Saturday, May 08, 2010

Clash of the Balls

I always hate it when I get to watch a movie that has a well-written script, a logical, coherent story with characters that the audience can get emotionally invested in, excellent directing and Academy Award winning (because that apparently still means something) acting. Luckily for me then that Legendary and Warner Bros. brought the piece of shit they call "Clash of the Titans" to the big screen. In so-called 3D no less, so we could witness the mess in 3 inglorious dimensions. It is my intention to explain to you why this movie completely sucked big hairy goat balls. This is, of course, no difficult feat as the movie makers seem intent on showing just how terrible a movie they could make right from the very getgo with the terrible tag line "Titans Will Clash" which caused my friend Brian and I no end of amusement. It was so terrible and stupid it almost seemed like they were preemptively making fun of themselves before anyone else could. But I'll do it anyway.

The first thing I want to get off my chest is how stupid the title of the movie is with regards to the content of the movie itself. Consider this your PRETENTIOUS ASSHOLE WARNING. First of all for anyone with even the slightest background in ancient Greek mythology the word "Titan" refers to a race of gods, led by Cronos, who ruled the universe before Zeus and the Olympian gods totally kicked their asses all the way to Tartarus. So to me, after hearing a title like "Clash of the Titans" (and disregarding the 80's movie of the same name) it would call to mind a story of supernatural political upheaval where the old regime -the Titans- are overthrown by the young, oppressed, and often undigested (look up the hole story yourself you lazy bastard) proletariat -the Olympians- who are looking to set up a new dynasty and establish peace and presperity.

This would be pretty cool actually. There would be the generational thing with the younger, idealistic group overthrowing a corrupt monarchy, with some help even from the inside, so you have the "allegiance-to-your-leader-versus-doing-the-right-thing" theme. Then you have the whole emotionally poignant "father-versus-son" theme with Cronos the old king having to deal with Zeus and his band of young rebels. And then you have the whole "unlikely-hero-taking-the-lead-in-the-rebellion" conflict with Zeus and his freed brothers and sisters because Zeus is the youngest so why should he lead? You get a cool "hidden-from-your-father-at-birth-so-he-won't-kill-you-living-a-peaceful-life-but-having-to-fulfil-your-destiny" theme as Zeus eventually leaves hiding to confront his tyrannical father. You can even have a cool god in training montage as Zeus forges his own lightning bolts and does pushups on a pile of skulls or whatever. Unfortunately, this is not the movie we got.

Then there is the modern definition of titan: "somebody whose power, achievement, intellect, or physical size is extraordinarily impressive." So a "Clash of the Titans" would be some kind of ideological or physical confrontation between two or more of these "extaordinarily impressive" individuals. This would either be the aforementioned Pantheon of gods, or some mere mortals, presumably clashing with each other. Unfortunately, this is not the movie we got. Then there was the actual myth of Perseus. He and his mother were set adrift in a coffin by his father, king Acrisius, who feared the prophecy that Perseus would eventually kill him and take over his throne. Then the good king Polydectes eventually sends Perseus on a crazy quest to kill the crazy snake head lady Medusa so he could bang his mom when he was gone. Along the way he rescues and marries the princess Andromenda and turns a shit-ton of people to stone with the severed Gorgon's head before fulfilling the prophecy his birth-father had so feared. This cautionary tale of bravery and self-determination versus destiny, again, was not the movie we got.

There were no "titans" of any type in this movie. "Clash of the Titans" was a jumbled, convoluted mess, with forgetable characters and virtually no coherence to speak of. And to top it all off the special effects weren't even that good. The 3-D especially sucked balls. I mean I had heard that "Avatar" was really the only movie EVER to have done 3-D properly, so being the open-minded critical thinker that I am I decided to give "Clash" a try in the mythical Third Dimension! And I am inclined to agree that "Avatar" is still the only movie to rock 3-D, even with all the new tech. Apparently they retrofitted this movie with 3-D, the difference being that with "Avatar" the 3-D process began during filming with multiple cameras and movies like "Clash" the process began in the editing room where they digitally separated elements in the movie and in general made it look like crap. Half the time you could barely tell there was 3-D and when you could tell it looked like things such as the actors heads were stretched and deformed. All in all the 3-D did not help this movie in any way shape or form.

