Science fiction and fantasy                                            

Clash of the Titans

directed by Louis Leterrier

Clash of the Titans poster  
For parents everywhere it's an all-too-familiar story: you give them life, raise them from nothing, and your offspring repay your generosity by not calling, not writing, breaking your stuff and leaving you with a big pile of things to clean up. They need to be taught respect. Zeus (Liam Neeson) has it worse than most, since he has more offspring than anyone else. As well as scores of gods and demigods, he counts the whole of mankind as his children. And his kids are wayward.

The movie starts by reminding us how Zeus overthrew his own parents, the Titans, in order to take his place as king of the gods. So he knows all about the dangers of rebellious heirs. In Clash of the Titans the prayers of mortals are what give the gods their powers, so when people begin to abandon the gods it's time for a reckoning.

Enter Perseus (Sam Worthington), an orphan found floating on the waves in a rich casket by the fisherman Spyros (Pete Postlethwaite). Spyros takes him in and raises him, teaching him an honest trade and adopting him into his family. It's a difficult life, but one with compensations. But everything changes when they witness soldiers desecrating a statue of Zeus, and Hades (Ralph Fiennes) turns up to mete out punishment.

Perseus ends up in the city of Argos, where the king and queen take time out from bragging about their defiance of the gods to boast about the loveliness of their daughter Andromeda (Alexa Davalos). Then Hades gatecrashes the party to tell them what fools they are, and demands that they sacrifice Andromeda to his pet Kraken, or else face the annihilation of the city.

The people of Argos have a few days to decide, so Perseus sets off with a crack team of heroic types to find a way to defeat the Kraken and keep Hades at bay. Lots of monster-mauling, waving of shiny swords, and supernatural mayhem ensues.

The movie looks expensive for the most part, with lots of special effects and huge, legendary creatures. The gods themselves are full of surprises, from unnaturally shiny armour to the ability to dissolve into a cloud of smoke, and more. But the settings are even better. It's not just Olympus, the rest ancient world looks gorgeous as well. If the creators set out to awe their audience they have succeeded, at least as far as visuals are concerned.

With his intense desire to live as a mortal and to reject his godly side, Perseus is likeable. His humility is one of the things that makes him heroic, although sometimes it's a touch extreme. He's very serious. Sam Worthington is well cast however, since he looks a little more boy-next-door than macho chiselled action hero, so it's easier to relate to him as one of the people rather than some unapproachable demigod.

Clash of the Titans will please viewers who are looking for the kind of full-on adventure that gets the pulse racing. The dialogue is believable and the story isn't entirely shallow, although there are some plot threads that could have been explored in much more depth. The growing conflict over the Princess of Argos, and the character in the loincloth who agitates in favour of worshipping Hades are parts of the story that get told in brief flashes. That's fine if you have the attention span of a caffeinated gnat, but it's not that satisfying for anyone else. It's fortunate that this movie has snappy action scenes and all kinds of eye candy, since these are its most appealing features.

3rd April 2010

Film Details

Year: 2010

Categories: Films


Classification: 12

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3 star rating

Review © Ros Jackson