Saturday, August 7, 2010

Clash of the CGI

For those intent on seeing this movie, you should know that there are spoilers in here. Take the time to watch the movie, then come back and see if you agree with me.

I had some time to kill, as Becky was working the overnight shift at her job, so I engaged in the remake of "Clash if the Titans." I barely remember the original, but I do recall liking it. I mean, it had mythology, giant monsters, heroes, and a story that wasn't beyond the understanding of the 13-year-old I was at the time.

Thankfully, Hollywood did away with all those pesky aspects of certain movies that occasionally get stuck in your head. You know...like a decent story, memorable characters, lines of dialog that resonate with the audience. Who needs these things when you have CGI? The most anyone connected with this movie can say is, "At least we didn't have stop-motion animation." Please! I would have taken the old, clunky special effects over the non-existent tale that this thing turned out to be.

I'll start with Perseus. Did you follow the link? Did you read all of it? Good. Now forget 95% of it, because the only thing resembling the mythology is that he killed Medusa. Under the list of new feats for this hero are "obtaining a khaki-colored tee shirt in Ancient Greece" and "maintaining a 21st Century GQ look during an 'epic' ten-day journey on a quest against pagan gods." It also seems as though there wasn't a dialect coach anywhere near the set, as Sam Worthington's Australian accent is more than noticeable amongst his numerous English cast-mates.

Then there's Zeus, (and I shouldn't have to put a link for him here). Liam Neeson was given very few lines, and those he was given made the king of the Greek gods more akin to a teenager who isn't getting the attention from the girl he likes. He's losing the love of mortals and, in perfect psycho-logic, determines that he can probably regain their love by terrorizing them. And how does he do this?

He uses Voldemort! I mean, he agrees to let Hades unleash his pride and joy, the Kraken. Hades is played by Ralph Fiennes, the same man who plays Voldemort in the Harry Potter movies...and he plays Hades almost exactly the way he plays Voldemort. That high pitched whisper of his doesn't resonate as the lord of the dead at all; it just made me stare at the edges of the screen, waiting for Daniel Radcliffe to come running in and shout, "Expeliarmus!" (Or however it's spelled.)

On Perseus's side is Draco, played by Mads Mikkelsen, who is of Danish origin. His role is akin to that of Burgess Meredith in the original, in that he trains Perseus...for a minute and a half. From there, his job is to look grim and eventually die a perfectly meaningless death. Throughout this daunting task, his accent also slips through from time to time.

Perseus also has Io on his side, played by the lovely Gemma Alterton. As I understand it, Io is Perseus's great great great great great great great grandmother according to mythology. But let's not fret petty details like that and make her the love interest, for which there is no reason. That is to say that there is next to no interaction with the hero in a romantic fashion. Hers is the ugly job of exposition. Actors HATE just standing around and explaining things. They want to act. Alas, Gemma has little to work with on that ground in this film.

The final main character is Andromeda, who actually has VERY little to do with this movie. In the original, she was the love interest. In this one, she either dies or the city of Argos is toast. Alexa Davalos plays the role, and she looks lovely in a wispy white shift that, amazingly, isn't see-through when it's soaked through. And people...When you can't even get the cloth to act as it naturally does, there's something wrong with your film.

This movie assumes that everyone seated in the theater is five, and the producers are the adults. So as we ask obvious questions, we receive the parental standard of, "Because I said so." Why does Hades hate Zeus? "Because I said so." Why are mortals rebelling against the gods? "Because I said so." Why does Hades kill Perseus's adoptive family? "Because I said so." Why is Perseus going on this quest?...

Oh, that's a little more complicated. You see, they didn't have guns back then, so he has to travel for some time and fight monsters unrelated to the actual myth, but thoroughly related to the 1981 version of the film, so he can get Medusa's head, kill the Kraken, and...ummm...make Hades go home.

I know what you're thinking. No...Really?!? That's the story? And in the end, instead of getting real revenge, he just sends Hades home? Much to my regret, it is. What's even sadder is my recollection of the "God of War" video game series, which follows the story of Kratos, another bastard child of Zeus. There was more of a story to those games than there was in this movie...and the acting/dialogue was better. And in a most technical sense, Kratos's story takes place in only three weeks, starting at the very beginning with his attempt at suicide, and ending with the destruction of the Greek gods...and we're back at the cliff. "Clash of the Titans" gave Perseus ten days and live-action people to tell his story, and they managed to screw the whole thing up.

Three other things that irked me...One: a black Pegasus. I have never, EVER seen Pegasus depicted as anything but a pure white horse with wings. I swear, if I ever find out that the horse's color was racially motivated, I'm going to give up on humanity as being too emotional and utterly insane. Two: the sword that wanted to be a light saber. It's a sword hilt in the hands of anyone but Perseus, and only then does it light up and form an actual blade. Finally: GET YOUR OWN PLOT! The whole concept of Hades wanting to take over Olympus was done in Disney's Hercules. So these film-makers copied not one but TWO movies, and still managed to produce garbage.

With some films, you see the commercial and you say to yourself, or anyone in the room with you, "Meh. I'll wait for it to come out on DVD." With "Clash of the Titans," I recommend you reconsider and say, "Meh. I'll wait for it to play on broadcast television, and only if I don't have to watch paint dry that night."

1 comment:

WalkingTarget said...

Yeah, it was a pretty ridiculous movie (and the original film was a mainstay of my childhood). My stated expectations going into it were: 1. little-to-no connection to the original myths, 2. special effects for the sake of special effects, and 3. otherwise respectable actors slumming it a bit. The film delivered on all counts, but failed to have the charm of the original. I liked the character design for Medusa, but where the first film spent a lot of time setting the scene and building suspense, the new one substituted an action sequence. It was full of stuff like that. Also, I watched it in 2D, but it was painfully obvious where they'd inserted shots for the express purpose of showing off the last minute 3D elements they put in. Overall, I was disappointed, even considering my pretty low expectations.