We all know that Hollywood is still worshipping at the altar of CGI; that bloodless, ephemeral, lightweight form of special effects which is peculiarly unengaging and lacking in any sense of reality, weight or substance. The original CLASH OF THE TITANS (1981) was not what I would call a classic; however, at least the "dynamation" of the creatures by Ray Harryhausen has a feeling of reality and weight which CGI cannot match. Harryhausen's stop motion figures also have their own unique personalities which ALL of the CGI effects creatures in the remake sorely lack. Can it really be possible that nearly ten years after Peter Jackson's LORD OF THE RINGS Hollywood is STILL lagging so far behind in the CGI department. I would liken the CGI creatures in CLASH OF THE TITANS (and most of the other recent Hollywood blockbusters, for that matter) as shadowy, insubstantial creatures that have only slightly more interaction with the live actors than rear-screen projection monsters in KILLERS FROM SPACE! But enough about the woeful CGI debacle. . .
The acting. This is another problem Hollywood seems to have and that is they can't seem to find anyone who has a personality. Their are only two "name" actors in CLASH: those being Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes. Both men have done fine work in the past. While Neeson is not anywhere near as somnambulistic as he was in 1999's STAR WARS: THE PHANTOM SCREENPLAY, he is not much better here. Fiennes does a slightly better job only in that he hams it up a little (and God knows this movie needs SOME life pumped into it). It's disconcerting, however, to speculate that Fiennes may have stolen Anders Hove's vocal performance as Radu in the SUBSPECIES series of films. Our "nominal" hero of the film is Sam Worthington (as Perseus) and he is as bland, lifeless and lacking in any spark of personality as he was in that other yawnfest called AVATAR. Granted, actors nowadays are pretty much second thoughts in movies of this kind and the special effects are meant to carry the film. However, as I've mentioned, the not-so-special effects certainly DON'T carry the film so we would like to see at least a couple actors stand out. And this brings me to my next point: there are a passle of guys hanging around Perseus. Apparently they're from the army of the city threatened with destruction. I'm not going to go into the actors who played them or the characters' names or anything like that because all during the movie I never knew their names or if, in fact, they were meant to be anything but interchangeable stick figures. So that's pretty much that.
The director is Louis Leterrier: the "household name" who brought us the underwhelming THE INCREDIBLE HULK a couple years ago. Another needless remake since the 2003 Ang Lee HULK was lightyears better. But that's another tale. Anyway, Leterrier doesn't seem to know how to a) tell a story properly, b) instill any sense of threat or suspense or, indeed, any involvement on the audience's part whatsoever. He has a frequent habit of lapsing into handheld camera for no particular reason; I suppose the cameraman was a drunken Spartan with burrs in his sandals. By the end of the film when the final credits ran, I was still waiting for the movie to start. Unfortunately, it never did. After seeing the events of the movie unfold before me, my overwhelming response was "So what". And oh, the look of the film. It certainly doesn't help when the overwhelming colour scheme of the movie is brown, brown and brown. If you're a fan of mud, you should love it! But for the rest of us, the unrelenting sameness of the film's look is extremely tiring.
Now about the story. Or screenplay. Or whatever. If you have even a passing familiarity with Greek mythology, this movie will annoy the living shit out of you. Someone please tell me why Hollywood seems to think that a story which has stood the test of time for over 2000 years needs to be screwed with. Now, if an improvement is made then I'm all for it. Unfortunately, every "alteration" in the Perseus myth is for the worse and, even more to the point, doesn't make any sense in the movie itself. Let's not get into the fact that they portray Hades (Ralph Fiennes) like he's the Dark Lord Sauron when Hades was never evil (at least no more evil than any of the other Greek gods). Let's not discuss how Perseus is made to be some anti-gods iconoclast who hates the Olympians (even though he is the son of Zeus) but, at the same time, takes aid from Zeus. (Huh?!?). Let's not discuss how the giant monster scorpions are fought for about 5 minutes and then spend the rest of the movie being ridden around by our Greeks like Shetland ponies (!). Do we need mention how Medusa has the face of a Valley Girl, apparently? Is it necessary to go on about the stupidly conceived "power struggle" which finds Hades trying to "overthrow" Zeus in order to . . . what I wonder? Who knows. He's already Lord of the Underworld and the dominions of Zeus, Poseidon and Hades were amicably agreed to by the three brothers eons before this point. Oh, and there's that little thing about Hades not being evil in the first place. There can be no real explanation as well for Zeus' "knight in shining armour" appearance because, as we all know, this kind of armour was the latest fashion in ancient Greece. And finally, don't ask me why Pegasus is there since the famous flying horse doesn't really feature in the plot. If all of these little plot points seem to you to read like a hot mess, then you have a vague idea of what sitting through the movie will be like: you will be shaking your head and mouthing "What?!?" about every five minutes or so since there isn't any real internal logic in the film itself.
I went into CLASH OF THE TITANS hoping I'd like it (especially since the original 1981 version was, well, flawed). However, the film was just sooooooo dull and uninvolving that I ended up just getting more and more annoyed. Hollywood has once again managed to turn a rip-roaring adventure tale into a CGI yawn. The viewer would be much better served by passing up this bit of cinematic styrofoam and seeking out last year's History Channel dvd of the documentary series "CLASH OF THE GODS" in which many different myths (including the Perseus tale in the episode concerning Medusa) are depicted with style, artfulness and a great deal more fun, adventure and imagination. How badly does THAT bode for the creative bankruptcy of Hollywood's "Dream Factory" these days when a TV documentary series on the History Channel can out-fun a major Hollywood blockbuster. I hear there's a CLASH OF THE TITANS 2 in the pipeline. If you go see THAT one, you deserve whatever dreck you get.