2012. 99 minutes. Rated PG-13
“You’re sweating like a human. Next it will be tears.”
I remember the original Clash of the Titans from 1981. The stop-motion effects are nothing to look at now, but the Greek mythology story of Perseus was still compelling. And who can forget the infamous phrase of “Release the Kraken!” intoned by Laurence Olivier. The movie was redone in 2010 to fairly mediocre reviews and I must admit, I never saw it.
Yet somehow, there was a sequel made and there I was, taking it in.
This new story has nothing to do with any Greek myths I ever read. The hero Perseus (Sam Worthington, who resembles a somewhat broader and hunkier Pierce Brosnan) is retired and living with his son Helius in a quiet fishing village. Then Perseus’ father, Zeus (Liam Neeson), shows up to say that a Big Bad is stirring and monsters will be arising and the gods are going to need all the help they can get. Zeus explains that no one is praying to the gods anymore, and the gods are dying off because of it (What? Really? That can happen?). Perseus isn’t buying it and says no, but of course, he dusts off his sword pretty damn quickly when a fire breathing two-headed flying beast starts razing the village.
Turns out that Hades (Ralph Fiennes, looking old these days) and Ares (Edgar Ramirez) have joined forces to try and set free big bad Chaos daddy, Kronos, from Tartarus in a deal that guarantees their immortality. The pair kidnap Zeus (they both have issues with him; it is quite the dysfunctional immortal family) and start draining his powers to set Kronos free. Enter Perseus on a rescue mission along with Andromeda (Rosamund Pike as a kick butt warrior queen), and a hero son of Posiedon named Agenor (Toby Kebbell), who provides some welcome and predictable comic relief, as well as a bunch of red shirts.
Now this is an action-adventure flick, so you know there will be obstacles to overcome and a big fight at the end. Maybe there will even be some emotional connections made, some enemies turning to friends, some revenge being taken. You know how it goes, don’t you? I can’t say that there were many unpredictable moments or plot twists. A good example would be the trio entering a maze. Now, whenever there is a maze in a Greek myth and some creature attacks you, what could that monster possibly be? Nah, I won’t tell you. I’ll let you be surprised if you can be.
In general, the movie is filmed all in dark hues and ominous overtones. It is chock full of testosterone. Outside of Andromeda, there are no women with more than a line, and Andromeda is about as girly as a backhoe. Even the goddesses are absent. I was also extremely amused that ancient Greece is filled with people with English, Irish and Australian accents; there was no attempt to have the actors speak a similar “language.” Not a big deal, really, but definitely noticeable.
Is it one of those movies you can take your kids to see? Definitely. No sex and very limited gore. If a god dies, he turns into sand, so blood is kept to a minimum.
What you don’t know about this film is that if you see it, it is worth seeing in 3D. Several scenes, including one where you are diving through underground tunnels, are excellent and dizzyingly cool. In another scene, Perseus is flying on Pegasus and it seems as though he comes out of the audience and onto the screen. It was so realistic that I almost waved my hand at the giant bug flying by my head until I realized it was part of the movie.
While much of this sounds negative, I have to say that despite its faults and predictability, it was still an enjoyable movie. The action is nonstop, the storyline doesn’t have any gaps, and you will still chuckle in the right spots. And if you don’t expect much, you’ll be able to pay more attention to the details. For instance, how hunky Sam Worthington is, even covered with grit and blood. So sit back and enjoy the ride for the gods are dead and the war’s begun.