Sunday, April 25, 2010

Clash of the Titans - *1/2

Nothing is as it should be in the new Clash of the Titans remake. It could have been campy and fun, but instead it has an inflated sense of self-importance, not a good quality for a film with lousy effects and no plot. The cast that has been assembled for the task of acting out this hokey trash is full of actors that are either too good for these roles, or just not fit to play them. A few, like Liam Neeson and Casino Royale villain Mads Mikkelsen manage to save some face, pulling off a few acceptable scenes, but others, like Nicolas Hoult, the chubby loser from About a Boy, is just way off, playing an army grunt who has absolutely no effect whatsoever because all I see is the gay kid in the glowing sweater and the too-white teeth from last year's A Single Man. Seriously, Narcissus could see his reflection in those teeth. It's distracting.

There are a few good things in the film; Olympus looks great, and I really dug Zeus' shiny armor and, well, I guess that's about it for the good stuff. These scenes with the gods aren't too bad, but there aren't enough of them, and Ralph Fiennes shows up in most of them as Hades, who creepily floats around, ruining what's left of them. But creepy is good, right? Umm, not really. It's not the kind of creepy that is a nuance of the performance, but the creepiness of bad make-up and poor shot-selection, like when you catch the pan-and-scan version of Mission Impossible III on TNT and there are shots where Phil Hoffman's face takes up literally the entire screen, so it just looks like an amorphous blob that can speak. Clash has a few shots with Fiennes that rival Amorphous Hoffman.

While Clash never really reaches the point where it is painful to watch, it just never wows you in any way. Like 300, the action is poorly directed, and it features a boring political sub-plot that takes place back home. The score is never epic enough to arouse any excitement whatsoever, and is pretty much a cross between generic adventure music and shit-metal. And like so many other action films that feature a giant creature, it incorporates the obligatory close-up of that creature roaring loudly into the camera. Why is this in every movie? It will never come anywhere near to being as incredible as it was in Jurassic Park, so it needs to be put-down, especially when it takes up roughly ten percent of the creature's screen-time in the film. That's right, the Kraken of "Release the Kraken!" trailer fame has about three minutes of screen-time in the actual film, most of it spent as a mess of flailing tentacles rising from the ocean. The sequence is over before it starts, and might go down as the least-impressive set-piece since the bandits' raid on the house in Home Alone 3. But I suppose an impressive ending would have upset the balance of mediocrity the film worked so hard to attain in the first 100 minutes, so maybe it works after all.

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