Remade from the much loved 1981 classic, this year’s Clash of the Titans is perhaps best known for it’s less than satisfying, retroactive, 3D conversion; that left many premium paying cinema-goers disappointed with the effect; if the not the movie itself, but despite the movie’s limp 3D effect, it still performed well at the Box Office (and well enough to earn a sequel that has already been greenlit and given a confirmed start date), and is now being released on Blu-ray and DVD, in it’s, originally planned, 2D glory.
The film itself focusses on a young Demi-God (half God, half mortal) named Perseus (Sam Worthington, Avatar) who manages to survive an assassination attempt whilst still a newborn baby, and ends up being adopted by a fisherman and his family; remaining unaware of his fantastical roots, and proceeding to simply live as a humble fisherman.
His plans of peaceful living however are interrupted, when he and his family sail to Argos, and find that the King and his soldiers have begun to wage a war on the Gods themselves, by refusing to pray to them, and even tearing down a giant statue of Zeus (the ruler of the heavens, and creator of man); which, needless to say, angers to Gods, and sees the soldiers, and Perseus’ family, all murdered by Hades (Zeus’ brother, and ruler of the underworld).
Perseus then finds himself in Argos when the Gods finally decide to fight back, and is again the only survivor of Hades’ wrath, which amazes every onlooker, and shocks even Hades’ himself; who informs Perseus, and everyone else listening, of his lineage; and gives the people of Argos an ultimatum whereby they must choose to either sacrifice their princess (as references to the young Andromeda; played by Defiance’s Alexa Davalos; being more beautiful than Aphrodite; the Goddess of love, sex, and beauty; have offended the Gods almost as much as their outright defiance of Zeus) within ten days, or face death, and the destruction of their city, at the hands of the Kraken; a beast more powerful than any of the Gods.
Being a hot-headed bastard son of a deity, Perseus naturally decides that sacrificing the princess is the wrong thing to do, and agrees to head out with a group of hardened greek soldiers to consult a couple of wise witches, who he hopes will provide him with a method of defeating the fearsome Kraken.
He is also joined by the ageless Io (Gemma Arterton, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time); a woman who has watched over him for many years, informs him of his unusual conception (where Zeus actually tricked his mother into sleeping with him as a vindictive means of annoying her husband), and decides to aid Perseus in his quest to defeat the Kraken, and avenge the death of his adoptive parents; in a quest that will force him to overcome many test of adversity, wit, and strength, and compel him to quickly learn the way of the sword.
Most of the film is a series of elaborate battles that chronicle the journey Perseus has to take in order to complete his quest; including battling gigantic scorpions, coming face to face with a flying horse (Pegasus), meeting the blind witches that share the use of a single eye, entering the lair of Medusa (a woman who was punished by the Gods, and morphed into a monster that would turn any man who looks at her directly into stone), and being hunted by his mother’s husband; battles that are strung together with only a slither of a plot, and the odd bit of forced banter or walking, but are good enough to keep the film interesting.
The battles look fantastic, as the breathtaking effects, excellent choreography, and shooting style of director Louis Leterrier (The Incredible Hulk), all combine to create some truly stunning action and set-pieces, that really carry the film, and are the only thing that anyone who watches it really wanted to see.
Sam Worthington is a solid action star; easily pulling off the role of Perseus (despite there not being too much acting involved) and excelling in the physical sequences where his character would need to be tough; and Liam Neeson (The A-Team) was a great choice for Zeus; although the material let him down somewhat, and as such although he adequately fulfilled the role, it was not his best work (watch Schindler’s List, or even Batman Begins, Taken, or Chloe, for a better idea of Neeson’s talents); with Gemma Arterton’s Io nicely rounding out the male dominated cast.
The supporting cast are all satisfactory; and include performances from Mads Mikkelsen (Casino Royale), Polly Walker (Rome), Jason Flemyng (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels), and an intriguing showing from Ralph Fiennes (Red Dragon) as Hades; although the acting really was never really going to be put on trial by the majority of viewers, who simply tune in for the action.
It’s a good job then that the action is as good as it is, because aside from the scenes where Perseus and co. are dodging an increasingly difficult form of death, the movie can be pretty dull; as there’s barely a plot to speak of, badly written dialogue, and last minute script changes that removed some of the more interesting Gods from the final picture; and even though the entire film is basically spent waiting to watch the epic battle between Perseus and the Kraken (which itself is nothing special, and had the entirety of its anticipation ruined by the film’s pre-release trailers), it still manages to maintain a degree of interest until its conclusion.
