The gods need to be put in their place.

Sam Worthington (Avatar) is Perseus, the bastard son of Zeus (Liam Neeson, Taken). Half-man, half-god, Perseus has decided to firmly throw his weight behind the mortal side, especially after his earthly family suffers the business end of a Hades fireball. His opportunity arrives when the city of Argos is threatened by the looming devastation of the invulnerable Kraken. Perseus joins up with a merry band of soldiers to travel to talk to some hideously deformed witches and find out the secret to defeating the Kraken. And that secret is? You guessed it: special effects!

I am not one of those lovers of the old Clash of the Titans. Young as I was watching it, I knew even then it was corny, what with Harry Hamlin’s ridiculous hair and that excruciating robot owl (yeah I said it). The highlight for my adolescent self was Andromeda’s side boob, no doubt. Suffice it to say, it was never a film that held a special place in my heart, so a big-budgeted headache of a remake doesn’t poop on my childhood.

That’s what the 2010 version of Clash of the Titans is: a big-budgeted headache accomplished without the aid of uncomfortable 3D glasses and lackluster technology. It is a special-effects laden, visceral force that flirts with exactly one interesting idea before largely abandoning it and embracing the brainlessness of a C-level summer blockbuster.

Even so, I didn’t hate the movie. I was engaged for the duration and got enough of a kick out of the action to get hyped when the over-produced mayhem and the bombastic score struck. Also, I kind of like Sam Worthington. His previous two blockbusters (Avatar and Terminator Salvation) saddled the guy with flimsy characters spouting bad dialogue, but he’s able to be a bit more charismatic here and it helps. Worthington’s definitely got the physical presence for an action star.

That interesting idea by the way? It was Perseus’s proclamation that he’d rather “die in the dirt with his men than live as a god” (I’m paraphrasing). Humanity as a flawed, grimy, but loyal species versus the immortal bitchiness of the gods, that was cool. Perseus spends much of the movie pissed about the gods, but that’s mainly because his family was screwed over by them. His connection with mortality is exhibited by his relationship with a crew of badasses who go with him to hunt Medusa. But once the Medusa fight passes, Perseus turns into an invulnerable superhero (it’s surprising that a fisherman who had never wielded a sword can so easily murder giant mutant scorpions and navigate a flying stallion around deadly tentacles) and, well, that’s it. The bonds he had formed with his brethren are forgotten, and with them goes the lone emotional attachment Clash of the Titans had going for it.

As for the sound and fury, you get a handful of major action set-pieces, all of which are done reasonably well, though none truly stand out as the finest of the year. The aforementioned mutant scorpions engage in a marginally exciting chase, though the obviousness of their CGI genesis detracts from the tension. Medusa is a decent creation, but the fight would have benefited from less cramped quarters. Perseus has a welcome, straight-forward hand-to-hand battle with Calibos, allowing Worthington to show off his screen-fighting acumen. And the big finale featuring the Kraken caps the film with some nice effects work and a genuinely exciting Pegasus chase through the streets of Argos; though the side story with some hippie cultists is distracting and contrived only to allow Andromeda a meaty ending to her flimsy story.

On Blu-ray, it all comes together nicely, pushed by a clean, but gritty 2.40:1 1080p/VC-1 encoded transfer. The visual fidelity lacks the slickness of most contemporary high-def releases, but that’s a directorial choice; a hyper-stylized look would not be great for the effects work. Sound doesn’t skimp, with a hard-pounding DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track pushing out the aggressive score. Your surrounds will get a work-out during the Kraken sequence. Extras: a Maximum Movie mode, which provides interviews and behind-the-scenes footage while the film plays; deleted scenes; a seven minute featurette on Sam Worthington; an alternate ending, which is dramatically different from the theatrical cut’s finale, and dramatically better; and the now requisite digital and DVD copies.

Clash of the Titans is low-grade, popcorn fare, but if you’re in the right mood, there’s some fun to be had. The Blu-ray could have brought a more impressive visual treatment, though a powerful aural mix and some interesting, exclusive extras help compensate.

THE VERDICT
Zeus is largely apathetic.

 

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