actually seeming conflicted over his treatment of humanity, Zeus seems to flit back and forth between cruelty and concern for his creation.
Ralph Fiennes, on the other hand, creates a ghostly and deceitful character in Hades. Very much the villain of the piece, Hades also receives a lot of attention from the special effects department. The visual effects throughout the film are reasonably impressive but everything goes downhill when it comes to the 3D technology involved. Likely as a result of the post-production application of 3D, the film lacks the same wow factor found in other recent releases and if you take your glasses off in the theatre you’ll notice little difference in the image. By placing itself in the same arena as other 3D films out at the moment The Clash of the Titans has set high expectations that, unfortunately, it doesn’t meet.
The final and perhaps most problematic issue facing Clash of the Titans 3D is the irregular pace of the plot. Moving quickly, presumably to keep the action going, the film doesn’t take the time to establish supporting characters or the world they live in. While Perseus seems to care about his allies, it’s hard for us to; even the romance subplot seems to come out of nowhere and evaporate just as quickly.
In fairness to The Clash of the Titans 3D it does provide a fun experience with a strong array of unpleasant fantastical creatures (although it does nothing to add to the original collection of toothy menaces). Sadly this isn’t quite enough to make up for the lacklustre 3D effects, poorly developed characters and lopsided pace.Clash makes for an enjoyable but ultimately unremarkable experience. At least we can be thankful that Bubo the owl is only on screen for a short homage.
- Fun, monster filled action
- Ralph Fiennes as Hades
- Good special effects and action scenes
- A rushed plot that doesn’t give you enough time to like the characters
- Post-production applied sub par 3D
- Lacks the heart of the original