The (a-hem) plot follows our (a-hem) hero Perseus. He and his mother are set adrift at sea in what is essentially a coffin after his father founds out she fooled around with the god Zeus. A simple fisherman finds the coffin and opens it to find a young Perseus clinging to his dead mother. Then all of the sudden without so much as a montage we find a grown up Perseus out fishing with the family trying to make a living. Then, for no explicable reason, a bunch of soldiers tear down the giant of a god (I believe it's Zeus) on a cliff high above them. I suppose this was meant to be some sort of bold declaration of war by humanity on the gods, some assertion of self-determination and a denial of these far away beings who arbitrarily imposed their will on the downtrodden mortals. The motive is never entirely made clear and what could have been the beginning of a recurring theme is merely another loose end that never gets tied up.

Anywho, the destruction of this statue aparently really pisses off Hades (god of the underworld) who appears and starts fucking shit up and killing the soldiers. Perseus's family are killed in the ensuing conflict which is loosely used as the motivation for Perseus to later go questing with the usual band of merry -and slightly homoerotic- male companions. For some reason the soldiers bring the grief-stricken Perseus to see the local royals, King Kepheus and Queen Cassiopeia. The good queen then for some reason compares boldly declares that she and her daughter -Andromeda- are more beautiful than the gods. This again, for some reason, really seems to piss off Hades who once again shows up to fuck shit up. He kills the queen and says that they must sacrifice Andromeda to the Kraken to appease the gods or the city of Argos will be destroyed.

Then for no reason Perseus -now revealed to be the son of Zeus- decides to go on a quest to save the young princess. Along the way they encounter the hideously deformed Calibos -formily king Acrisius- terribly CG giant scorpions, crazy old witches, mighty winged horses, strange, blue-faced racial stereotypes, Charon, and finally Medusa. Perseus, with absolutely no training, somehow manages to be the only one to servive all these perils and make it back to Argos to kill the Kraken, rescue the princess and send Hades packing.

The biggest problem with the movie -aside from a lack of consistency- is total lack of motivation. There was no reasonable explanation as to why any of the characters (god or mortal) did what they did. Perseus is given no really significant, personal motive to hate the gods and reject all their help, aside from being a shitty fisherman and then blaming the gods. He is then given no clear motivation for finally accepting their help after he so firmly established that he wanted to set himself apart from them. Hades has no reason to hate the mortals, or to be so antagonistic with his brother Zeus. Zeus, in turn, is given no real motivation later for turning on his fellow gods and aiding Perseus directly.

Something else that really annoyed me is this determination that modern filmmakers have to villify Hades, the god of the underworld. For some unknown reason he is equated with the Judeo-Christian persona of Satan even though the analogy is completely inacurate. If any of the ancient Greek gods would be considered to be "villainous" a better candidate would be Ares, the god of war, for far more obvious reasons. Perhaps the reason for the anachronistic depiction of Hades is his connection to the "underworld" which is just another word for "afterlife" and so was the guardian of all people's souls not just the evil or unjust. In that way he was like Satan and Jesus all wrapped up into one: Jesatan. Hmmmmmm... I wonder who would win in a fight, Perseus or Jesatan? (Also why the fuck was the Kraken released by Hades lord of the UNDERWORLD? Shouldn't he have been released by Poseidon lord of the SEA? No, I guess that would actually make sense...)

Nitpicking aside this was just a terribly shitty movie. The acting was wooden and forced except for an excellent performance by Mads Mikkelsen (you know, the bad dude who cried blood in Casino Royale) and even Liam Neeson's brilliant work was chopped to shit in the editing room. Sam Worthington, who is being groomed as one of Hollywood's next big action stars, still has yet to prove himself in my mind. His work is lacklustre so far. He has the potential and in the hands of a great director he might do great stuff, but not yet Sammy boy, not yet. Also the ending where Perseus accepts the help of the gods instead of rejecting them and gets rewarded in the process is baffling. If this movie is taken to be an anology of the struggle between Parent and Child then are the filmmakers suggesing that daddy knows best? Or if it meant to represent the struggle between The Common Man and Big Brother it raises the same types of quetions. Or if it was to be taken as the fight between Reason and Faith what message are they trying to get across? The sad thing is that in this short paragraph I have probably put more thought into the movie than the filmmakers put into it through all the weeks and months of shitty filmmaking.

All right I'm done writing about this pile of crap. Thinking about it again just makes me angry and hungry. For having to sit through one of the worst movies not only of the year but of the decade and possibly of all time I give Clash of the Titans a 3/10 = One Soggy, Decomposing Gorgon's Head.


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