Clash of the Titans

Director: Louis Leterrier
Starring: Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson and a bunch of people who should know better
Review: 1 star (of five)

The new Clash of the Titans is boring and sad. It’s ugly, it’s long, and the script is a mess. It takes a story about a hero who’s half-god and fights monsters with mystic artifacts for the good of society, and gives us a mope with a Marine Corps buzz cut (all the rage in ancient goddamned Greece) whose motivation is revenge, and who rejects the magic sword, the magic flying pony, and anything that would make him more than just another average grunt.

So why make this movie at all? You wanna do a soldier-buddy-revenge movie with a very American attitude, we’ve got two hot wars going right now, a million foreign terrorists training to kill us, and a bunch of homegrown religious wackos running around the midwest somewhere. Make your gritty revenge picture out of those. If the perpetrators of this offense are drafted for Spider-Man 4, expect to see Peter Parker refuse to stick to walls in his spandex undies, and just walk around with a bunch of street cops, ready to slug Doc Ock with a spare billy club. Pass the popcorn.

It took three credited writers to ruin the 29-year-old original screenplay (and the 3,000-year-old myths), two of whom are the team that vomited Aeon Flux and The Tuxedo into your local Blockbuster. While the original story was a little convoluted in its setup, this thing is just a messy nightmare. If this movie sucked less, I would take the time to puzzle out the message behind its weird reshaping of ancient Greece. The gods are feckless dopes, except Hades who, because the filmmakers have confused him with the Devil, is crazy-evil. The hero’s “I don’t want to be exceptional” refrain is beaten home a dozen times, and though he does end up riding the flying horse and all that, it’s not because he embraces his destiny—the film just needs an action climax. So, the addition of the cheap, unheroic revenge motive, plus the hero’s soldier styling and “I just wanna be average” motto suggests that the brain trust behind this film doesn’t think the average action-movie fan will accept nobility and a supernaturally enhanced hero. Maybe they imagine they’re catering to a bunch of mouthbreathers who can only relate to a character who aspires to share their trailer park. At least it sends a clearly anti-religious message—one star for that.