Clash of the Eyeliner

Movie Title: Clash of the Titans (2010)
Spoilers: none

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Greek mythology has again become popular in movies while Christianity seems to be falling out ever so slightly. I can only imagine that when your gods are not the people's gods, you can play them as more villainous, warmongering, and openly hateful than the god of the Bible really is and get away with it. But make nothing of that.

All begins with the telling of the old myth, with Perseus and his mother Danae being cast into the sea at the bidding of a jealous King Acrisius. All the gods, including Zeus, are shameless adulterers. Even Jesus was conceived when God got busy with Mary as a betrothed (engaged) woman (Luke 1:26-35). No matter. The sacred three have worship flung at them. Can't criticize the pagan gods in that regard. Should be no big deal to the viewer, religious or non.

But worship is a big deal to the gods. “I created them, and they reward my love with defiance?” These are the words of an angry Zeus, wroth but weakening from a lack of prayerful adoration. The non-praying humanists became too many. Without praise, what are gods but celestial MS cases? Prayers fuel immortality, and so it is stated.

Perseus and his mother are found at sea by a fisherman who raises the boy and tells him of his providential destiny to one day take a stand. This materializes, as years later, the people of Argos destroy a sacred statue of Zeus while the gods stand around and are displeased (as if they didn't know that would happen). Humanity must be punished and Argos – that insolent city – must be blotted off the map. Hades (Ralph Fiennes) offers to unleash his deadly elemental being called Kraken to do the job.

The gods are angered by unbelief, and so it's a good thing they're dead because they'd never make it today. If not from lack of prayers, they'd be weak from having to spend all of their power doing what they do best—extracting revenge on the godless. But perhaps we, the viewers, should be seeking vengeance for having to sit through this muddle of a movie.

This remake of Clash of the Titans, starring Sam Worthington as Perseus and Liam Neeson as Zeus, is a clumsy handling of a classic, a shipwreck of rotten writing and inexcusably bad directing. Beginning with Hades' emergence against Argos at sea, the events can be summed up as follows...

Perseus is taken to see royalty after he is the only survivor of an attack at sea that left his earthly parents dead. He looks up and the audience sees an obvious mural of the Parthenon. Perseus has been instantly thrown into the plot. Andromeda (Alexa Davalos) knows who Perseus is and that he is a demi-god. She has been protecting him his entire life. Then others suddenly know, including all the gods who meet about the matter, though the gods themselves clearly had no idea of his existence before this day.

Meanwhile, the king throws Perseus in jail for holding. Andromeda gets him out without any trouble and he's off to get revenge on the gods who created him and were responsible for his parents' death. Soldiers are ready to fight and die at his side. It's a good thing because they are all expendable like the Star Trek red-shirts.

The polytheistic evangelists sound just as annoying as the monotheistic Christian ones: “Man cannot rule man. If we defy the gods, we will be punished.” Blah, blah, blah...shut the f*ck up! Then Zeus looks at a model figure of his newly discovered offspring, Perseus, and starts to rethink things: “Maybe I was a deadbeat SOB dad after all?” At Zeus' feet are clouds. He is always in armor (even when not fighting) and bathed in high intensity light (but there’s no sun). And of course, he has a beard. What god doesn't? 

A sword from the gods comes as a gift to Perseus, but he only wants to stick it up the rear of the one who gave it. The Pegasus shows up, but is a coward and flies away. Perseus is still a rockin' god-man—and that despite his sacrilegious quest. He is still destined to do glorious works. Zeus is now on his side, but Perseus cannot be bribed with a place on Mt. Olympus, even though he has been offered one by his heavenly, hooked-up daddy (and even though up until a few days ago, Perseus had no fighting experience whatsoever and did nothing his whole life except net fish). Don't just stop his heart from beating or anything, Zeus. Offer him a place among the highest gods!

Then Hades gives a man-beast with a hideous face power to take down Perseus. This creature's blood creates big scorpions in the sand. Then come much bigger scorpions, but you can't tell how many, and they won't enter the desert because it's not their territory. Perseus gets a pain in his arm and says: “Ahhhhhhhhh.” More polytheistic evangelists with lots of eyeliner can be heard spouting their crap.

A wide-eyed, polytheist preacher with too much makeup on sets himself on fire screaming for the people to appease the angry gods who have given them a limited amount of time to make a human sacrifice to Zeus. The audience is so glad the preacher is dead. An ugly, blue-eyed entity with blue fire burns Perseus' elbow to help him heal faster after the battle with the giant scorpions. If he didn't have throw-away soldiers and large remains of fallen temples as help, the scorpions would have proved too much. Forget the damn Kraken.

That really big, giant, super-sized scorpion returns, but this one's a taxi. Let's ride! Women with no eyes on their heads but in their palms meet with Perseus and speak after attacking and groping him and those with him. They are witches who tell the future. Time to kill Medusa (who is a rape victim in this remake) to use her severed head against the Kraken. The Blue-eyed thing lets out a “Rahhhhhhhhhhhhhh!” for the camera. Real tough.

Medusa is dead. More threats of riots as a crazy religious nut (also with too much eyeliner on) demands a sacrifice. The Kraken comes: “Rahhhhhhhhhhhhhh!” Zeus and Hades face each other and it's not pretty. “Damn you, backstabbing Hades!” But Zeus knew he had it coming after how he was a dick to Hades way long ago. The Kraken is dead.

That is Clash of the Titans in this tortured remake, filled with artificial stare-downs and screams, grunts and growls, with its epileptic fight scenes that are largely inappreciable, and where more than half the cast has WAY too much eyeliner on. King Argos wears too much eyeliner, enough to add a cool 437 grams to his total body weight, but he's not alone. It must have been a trend, a cultural fad I wasn't aware of.

The story turns tail on itself and runs with Zeus first opposing mortals and calling for their punishment, and then abandoning that reasoning and choosing to help his son fight against the gods without even knowing the outcome of Hades and his plotting against him.

And get this: A blue-eyed, demonic-looking fighter entity cannot be turned to stone by Medusa's gaze because he's not human, but a giant sea creature that can blot entire civilizations out of memory when unleashed CAN be turned to stone? Consistency has never been a quality of the gods. I'll leave it at that.

(JH)

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Grade: D+ (1 ½ stars)
Rated: PG-13 (fantasy action violence, some frightening images and brief sensuality)
Director: Louis Leterrier
Summary: Perseus, the son of Danae, takes a stand against Hades and the gods who took the life of his earthly parents.
Starring: Sam Worthington "Perseus," Liam Neeson "Zeus," Ralph Fiennes "Hades," Jason Flemyng "Calibos / Acrisius," Gemma Arterton "Io," Alexa Davalos "Andromeda," Tine Stapelfeldt "Danae," Mads Mikkelsen "Draco," Luke Evans "Apollo," Izabella Miko "Athena," Liam Cunningham "Solon"
Genre: Fantasy / Action / Thriller
Trailer

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