You are Not Worthy

Clash of the Titans (2010)

While the 1981 Clash of the Titans is not a perfect film, it is a lot of fun. It has a cheesy charm to it, but the special effects (for the era it arrived) were pretty impressive. Driven by Ray Harryhausen, the tactice, stop-motion animation really was effective in that time before CGI became the only way to do special effects. Those charms hold up even now, and the film acts as a master class in effects of old, while also being a pretty good adaptation of the myth of Perseus and Andromeda.

None of that, though, really applies to the 2010 remake, also called Clash of the Titans. Where the original film at least tried to adapt the original myth, creating soemthing that was true to the source material, Clash 2010 acts like a fantasy mad-libs. It has less to do with the original film (or the myth before) and function more like Waner Bros. trying to create another Lord of the Rings-style fantasy epic. It's so disconnected from the original film, so unlikethe actual story its based on, that WB could basically have called it anything they wanted. It's essentially just a very pretty swords-and-sandals epic without much meat to sustain it, a sad legacy, frankly, for the original story.

The film opens with the discovery of Perseus (played as a boy by Otto Farrant, and as an adult by Sam Worthington). The young babe was thrown into the ocean, in a coffin, along with his mother who had been an unwilling consort of Zeus (Liam Neeson), who came to her in the guise of her husband, King Acrisius (Jason Flemyng). Instead of acknowledging that his wife had thought he was bedding her husband, he punishes er for Zeus's actions. Both her and her quickly born child are thrown to the ocean. She dies, he lives (somehow), and a fisherman (Pete Postlethwaite), and he raises the boy as his own. Years later, while on a fishing expedition, Perseus and his adoptive family are unlucky enough to cross paths with Hades (Ralph Fiennes). Hades has come to Argos to punish the men for knocking over a statue of Zeus. He kills them all, then (for no good reason) attacks the fishing boat and kills everyone on it, save Perseus.

Our hero washes up on the shore of Argos and is taken to the main castle where he witnesses the blasphemy of the royals. King Kepheus (Vincent Regan) and Queen Cassiopeia (Polly Walker) proclaim themselves better than the gods, and that their daughter, Andromeda (Alexa Davalos), to be more fair than any goddess around. This gains the ire of Hades, who curses Cassiopeia and then states that the people of Argos have ten days to prepare for the Kraken. It will either kill them all, or the princess if they willingly sacrifice her. The only one not swayed is Perseus, although he wants little to do with anything involving the gods. Still, he's conscripted into the journey and, with a group of assigned men -- and one woman, Io (Gemma Arterton), who has acted as a protector for Perseus his whole life -- Perseus has to set out to find a way to save Andromeda before she's eaten by the beast of the sea.

Although the broad strokes of the story seem to line up with what came before -- Perseus, a city that tempted fate, the fair Andromeda -- the devil (or Hades) is in the details and its in how the film goes about fleshing out the story that it travels way off the beaten path. The first and biggest change is that Perseus is a giant dick. He's supposed to be our hero, the guy that everything hinges on, but he's the biggest, whiniest, most unlikable unwilling hero I've seen in some time. He's just obnoxious.

Bear in mind that in the previous film (and the original myth), Perseus goes out looking for adventure because he's a hero (even if he doesn't call himself that) and that's what heroic types do. But here, Perseus doesn't want anything to do with anything. He deines his obvious demi-god status, he refuses to help save Andromeda, he gets the men following him into trouble again and again, and in the end, everyone around him dies because they have to actually step up and do his job since Perseus is terrible at being a hero. That's not just bad myth building, that's bad writing in general.

Not helping matters is that Perseus is played by Sam Worthington, one of the most boring actors to come out of the 2000s. For a time there, Worthington was in a number of big-budget films -- Avatar, Terminator: Salvation, Man on a Ledge -- and invariably he was the worst part of all of them. He's boring, lacking the ability to emote or show anything that stoic disinterest. He brings that same lack of ability to Clash of the Titans, failing to craft Perseus into anyone we could possibly care about at all.

That sucks because there's a whole ton of actors in this film worth watching: Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Gemma Arterton, Jason Flemyng, Mads Mikkelsen, Liam Cunningham, Nicholas Hoult. This film has an absolute murderer's row of great performers, some of whom would have been far better choices for the lead than Worthington. Of special note is Gemma Arterton as Io, the love interest for Perseus in this film, who manages to sell absolutely volcanic chemistry with the walking slab of beef steak despite getting nothing from the actor in response. She should be in everything, not Worthington.

You may have also noticed that Io is the love interest here, not Andromeda. Despite the original myth being all aboutPerseus saving Andromeda, the woman he loved, so the two could be married and rule over their kingdoms, the film ditches all of that. Io is a character from actual myth, but if you go back and look into it, she's the great-great-many times removed-grandmother to Perseus. Making her into the love interest for our hero is just a tad icky when you think about it. And that's not the only place the movie plays fast and loose with the myth. You could find plenty of other things -- adding in djinns, which are from a different regional mythology; tunring Hades into the villain; adding in a subplot of religious zealots -- that the film decided, "naw, bruh, we don't need to adapt the myth properly."

All the changes, though, don't really amount to much. By making the quest "Perseus fights to save a princess to he can defeat an immortal that can't really die" all the thrust is taken out of the narrative. We know Perseus will be successful because, despite his uselessness, he clearly is wearing plot armor throughout the movie (to the point the film even underlines it by having him literally survive attacks that should kill him), all so he can... what? Save a town he doesn't care about, not marry the girl he saved, and cast Hades back into Hades where he'll like Hades once again. Oh and he gets to bone is great-great-grandmother. That's... well, that's pretty stupid.

The one bright point in all of this is that the film is at least pretty. Although you can't beat the tactile quality of Harryhausen's original effects, the CGI in this movie does at least look pretty good. It's detailed, it has pretty luster, and very rarely does it look fake (one Medusa notwithstanding). There are films that have botched their CGI way worse than this film, so if we can't have good, practical effects, at least this film did the best it could with what it had.

Still, a pretty film is nothing without a good story, and in that respect Clash of the Titans is lacking. It's a glossy film with a void sitting at the middle, reducing it to a casual watch you'll probably never bother with again. Yes, it made a gob of money at the Box Office -- $493 Mil against a $125 Mil budget, good enough to warrant a sequel -- but now, a decade past, no one seems to care. It was flash in the pan, pretty but forgettable the second it was done. It lacks, simply put, the staying power of the original.