||Knight at the Movies: Clash of the Titans; sci-fi marathon
by Richard Knight, Jr.
This article shared 3667 times since Wed Apr 7, 2010
"Find and fulfill your destiny," Sir Laurence Olivier intoned in his precise British accent in the junky 1981 Clash of the Titans to his son: the sexy, toga-draped Harry Hamlin, as the demigod Perseus. Hamlin's Perseus, naïve but a quick study, was helped in his quest for glory and the hand of the sexy maiden Andromeda ( slated to be sacrificed to the sea monster known as the kraken ) by gifts from the Godsa sword, shield and a mechanical owl. Along the way, various monsters, realized in part by the renowned low-rent special effects of Ray Harryhausen, tried to prevent Perseus from completing his task.
Now Perseusthis time in the personage of Avatar star Sam Worthingtonand company are back in a new big-budget remake of the Greek myth. But the screenwriters for this Clash, helmed by hot action director Louis Letterier ( Transporter 2, The Incredible Hulk ) make a critical misstep. By re-imagining Perseus as a hotheadmad at the gods and caught between the power struggle between Zeus ( Liam Neeson, filling in for Olivier ) and Hades ( played with the same raspy voice as Voldemort, by Ralph Fiennes ) Letterier diminishes half the fun ( and all the prattle about humans not needing the gods is a drag on the picture, too ) . We're left with a series of mostly flat, familiar, effects-driven battle sequences ( the Medusa segment is a good one, though ) intercut with Perseus and company trekking across rocky terrain, shot on high and amplified by a booming musical score. ( The Lord of the Rings trilogy is an obvious reference point throughout. )
Perseus gets a case of the hots when he encounters Io ( Gemma Arterton ) . "Ease your storm" she says to cool his ardor, and the big laugh that greets the line points out a dual problem with the film. Besides being too serious and not filled with enough cheesy lines or juicy characters ( the blue-eyed tree-like creature with the bark skin being an exception ) , its biggest mistake is that it's not sexy. One of the inherent pleasures of the Harryhausen's Greek mythology pictures ( Jason and the Argonauts and Clash of the Titans ) is that everything, including the monsters, had a subconscious sexinessa hallmark of Greek mythology that Harryhausen understood, but that is sadly missing in this remake ( and with hunks Mads Mikkelsen, Jason Flemyng and Nicholas Hoult onboard, that's a crime ) .
The essential problem is that Worthington, Hollywood's latest action-hero darling who has previously headlined Terminator Salvation and Avatar, is literally dead wood on screen. You don't for a moment believe that Worthington is turned on by Andromeda or, really, by anything. Worthington acts with an intense glower or a passive glower, cracking a smile once in a whileand that's about it. Subtlety and shading has so far eluded him onscreen ( it was less noticeable in the James Cameron picture because he's a computer special effect for most of that movie ) . Though he's quickly become the action producers go to guy he has so far shown none of the personality or physicality to connect with audience ala Hugh Jackman, Daniel Craig and, to a lesser degree, Christian Bale. "He may be a demigod but he's still mortal" is a line that's said to describe Perseus, and it's particularly apt becauseuntil evidence is provided to the contrarythat's also a good description for Worthington's onscreen persona. At this point he's half a star at best.
A note about the 3-D: The film wasn't shot in the new process that has moviegoers lining up left and right, adds little to the film and, at moments, actually darkens it to the point where it's hard to see what's going on.
Film promoter Rusty Nails returns Saturday, April 10, for Sci-Fi Spectacular 4 at the Music Box Theatre, 3733 N. Southport. Fans of the genre can get their fill 12 p.m.-2 a.m. with a line-up that includes the '50s fave Them ( about giant killer ants ) , Planet of the Vampires ( from Italian horror meister Mario Bava ) , the John Carpenter cult fave Dark Star, the fun guilty pleasure Flash Gordon ( with its constantly repeated theme song by Queen ) , the cult-monster picture Q the Winged Serpent, the sexy sci-fi '80s thriller Lifeforce from Tobe Hooper, and the John Carpenter '80s B picture They Live. In the last one, aliens attempt to take over Earth through subliminal means until hunky wrestler-turned-actor Roddy Piper catches on and becomes determined to stop them. Dealer tables, vintage trailers, short films, prizes, surprises and more are promised. See www.musicboxtheatre.com .
Check out my archived reviews at www.windycitytimes.com or www.knightatthemovies.com . Readers can leave feedback at the latter Web site.
This article shared 3667 times since Wed Apr 7, 2010
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