There’s no way that this version of Clash of the Titans will ever be as fondly remembered as the original film (seemingly lacking the heart, passion, and scope that its predecessor had); although its Box Office performance does show that it was at least moderately enjoyed by a number of people, and it does significantly improve on the originals rather outdated and somewhat laughable effects; but for those film fans who like to watch a film every now and again that has great special effects, solid action, and stunning visuals, with little plot, dialogue, or substance behind it; a film where they can doze off for half an hour, or pop down the shops, come back and find they’ve missed nothing; 2010’s Clash of the Titans is perfect.
The 1080p transfer award to the Clash of the Titans Blu-ray disc is a very solid one, and one that sports some impressive colours; that really pop against the many dark backgrounds and interiors, and look suitably impressive during daylight scenes; solid contrast, blacks that are both rich and deep; providing good shadows and delineation; and a good level of detail, along with skintones that appear naturally warm and mediterranean.
There has clearly been some DNR (digital noise reduction) applied to the transfer, and as a result the detail isn’t as high as it could have been otherwise; although this is stylistic choice, as it appeared exactly the same at the cinema, and as such is not a problem with the transfer itself; and while there is some edge enhancement and ringing visible, the transfer is relatively free from print errors, with no visible scratches or blemishes, no evidence or crush, artifacting, or banding, and as such this is a suitably impressive transfer that more than adequately showcases the film’s stunning visuals, and should easily please its fan.
And just as impressive is the 5.1 DTS-HD MA soundtrack that transports the movie’s soundtrack onto Blu-ray, as it has excellent clarity, superb placement and directional effects, and some weight and aggressive bass that lends real presence to a number of nasty creatures, and several effects (such as crumbling statues, harsh waves, and the wings of the Pegasus), and dialogue the is consistently crisp and clear throughout.
The rear channels also get a fair workout, because despite only emitting some rather quiet and subdued ambient effects while the action is absent, as soon as anything kicks off they leap into action and provide a platform for all sorts of battles noises (swiping swords, flying rubble and sand, cackling echoes and violent winds) that become extremely immersive and enveloping, especially when coupled with the film’s score; which effectively compliments the action, and builds suspense throughout; and mean that this is an audio tracks that gives very little cause for complaint, and is one that easily stands its own in the modern action movie market.
Clash also arrives on Blu-ray with a healthy selection of special features, which include an extensive Picture-in-Picture mode; containing behind the scenes footage, interviews, and breakdowns of the film’s visual effects and stunt-work, and makes for an interesting an well crafted accompaniment (helped by the input from Louis Leterrier and the principal cast), despite the large gaps of silence; a featurette discussing Sam Worthington’s performance as an action star; that sees him prepare for and perform many of the film’s stunts, whilst explaining why he does so much of his own stunt-work, and examining how some of the shots come together, in a short yet overall interesting feature; an the optino to connect to BD-Live.
Rounding off the mix is a collection of deleted scenes (which are quite lengthy when grouped together, and all rightfully cut from the finished picture; as they offer little in terms of depth or progression), and short featurettes; that are grouped together as a series of ‘Foucs Points’ and touch on everything from Zeus, and Sam becoming Perseus, to the world of Hades, the Scorpioch (giant scorpion), filming in Tenerife, realizing Medusa, and shooting in Wales (a place that the cast appear less than fond of, and Louis refers to as literal “hell”); and an extremely different alternate ending, that is much darker than the one finally chosen, and well worth a watch for any fan.
A successful grouping of bonus materials that all carry weight, and provide plenty of background information, and details about production, and filming, in general; it may have served Clash of the Titans well to provide a more thorough examination of the 1981 original, and the differences between the two movies, as well as having a traditional commentary track, but overall this is a decent selection of extras that should easily satisfy its fan base.
The Bottom Line:
In the end, the Clash of the Titans remake is exactly what everyone should have expected; an all out action fest that’s loaded with high-octane battles, brutal action, and stunning effects, but severely lacking in the plot, passion, and soul departments, that made the original such a beloved classic.
As far as the Blu-ray release goes, it also lives up to expectations; with a suitably strong and stable transfer in terms of both picture and audio quality, and contains a range of special features that are extensive, well crafted, and easy to watch; and should have no difficulty in pleasing its many fans.
The new Clash of the Titans can’t really be considered a bad film, as it delivers exactly what it promised; a no holds barred, special effects laden, action flick that drops a worthy action hero (Sam Worthington) into the world of Greek mythology, and sees him battle a myriad of computer generated nasties; it’s just a shame that there isn’t a little more heart behind it, and enough flesh to the story that would mean viewers wouldn’t want to take a nap whilst watching.
This version of the tale won’t be as fondly remembered as the original in years to come, and it’s certainly in no danger of making any viewer think, but it does deliver plenty of decent action, and is a great film to either have on in the background, or use as a piece of purely enjoyable popcorn-entertainment (which is all it ever really aspired to be) that’s easily re-watchable. Buy the original to watch a true classic, then watch the remake to see how some of the effects should look, enjoy some well shot action, and get caught up before the release of the sequel.